Lady Red Devils edged out in final
By Calem Illig
EBENSBURG — Despite defeating Westmont Hilltop in both regular-season matchups, the No. 1 Central Cambria girls tennis team knew it was in for a close battle Wednesday in the District 6 Class 2A championship.
The No. 4 Hilltoppers were without their star player, Alyssa Kush, in both regular season games, and the Red Devils faced a difficult challenge with her back in the lineup.
While the Red Devils opened with victories in No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles, Westmont Hilltop rode the momentum of two close sets to steal the district crown with a 3-2 victory.
“We knew going into today that it could go either way,” Central Cambria coach Kim Cavalier said. “We were the underdog all season, and we knew coming in that it was going to be a tough match. My girls fought hard, and they had an incredible season, regardless of this loss.”
Central Cambria (13-4) and Westmont Hilltop met in the district final for the seventh-straight year, with the two teams splitting the past six titles.
Westmont (17-3) won its second-straight title Wednesday with close victories in the No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles.
Westmont’s Maria Mackall defeated a scrappy Marly Ratchford in No. 3 singles with a 7-5 victory in the tiebreaker round. Ratchford stayed alive with a 7-6 victory in the second set.
Riley Baxter and Jessica Lian secured a 7-5 victory in the first set of No. 2 doubles over the Red Devil pair of Olivia Berish and Lyza Johnson, and the Hilltopper duo earned a clean sweep (6-0) in the second set to clinch the title for Westmont.
Central Cambria, which won the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference crown, earned a win from Andie McCullough in No. 2 singles (6-1, 6-2) and a No. 1 doubles victory from Ella Persio and Julia Hoffman (6-2, 6-2).
The Hilltoppers, who also received a No. 1 singles win from Kush (6-0, 6-0) over Corrine Markovich, secured their seventh title in 10 years.
“Central Cambria is a great team, and they are a great opponent,” Westmont coach Dan Fregley said. “Both programs are elite programs, and I think both teams should be proud.”