Lady Huskies show veteran leadership matters

By John Hartsock

SIDMAN — Any team that reaches the PIAA playoffs is usually pretty good.

When everything else is equal, it’s the experience quotient that often proves to be the biggest factor in the outcome of a match.

The Bishop Carroll High School girls volleyball team has a wealth of experience on its side this year, and it showed in a PIAA Class 1A first-round match with Carmichaels Tuesday night.

Carroll, with a solid returning nucleus from last season’s PIAA semifinalist team, rolled to a straight-set 25-15, 25-16, 25-18 victory in the Forest Hills High School gymnasium.

The victory moved District 6 champion Carroll (now 21-2) into Saturday’s quarterfinal round against District 10 champion Cochranton at a site and time to be determined. Cochranton advanced by beating Ridgway in three straight sets Tuesday.

“I think we realized the importance of controlling our errors tonight, and that’s where the experience comes into play,” Carroll coach Katie Wyland said. “We’ve been here before. This is a team made up mostly of seniors, and our experience definitely helped us out.”

Carroll opened the match with a solid 25-15 victory in the first set. A spike by junior outside hitter-middle hitter Mara Yahner helped Carroll build a 16-6 lead midway through the match.

“I think we played a decent game, although our energy was down a little bit,” said Yahner, who had six kills in the overall match. “We know what we can do, and we tried to stay ahead the whole time.”

Carroll won the second set, 25-16, breaking out of a 10-10 tie with five straight points midway through the set.

Carroll prevailed in the third set, 25-18, as two unreturned serves by Carroll senior outside hitter Kate Yahner — Mara’s older sister — sparked a six-point Carroll run. Carroll clinched the victory on a spike by senior outside hitter-middle hitter Maddie Murphy, who had 13 service points, eight kills, and five blocks in the overall match.

Carroll senior middle hitter-outside hitter Anna Haigh had a big night, leading the Lady Huskies in service points (14) and digs (13), while also chipping in six kills.

Haigh said that Carroll’s team performance Tuesday was a little rough around the edges at times, but ultimately sufficient.

“We were a little sloppy at times, but we came through when we needed to and got the job done,” Haigh said.

Carmichaels, the District 7 runners-up, finished the season with a 17-2 record.

“I think we started off late getting into a rhythm,” Carmichaels coach Ashley Shoemaker said. “It’s the first time we’ve been here (state playoffs), and this kind of pushes the team to try to do bigger and better things.”

Shoemaker was impressed by Carroll.

“I think they have a strong all-around team,” Shoemaker said. “They had the mindset to keep pushing.”

And, as a result, Carroll will push on — to the state quarterfinals.

“It’s definitely a big deal to move on,” Wyland said.

Haigh agreed.

“It’s always good to get that win, and move on to the next round,” Haigh said. “We’re definitely pumped to play on Saturday.”

SERVICE POINTS: Haigh 14, Murphy 13.

KILLS: Murphy 8, M. Yahner 6, Haigh 6.

DIGS: Haigh 13, K. Yahner 12.

BLOCKS: Murphy 5.

ASSISTS: Repko 20

Records: Carmichaels (17-2); Bishop Carroll (21-2).

Officials: Ken Streilein, Tim Rough, Teri Cruse, Mindy Leonard.