Young Lady Marauders capture title as No. 8 seed
By Jim Lane
For the Mirror
Talk about a rags-to-riches story. On Sept. 29, the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic girls volleyball team had a 1-9 record. A little more than one month later, the Lady Marauders are basking in a District 6 Class 1A championship.
BG, which entered the tournament as the eighth seed, garnered the title by sweeping No. 2 Bishop Carroll, 25-18, 25-22, 25-23, Saturday afternoon at the Altoona Area High School Fieldhouse.
The Marauders knocked off No. 1 Northern Cambria and No. 4 Conemaugh Valley before dispatching Carroll.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” said BG coach Bob Kasun. “I’m so happy for the girls, especially the seniors. They led us in so many ways — as role models, as students, as mentors.
“We had 15 new players, who had never played varsity or JV ball, and the seniors were the ones who changed the atmosphere.”
Guilfoyle and Carroll split a pair of regular-season matches, each winning on its homecourt, but the Marauders dominated Saturday, rarely trailing in any of the three sets.
“They’ve improved a lot since the middle of the season,” Carroll first-year coach Katie Wyland said. “Bob Kasun did a great job coaching them.
“We couldn’t pass and we couldn’t hit,” Wyland added. “We had no offense today.”
BG, on the other hand, played well in all phases.
“Our most complete game of the season,” Kasun said. “Our serving was very strong, and got them out of their system. Our blocking was strong, and we made a couple great defensive plays.
“It seemed like every time Carroll made a run we did something exceptionally well and matched them,” Kasun continued. “A month or six weeks ago, we weren’t doing that.”
In Game 1, BG jumped out to a 13-10 lead en route to a 25-18 win. In Game 2, Carroll trailed 14-13 when BG regrouped behind the strong net play of sophomore Pam Lund to win 25-22. In Game 3, the Huskies used a 6-1 rally to pull within a point, 23-24, before Beth Yahner, another soph, got the game and match winning point for the Marauders.
Lund had 10 service points and 16 kills while Yahner had six points, 10 kills and 14 digs.
“Winning the first game was huge,” Kasun said. “Volleyball is such a game of momentum and confidence and to win the first gave us a lot of confidence for the next two.”
“That first game was really important,” Wyland said. “I blame (the loss) on nerves. We’re a young team and that probably had something to do with it. It was important for momentum and we couldn’t come back from it.”
BG had many standouts, including senior libero Lauren Betar, who had four service points and 13 digs.
“The second (regular-season) game with Carroll was the big one for us,” Betar offered. “That’s when I think we turned things around.
“Today, winning the first game was huge,” Betar said. “We won the first game in the other playoff games and to win today felt really good. Once you get that first one, you get more confidence.”
It was the fourth district title for Kasun (two girls and two boys), who has guided the girls program for 12 years after eight seasons with the boys.
“To this day, five years ago, was our last district girls championship,” Kasun said. “Jess Welteroth, our assistant coach, was the standout player in that one. She got a picture on her facebook today of the championship team.
“She brought her medal in to show the girls today and we showed a video of Game 5 against West Branch at lunch, so we definitely had some karma going today.”
Both BG and BC advance to the PIAA state tourney next Tuesday. The Marauders face the WPIAL runnerup and the Huskies go against District 5 champion Berlin Brothersvalley.
“Coming in today, we knew we were already in the PIAA, but we didn’t come for the consolation prize,” Kasun said. “We weren’t settling for second. Our goal was to win District 6.”
Game notes: BG stats — Kills — Lund 16, Yahner 10, Katie Axinn 10; digs–Yahner 14, Betar 13, Danielle Miller 12, Rachel Meintel 9; assists — Gabby Krug 31. … Carroll stats — Kills — Ava Myers 13, Anna Haigh 7, Alexa l Dunchak and Kate Yahner 4; digs — Dunchack and Kate Yahner 8, Kayla Repko 7; assists — Kayla Repko 21. … Wyland was hired as Carroll coach in the middle of August, replacing Joe Shura, who left for another position. … Both teams had outstanding fan support.
BISHOP CARROLL: Myers 4, Kate Yahner 4, Haigh 3, Durbin 3.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE: Lund 10, Leonard 7, Yahner 6, Krug 6, Meintel 5, Betar 4.
Records: Bishop Carroll (16-9); Bishop Guilfoyle (8-13).