COCHRANTON, Pa. – The momentum swung like a pendulum during Tuesday’s PIAA Class 1A first-round volleyball matchup between Cochranton and Homer-Center.
Cochranton went up 2-0, only to watch as the Wildcats came storming back to send the game to a decisive fifth set. The Cardinals gathered themselves and pulled away in that decisive fifth set, 15-4 for a 3-2 (25-18, 25-15, 23-25, 15-25, 15-4) victory that vaulted them into the PIAA quarterfinals.
“It was pretty exciting and pretty nerve-racking at the same time,” said Cochranton’s Taytum Jackson. “We had to push really hard in the fifth set. We should have had them in the third and fourth, but I’m just happy we battled back as a team.”
See Jackson’s full interview here:
The impressive victory in the fifth set came after Homer-Center rallied from down 2-0.
Setter Dana Jackson fed Devyn Sokol early and often in the deciding set, , as she had three kills in the first five points. It was actually tied, 4-4 before Cochranton went on an 11-0 run to close out the match.
“I felt like we served pretty well today, one of our main goals was to serve tough,” said Cochranton coach Marci Malliard. “But I think we definitely have to pass the ball better. We have to have the opportunity to use all of our hitters and not just use our little outside swing all the time.”
Early on it seemed as if there was no way the match would go the distance. After trailing 11-8 in the first, Cochranton (18-2) went on a 9-1 to take control, as they got a couple of big serves from Jaylin McGill and a kill and a block from Sokol. Leading 17-12, Cochranton had no problem closing out the set.
The second set was all Cochranton right from the start, as they jumped out to a 10-3 as Sokol again had a couple of big swings, as did Brooklyn Needler. The lead grew as big as 20-7 and Cochranton closed it out.
Not only was the offense firing on all cylinders, but the defense, led by Chelsey Freyermuth (18 digs) and Jackson (15 digs) was locked in as well.
The third set was back and forth, as neither team was able to get more than a three-point edge the entire way.
The Wildcats’ Marlee Kochman put them up 24-23 and they closed it out on the next point to extend the match.
The fourth set was all Homer-Center, as they jumped out to a 10-0 lead before Cochranton got a point. Anna Cutshall and Macy Sardone both had kills during the early run for the Wildcats. Facing a huge deficit, Cochranton got it as close as three, 17-14 after a block from Eve Pfeiffer, but Homer-Center went on another huge run, 8-0 to close out the set.
Sardone was at the service line for both Wildcat runs in the fourth.
“Everyone has the experience that they can step up and do their part and put it all together like that,” Malliard said.
Sokol finished with 19 kills, Jackson 31 assists, Freyermuth six kills and 18 digs and Needler seven kills.
Up next for Cochranton is a battle in the PIAA quarterfinals (their last appearance came in 2019) with Bishop Canevin, a 3-0 winner over Oswayo Valley.
“I’m excited,” Jackson said. “Honestly, bring it on. We’ll be there playing our game.”
ARMSTRONG 3, CONNEAUT 1
LINESVILLE, Pa. – WPIAL third-place finisher Armstrong won the third and fourth sets to defeat District 10 champion Conneaut, 3-1 (25-22, 17-25, 25-14, 25-23) in the PIAA Class 3A first round at Conneaut High School.
The Eagles fought gallantly in the fourth set erasing a 19-14 deficit to tie the set at 21 and then forged a tied at 22. But a net violation on Conneaut gave the River Hawks the lead for good.
Kaylee Mattera led Conneaut with 26 kills and 19 digs with Rylee Jones adding 25 digs and PAris Karastury 14 digs.
Amber Clark ran the offense for the Eagles with 40 set assists while chipping in 12 digs, and Sylvia Prebor had six kills and three blocks.
Armstrong will face WPIAL runner-up Hampton in the quarterfinals Saturday. The Talbots beat District 9 champion DuBois, 3-0 (25-22, 25-8, 25-20).
HARBOR CREEK 3, SETON LA SALLE 1
HARBORCREEK, Pa. – District 10 champion Harbor Creek overcame a slow start to knock off WPIAL third-place finisher Seton La Salle, 3-1 (24-26, 25-21, 25-19, 25-12) in the PIAA Class 2A first round.
Marie Fitzgibbon had 34 set assists for Seton La Salle.
Harbor Creek stats weren’t reported.
The Huskies will face last year’s PIAA runner-up Philipsburg-Osceola in the quarterfinals Saturday. P-O beat WPIAL runner-up Avonworth, 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-13)
SHALER 3, MCDOWELL 0
ERIE, Pa. – Behind 17 kills from Mia Schubert, WPIAL runner-up Shaler swept District 10 champion McDowell, 3-0 (25-12, 25-12, 25-15) in Erie.
Tia Bozzo ran the offense for the Titans with 40 set assists.
McDowell stats weren’t available.
Shaler will face District 3 champion Hempfield (Lancaster) in the quarterfinals Saturday at a time and place to be announced. Hempfield beat District 1 third-place finishers Unionville, 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-21).
NORTH CATHOLIC 3, CORRY 0
CRANBERRY TWP. Pa. – WPIAL champion North Catholic swept District 10 runner-up Corry, 3-0 (25-8, 25-11, 25-15) in the PIAA Class 2A first-round at North Catholic.
No stats were provided.
North Catholic will face District 5 champion Bedford, a 3-1 (25-16, 23-25, 25-19, 25-19) winner over Keystone in the quarterfinals Saturday.