SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – There are no words for what Korrin Burns did Tuesday night.
Rewatch the match
Clarion head coach Shari Campbell tried but was really at a loss for words.
“I can’t, like, like, unbelievable,” Campbell said after her outside hitter recorded 33 kills in just three sets to give the Lady Cats a chance to defend their PIAA Class 1A title thanks to a 3-0 (25-23, 25-14, 25-21) win over WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin at Slippery Rock High School. “It was unbelievable tonight. I am super proud of her. She just decided to say I will take the swings, and I will be clean, and I will make them play me. It’s amazing to watch her.”
Burns had double-digit kills in each of the three sets, including an insane 12 kills in the first set where she recorded eight after Clarion fell behind 20-14, including scoring five of the Lady Cats final six points in the set on kills.
“We have just been working in practice,” Burns said. “I have a lot (of experience) because I can read the ball a little more. But, I have been in the gym for so long, and I still had the biggest nerves before this game. I was so nervous. Honestly, if you are nervous it is a great thing because it means you care.”
Clarion cared Tuesday. Cared to build on what they had accomplished all season losing just two sets – both to Warren Sept. 20.
Even when things didn’t look great in the first set following a 9-4 run by Bishop Canevin that gave the Crusaders the 20-14 lead, Clarion didn’t panic.
Perhaps it was the experience they have had over the last two years where they have won 44 matches in a row now while losing three sets. Or perhaps it was built on being in positions like this before, most notably at DuBois Oct. 11 when the Lady Cats fell behind 21-13 in the second set before rallying to win the set 27-25. Whatever it was, Clarion never panicked in the opening set when things weren’t going its way.
“We just told ourselves, don’t panic, we’ve got this,” senior Libero Jordan Best said. “Just play like we know how to play. Everything will happen. We came back, and it was all good.”
Aryana Girvan, who had a solid night both offensively (9 kills) and defensively (9 digs) got the rally started with a kill from the left side.
“She was good all the way around,” Campbell said. “She just played really well. She hit some really solid balls. She looked very mature.”
Burns took over from there with a pair of kills to make it 20-18 before Adia Needham and Noel Anthony came up with a block to back ith 20-18, and a hitting error made it 20-19.
Clarion then tied the set on a Needhman block before Burns had three kills in a four-point grouping that saw the Lady Cats score three of the points to take a 23-21 lead.
After a pair of Clarion hitting errors tied things at 23, Bishop Canevin got called for four hits following a tip by Burns to make it 24-23, and then Burns closed out the set with a shot off a Bishop Canevin block. Taylor Alston helped set up the winning point by blocking a ball and then passing up her own block.
“I love being part of Clarion,” Burns said. “Because Coach Campbell puts in so much work to figure out who we have to play in order to give us that situation-like feeling in practice and in games. It’s just awesome.”
The Lady Cats had almost zero issues in the second set riding 10 Burns kills to a 25-14 win to put them within one set of a return trip to the state title match.
And things looked like they would be more of the same in the third set when Clarion raced out to a 7-3 lead thanks in part to four more kills by Burns.
But Bishop Canevin, who had rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the quarterfinals against Cochranton, had other ideas.
The Crusaders rolled off seven straight points during what became a 12-4 run to take a 15-11 lead.
Kyla Hartoyo had a pair of kills and Olivia Thomas a kill and a block during the run that also saw Clarion commit three service errors, a hitting error, and have a four-hit situation.
But again the Lady Cats didn’t panic.
Girvan had another kill from the left side to start an 8-0 run that saw Girvan also serve an ace and Burns record three kills and Needman one kill to take a 19-15 lead on a Burns kill.
“We just tried to stay calm and pretend it was 0-0,” Anthony, who had 40 set assists and eight digs, said. “We just wanted to try to get one point at a time. We just needed to stay calm, relax, and just do what we know how to do.”
Abbie Maziarz didn’t want to lose and had four kills surrounded by a net violation against Bishop Canevin to get the Crusaders back within one, 20-19.
Enter Burns again.
The St. Francis (Pa.) commit had two straight kills to make it 22-19 before a hitting error on Hartoyo made it 23-19.
A Burns hitting error made it 23-20, but she made up for the mistake with another kill from the left side following a great dig by Best to put the Lady Cats at semifinal match point.
Hartoyo kept the match alive for Bishop Canevin with a kill, before Girvan took care of the match with a kill off a block attempt to send Clarion back to Mechanicsburg where it will face Sacred Heart Academy, a 3-0 winner over Canton in the other semifinal match.
“It’s great,” Campbell said. “This is a great team we beat. We’ve had to come through the West bracket, which is always extremely difficult. I think we have seen ourselves grow in confidence and in our play itself as we take on each next challenge. This is extremely satisfying. There are some really great volleyball players on Bishop Canevin, and they have really had an amazing season.”
NOTES – Clarion is in the PIAA Class 1A title match for the fifth time in school history with all five having come in the past 12 years since 2010. The Lady Cats lost the state title match in 2010 and 2011 before winning titles in 2012 and 2020 … Burns added seven digs to her 33 kills and hit .491, while Anthony had two aces and a kill. Best added seven digs, and Grace Ochs had six digs … Clarion hit .387 as a team … Maziarz led Bishop Canevein with 12 kills and two aces … A repeat title for Clarion would follow up Northern Cambria winning back-to-back Class 1A titles in 2018 and 2019. Reading Catholic won back-to-back 1A titles in 2006 and 2007 and Farrel in 2001 and 2002 when the Steelers were a member of the WPIAL before moving back to District 10.