Huskies move on to semis

Special to the Mirror

MCCONNELLSBURG — Despite a spirited effort from Covenant Christian Academy, Bishop Carroll was able to break away with lengthy service runs in all three sets. The Lady Huskies came up with pivotal spurts right when they needed to gain a comfortable lead.

An effective equation consisting of pin-point serving, a well-distributed offense and nine team blocks on defense led Bishop Carroll to a 25-16, 25-15, 25-12 sweep over Covenant Christian Academy in the PIAA Class 1A quarterfinals at McConnellsburg High School Saturday.

“It’s a dream. We just want to keep pushing and make it to Saturday (state finals on Nov. 18,” said Bishop Carroll junior middle hitter Maddie Murphy, who produced a match-high 17 service points. “It’s awesome to come this far.”

Bishop Carroll advances to play District 11 champ Marian Catholic, who is ranked No. 1 by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association, on Tuesday at a site and time to be announced today. The Lady Huskies secured its second state semifinal appearance in school history, joining the 2013 squad’s company.

“It’s amazing. This is the farthest our school has ever gone. It just shows how much we worked over the past so many years together,” said Bishop Carroll junior setter Kayla Repko, who provided 25 assists. “We want to try and get to Saturday so bad and play really good.”

Bishop Carroll was able to answer Covenant Christian Academy’s runs with separating outbursts to extend its lead throughout the afternoon. The District 3 champs finished with a 21-2 record after advancing to the PIAA playoffs for the first time in any sport.

“We didn’t pass real well today, it made us a little predictable in our offense. They’re a deeper team than we are,” Covenant Christian Academy coach Mark Spoonhour said. “We definitely had some spots they could exploit and I think they did that.”

The Lady Huskies went on a 5-0 run with Kate Yahner serving to gain an early advantage. CCA later cut the deficit down to 16-15 by playing feisty defense and extending vollies. Kills from Anna Haigh, Mara Yahner and Caroline Ratchford keyed a 7-0 run to close the set for Bishop Carroll, who prevailed 25-16. Haigh served up the final six points.

“I think just keeping the ball in play and being smart,” was Bishop Carroll coach Katie Wyland’s assessment of how the Huskies were able to break away. “Serving helped us out a lot. We came out strong blocking wise. We knew they had good hitters so we wanted to keep them under control.”

Three early ties ensued to begin the second set. Four straight points with Murphy on the service line gave Bishop Carroll a slight lead. CCA battled back with a 5-2 run to pull within 9-8. Two aces and four straight service points from Repko extended the lead to 16-9. With Kate Yahner serving, Murphy came up with a kill and block to spark a 5-0 spurt as the Huskies rolled to a 25-15 victory.

“Our defense has picked up a lot and our will – we don’t want to have the ball drop, we don’t want to give up,” Repko described the team’s biggest improvements made since dropping a five-set match to Northern Cambria in the District 6 final.

Bishop Carroll turned an early deficit in the third set into another long service run. Murphy picked up eight straight service points while Haigh and Mara Yahner provided two kills each. A 9-0 run turned a 5-all tie into a 14-5 Bishop Carroll lead. A Haigh block started the Huskies’ celebration as they won by a 25-12 score.

Bishop Carroll has thrived in the PIAA playoffs by picking up two victories in straight sets.

“I just think we don’t want our season to end. We know if we lose that we’re going to go home,” Murphy said. “We’re such a tight group of girls. I think we just want to keep playing together and we don’t want this season to be over.”

Haigh led Bishop Carroll with nine kills while adding seven service points and four blocks. Ratchford and Kate Yahner both had five kills. Kate Yahner led the defense with 23 digs, while helping the offense with 12 service points. Murphy added seven kills.

SERVICE POINTS

BISHOP CARROLL: Murphy 17, K. Yahner 12, Repko 8, Haigh 7, M. Yahner 2, Clark 1.

COVENANT CHRISTIAN ACADEMY: Enders 8, Neff 2, Bailey 2.

Records: Bishop Carroll (23-4); Covenant Christian Academy (21-2).

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