GUYS MILLS, Pa. – A timeout late in the first set of Maplewood’s 3-1 win over Frazier in the PIAA Class 1A first round might have changed everything for the District 10 champion Tigers.
Rewatch the match via MHS Media
Maplewood, who is also the defending PIAA champion, found itself in a deep hole down 24-18 in the opening set when legendary head coach Shelia Bancroft called timeout.
At that point, everything was different for the Tigers.
While they lost the opening set, 28-26, they actually rolled off seven straight points out of the timeout to take a 25-24 lead.
They then rolled through the next three sets by scores of 25-17, 25-14, and 25-10 to oust the WPIAL’s third-place team and advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals against WPIAL runner-up Bishop Canevin.
“I told them we needed momentum and we needed to make them handle the ball,” Bancroft said. “We were not going to outpower them. I watched them warm up, and I knew they were athletic and were going to pound the ball. I said we need to not make the errors, make them handle, and let the fundamentals of the game take over.”
Take over did the fundamentals.
Maplewood used strong serving, great defense, and a smart attack to right the ship.
“I think we all got the momentum and we really wanted it,” Madison O’Hara, whose defense and serving played a key role in helping the Tigers to the win, said during the Cole Orthodontic Associates postgame interview. “We were all like we have to get rid of that set and make them play the ball.”
O’Hara had two aces, 10 digs, and seven kills, and it was her serving along with the serving of Ley Potosky and Mylee Crawford that continuously kept Fraizer out of system.
“(It) was just the thought that I needed to get (the serve) in, and they needed to play it so they made the errors,” O’Hara said.
Watch O’Hara’s full interview
Serve the Tigers did.
Maplewood finished with nine aces and had a serving game that Frazier found difficult to handle.
Couple that with strong passing – a lot of that started with the first touch from Libero Bree Neely who had 24 digs – and it made for a great recipe for success.
“I say it over and over, serving and passing, serving and passing,” Bancroft said. “We picked them apart on the serve and started passing a little bit better.”
While the serving and defense were major keys to the victory, so was the play at the net of Elizabeth Hunter, one of a handful of Maplewood players who had experience in the state title run a year ago.
Hunter had a match-high 16 kills while hitting .342 from her middle hitter spot (14 kills, 3 errors, 38 attempts). She also added three blocks on defense to account for 17 points.
“She has to (play like that),” Bancroft said. “And we have to put the ball in her hands. I told her she had a big block in front of her but she couldn’t lay back and not swing. You just have to cut it a little bit more. You can’t hit straight on. They are going to get their blocks on her, but if we were going to win this we had to put it in Elizabeth’s hands.”
Savannah O’Hara, Madison’s older sister, also had a strong night at the net for the Tigers with eight kills while freshman Bailey Moyer added seven kills.
Maggie Means ran the offense with 35 set assists.
Madelyn Salisbury had eight kills and two blocks for Frazier with Allie Monack leading the Commodores with nine kills.
Frazier hurt itself early with a number of net violations but quickly got that fixed in the final two sets but couldn’t get any offense going against a strong Maplewood defense.
“We practice our coverage really hard,” Bancroft said. “I knew scouting them, they are a very good blocking team. We put in a couple of drills for that reason. We were able to pick some up on the coverage. We made a few adjustments on defense, and, again, they trusted each other. We came through at the end.”
Editor’s note: Photos in this story are courtesy of Richard Sayer of 8and322.com.