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COMEBACK KIDS: Conneaut Authors Pair of Epic Rallies to Win Fourth Consecutive D10 3A Volleyball Title

The 2022 District 10 Class 3A volleyball champion Conneaut Eagles. Photo by Andy Close.

MEADVILLE, Pa. – Conneaut had not one but two comebacks for the ages in Saturday’s District 10 3A title match against Warren.

The No. 1 seed Eagles rallied from deficits of 11 and nine in the first and second sets to earn a 3-1 (25-23, 25-23, 26-28, 25-17) win over No. 3 Warren for their fourth consecutive D10 crown.

“It’s super special to know that since I was a freshman I’ve had the opportunity to be in D10 every year,” said CASH senior Kaylee Mattera, who had a team-high 16 kills to go along with 14 digs and four blocks. “To win it with this senior crew and everybody else, we’re super close and we’re all best friends, so it’s special.”

See Mattera’s full interview here:

           

The comebacks were almost hard to fathom.

The first set saw the Eagles go on a 13-0 run to take a 20-18 lead and in the second, they took their first lead at 23-22.

“I don’t think I can put it into words right now,” said Conneaut coach Christine Krankota said. “We came into tonight saying if we kept our composure, maintained our focus, and let it all out effort-wise it would give us a good chance. And all three of those things were needed.

“In a match of this intensity, with this much pressure, we just told them to chip away, one point at a time. It speaks volumes as far as their confidence and skill set. A team is a group of people, and the best teams are groups that trust one another. And you saw that tonight.”

Warren led 18-7 in the first after a kill from Kylie Fehlman when the first rally started. Syliva Prebor, Lainie Harrington, and Mattera all came up with huge kills during the run, while Ginger Woods was critical in the middle with a team-high eight blocks.

Conneaut took its first lead of the match, 19-18 on a Warren hitting error, and two kills from Mattera helped them to close out the set.

“We just played like we know we can play and told ourselves that we can do it,” said junior libero Paris Karastury, who finished with a team-high 17 digs.

See Karastury’s full interview here:

           

The same script played out in the second set.

Warren got strong hitting from Fehlman, Maddy Jones, Carly Beers, and Alexia Bowers to build a 17-8 advantage.

This comeback from CASH was a little more methodical but had the same result.

It started with consecutive kills from Mattera and Prebor and an ace from Ashlee Barabas

Krankota credited the serving of Ashley Crabb in the first set and Barabas in the second as keys to the comebacks.

“Ashley Crabbe had a critical serving run in the first set and Ashley Barabas, same in the second,” Krankota said. “And Ginger Woods had some big blocks that allowed us to seize momentum back in our favor.

Warren still had command at 22-19 after a kill from Jones, but CASH rattled off the next four points, with Karastury notching an ace and Harrington a kill, as well as a Warren hitting error.

Warren’s Syliva Prebor goes up for an attack between Warren’s Maddy Jones (6) and Kirsten Johnson (22). Photo by Andy Close.

The Dragons got level at 23-all on a kill by Kirsten Johnson, but Conneaut closed it out on a pair of Waren hitting errors.

Undeterred, Warren battled back to take the third set, 28-26 to extend the match. It was Conneaut that actually led, 18-14, but Warren went on a 4-0 run to tie it up, ending with a kill from Beers. Both teams had chances to close out the set before a long rally ended with a kill from Jones to give the Dragons the set.

“If we close out either one of them (first or second set), maybe it’s a different story,” said Warren coach Mike Dolan. “We’re super proud of them. Maybe it helped to have to battle against Meadville and Cathedral Prep in the third game of both of those, we really had to battle. We could have folded, but they kept fighting. That is a really good CASH team. They are well-coached and play great defense.”

Leading 11-10 in the fourth set, Conneaut went on a 7-0 run to assume command and ultimately close out the Dragons.

Krankota was equally complimentary of the way Warren fought.

“They’re a fantastic team,” Krankota said. “They’re disciplined, well-coached, and are very balanced offensively. We knew that it was going to be a tall task.”

For Conneaut, Prebor finished with nine kills and four blocks, Harrington seven kills and three blocks, Payten Karastury 28 set assists and seven digs, Barabas four aces, and Kenady Oates eight digs.

Warren’s Alexia Bowers (14) goes up for an attack. Photo by Andy Close.

For Warren, Beers had seven kills, eight digs, and one ace, Fehlman a team-high 13 kills and four blocks, Jones nine kills, eight digs, three blocks, and two aces, Lindsay Madigan 35 set assists and six digs, Summer Lucks 23 digs and one ace, Bowers seven kills, Johnson three kills, three blocks, and two aces and Sophie Walker three digs and one assist.

With the win, Conneaut moves on to play WPIAL runner-up South Fayette in the first round of the PIAA playoffs on Tuesday.

“There are so many emotions that are running through us,” Krankota said. “It’s very overwhelming and very humbling. It’s been amazing watching these seniors grow up right in front of us over the last four years. They have such a strong bond.”

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