DUBOIS, Pa. – The Elk County Catholic Lady Crusaders won their first District 9 volleyball crown in 27 years as they defeated the Lady Lions of Clarion-Limestone in straight sets 25-21, 25-18, and 25-18 at the DuBois Area High School gymnasium Thursday evening.
A very noisy, near-capacity crowd witnessed the much-anticipated match between two of the top Class 1A teams in the state, both being unbeaten to boot.
“I’m just super happy right now,” said ECC head coach Tricia Bauer, “The girls played their hearts out tonight.”
Tori Newton showed why she is one of the area’s best as she racked up 17 kills and 19 digs for the Lady Crusaders, who are unbeaten and ranked No. 2 in the state.
“She’s an incredible player,” Coach Bauer said.
Teammate Reagan Bauer had a huge night also for Elk County with eight kills, 22 digs, and 3 serving aces. Lucy Klawuhn had 18 digs for the victors, and Ashlynn Schutz led ECC with three blocks. Kiri Emmert dished out 27 assists to pace all players in that category.
The first set was a back-and-forth affair with neither team able to go ahead by more than three points until the Lady Lions scored seven straight to lead 21-17.
That run was keyed by some nice blocks and counters by C-L.
A timeout by Coach Bauer proved to be a godsend.
From there, Elk County took control and scored eight unanswered points to win the opening set 25-21.
“We came in a little tight, a little trying too hard, not really enjoying the game and feeling the pressure,” said Coach Bauer. “Then, they loosened up a little bit and got back into our rhythm and our game.”
The second set saw some swings of momentum.
ECC opened a 10-4 lead before C-L slowly climbed back into the game by claiming nine of the next 11 points to go ahead 13-12.
But the Lady Crusaders kicked it up a notch and eventually pulled away, winning 25-18.
The third set found Elk County Catholic jumping out to a 7-0 lead.
Although, from there, the Lady Lions played them even, it was too much to overcome.
The Lady Crusaders got more vocal and excited as the third set wore on and when the winning point was scored to give them the District 9 Class 1A title, the excitement turned to jubilation.
“A lot of credit goes to Elk County, they deserved it the way they played,” C-L head coach Ryan Troupe said.
For Clarion-Limestone, Ansley Burke led the way with 11 kills and Maddy Greeley notched seven kills. Kaylee Smith doled out 22 assists and led the team with three aces. Jenna Dunn had 18 digs, while Abby Knapp-Greeley had 14 digs and Hannah Beggs came up with 13 for the Lady Lions, who suffered their first loss, and who are ranked ninth in the state.
The Lady Crusaders will meet the District 6 runner-up next Tuesday, while the Lady Lions will face off against the District 6 champ on the same day. West Branch, the No. 1 team in the state, plays Homer-Center for the D6 title Saturday.
NOTES – It is ECC’s first D9 title since winning the third of three in a row in Class 2A under the old two-classification system in 1996. In addition to titles in 1994, 1995, and 1996, ECC also won D9 titles in 194, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1989 in Class 2A … The Lady Crusaders were D9 runners-up last year to Oswayo Valley and in 2020 to Clarion … C-L was looking for its first title since winning back-to-back championships in Class 1A in 2004 and 2005, the only two titles in school history … The 2005 title was the last time the Lady Lions played for a championship.