CRESSON - The Penn Cambria Area High School girls volleyball team started and finished strong to remain unbeaten on the season by outlasting Altoona, 25-10, 25-21, 22-25, 21-25, 17-15 Monday night at the Penn Cambria Senior High School gymnasium.
Penn Cambria improved to 10-0 on the season by scoring the last two points in the decisive fifth game. With senior outside hitter Karissa Buzzella serving for Penn Cambria and the score tied, 15-15, Altoona was penalized for carrying the ball in its attempt to return a Buzzella serve.
That put Penn Cambria ahead, 16-15, and set the stage for junior middle hitter Tori Shingler's game-winning spike on Buzzella's next serve.
Shingler was a strong presence all night both offensively and defensively around the net, logging 11 service points and 18 kills.
"In the first two games, we stuck together and played well,'' Shingler said. "In the third game, we fell apart. Then we just kind of came back at the end.''
Penn Cambria coach Leah Montgomery agreed.
"In the first two games, I thought we did very well,'' she said. "Then we let up in the next two, but we came through in the end.''
Montgomery thought her team gave her more than she bargained for Monday as well.
"This is a very big win for us,'' she said. "Altoona's always a very strong team. I was just looking for us to stay with them tonight.''
Penn Cambria did more than that early in the matchup, and appeared to be on the verge of a possible three-game sweep.
With Shingler and senior outside hitter Taylor Freeman dominating play near the net, PC rolled to a 16-5 lead en route to a 25-10 landslide in the opening game. Buzzella and Freeman led a late surge for Penn Cambria in the second game, in which PC prevailed, 25-21.
Buzzella led Penn Cambria in service points with 18, while Freeman was a valuable commodity throughout the entire match, registering a team-leading 24 kills and 15 digs.
"She's a good all-around player,'' Montgomery said of Freeman.
Altoona showed moxie by winning the third game, 25-22, and pulling even with a 25-21 win in the fourth game. Junior rightside hitter Amanda Parrish scored four big service points down the stretch and senior middle hitter Kate Goodman also came up with an athletic spike for another point as Altoona rallied from a 20-17 deficit in the third game. Senior outside hitter Hannah Moore and senior middle hitter Natalie Biesecker made several key plays down the stretch in the fourth game, as Altoona prevailed, 25-21, setting the stage for the winner-take-all fifth game.
"It was a very good match on both sides of the floor,'' veteran Altoona coach Karan Price said. "Penn Cambria is a very well-coached team. They have good athletes, and they know the game and play it well.''
FINAL SCORE: Penn Cambria won, 25-10, 25-21, 22-25, 21-25, 17-15.
ALTOONA: Albright 10, Moore 8, Amanda Parrish 8, Koelle 7, Hileman 7, Goodman 2.
PENN CAMBRIA: Buzzella 18, Shingler 11, Gawel 8, Yusko 7, Freeman 7, Strittmatter 6, Krull 2, Minor 1.
DIGS LEADERS: Albright, A, 32; Freeman, PC, 15.
KILLS LEADERS: Moore, A, 19; Freeman, PC, 24.
ASSISTS LEADERS: Hileman, A, 35; Yusko, PC, 42.
BLOCKS LEADERS: Biesecker, A, 15.
Records: Altoona (6-2); Penn Cambria (10-0).
JV: Altoona won, 25-19, 25-19.