Lady Colts out

DuBOIS — It turned out to be more substance than flash that cost the Northern Cambria volleyball team a chance to move on in the PIAA Class 1A quarterfinals as the Colts fell to Clarion in four sets at DuBois Saturday.

The Colts (23-1) turned in some good play at the net in the opener, leading to a 27-25 victory, but started to struggle from there as Clarion took the next three sets in order, 25-20, 25-14, 25-16, to walk away with the victory.

Northern Cambria’s play up front was certainly an important part as it put down 10 more kills than the Lady Bobcats in the first set before watching that advantage trim to a mere one in the second set.

It was the Lady Bobcats’ ability to adjust their scheme at the net after the first game that seemed to make the biggest difference.

Clarion started to force the game from the outside to the inside where junior Hailey Sintobin and sophomore Maddison Schill gummed things up in the middle.

The duo didn’t come away with big kills, but they did get their hands on enough kill attempts by Northern Cambria to get the Colts to second-guess their placement and it started to show.

After that, Clarion controlled both the net and the momentum the rest of the way.

“It’s a game of momentum and Clarion made some very good plays,” Northern Cambria coach Mike Hogan said. “I give (Clarion) a lot of credit. They outperformed us today. We made a couple mistakes and kind of got back on our heels and just didn’t quite seem to be able to recover.”

Northern Cambria freshman Maggie Hogan appeared to be on her way to a big day at the net as she hammered down seven of the Colts’ nearly 20 kills in the first set but managed just eight more over the next three sets combined.

“Northern Cambria’s strengths are on the antennas,” Clarion coach Shari Campbell said. “Maggie and Camryn (Dumm) have played (a little) with my daughter since the sixth grade so I kind of know their tendencies. But just knew that we had to kind of play away from that and play to our strengths and have them play through the middle.”

Meanwhile, Northern Cambria also had some problems getting any sustained runs on the service line throughout the contest as seniors Paige Kirkpatrick and Breanna Lieb both managed runs of three points.

In fact, after Lieb’s run of three points early in the second set, Northern Cambria managed to get more than one point off a single service just once and that came late in the second. Every offensive service scored by the Colts in the third and fourth sets were single points.

While Clarion’s largest run was five points, the Lady Bobcats always seemed to come away with one more than Northern Cambia, especially late in the sets.

And, as the leads grew, it became harder and harder for the Colts to rally as the match went on.

It was the second time that the two teams met this season with Northern Cambria taking the first match in five sets at Clarion, Oct. 4.

The third set was tight through the early going with Clarion holding just a two-point advantage, 12-10, before the Lady Bobcats pulled away for the 25-14 victory.

Northern Cambria fell behind early in the final set and never truly recovered. The Colts managed to cut the lead to two twice in the opening minutes but Clarion simply overwhelmed them at the end to take the 25-16 victory.

“I think that we just kind of ran out of gas there a little bit,” Hogan said. “It’s been a long season and we have a lot of girls that have never been in this situation before so I’m really proud of them hanging in there and having an awesome year. (To go) 23-1 is absolutely nothing to hang your head about. I just think a little mentally or physically, we might have run out of gas, but there’s one thing about it, the Colts didn’t quit. We kept battling through it and fought hard all the way to the end.”

Clarion will now move on to play Maplewood, which defeated Otto-Eldred in the first match, Tuesday.