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Maplewood Turns in Flawless Effort to Beat Cochranton for D10 Class 1A Volleyball Championship

The 2022 District 10 Class 1A volleyball champions, the Maplewood Tigers. Photo by Andy Close.

MEADVILLE, Pa. – Maplewood picked the perfect time to play its best match of the season.

Sadie Thomas set the tone early with 10 of her 22 kills in the first set as the Tigers beat Cochranton for the District 10 title, 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-23) for the 19th District 10 title in program history.

“We’ve dreamed of this ever since we were little babies,” said senior setter Bailey Varndell, who had 34 set assists in the win.

See Varndel’’s full interview along with teammates Thomas and McKenna Crawford here:

           

The two teams split during the regular season, with this matchup a far cry from the first meeting, a 3-0 Cochranton (which won the D10 title a year ago) win.

“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” said Maplewood coach Shelia Bancroft. “The way this played out, it was meant for us this year. You couldn’t have asked for more. Everyone stepped up and played their A-game today. I’m speechless. I wanted it so bad for these seniors because they’ve been through so much.”

Maplewood jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first set and led throughout, although Cochraton made a run at them. The Cardinals got within one on two separate occasions – 17-16 and 19-18, but each time Maplewood had an answer. First, it was an Elizabeth Hunter kill, followed by a kill from Thomas.

The Tigers overcame a big set from Cochranton’s Devyn Sokol, who had seven of her team-high 17 kills in the first.

“We’ve had a great week of practice and we’ve focused mentally,” Bancroft said. “We knew we had the physical capability, the question mark was the mental part of the game. That part of it, they all stepped up.”

The second set was all Tigers. After the score was tied at 3-3, they went on an 8-1 run, which included a pair of aces from Thomas as well as kills from freshman Bree Neely and sophomore Megan Woge.

“I started a freshman for the first time ever all year,” noted Bancroft. “Bree Neely came in and said ‘what pressure?’ I had a gut feeling, made the move, and it paid off.

Cochranton, like great teams do, pushed Maplewood in the third.

Early kills from Brooklyn Needler and Dani Hoffman helped stake them to a 9-6 lead.

           

Maplewood came storming back, with Woge and Thomas keying a 10-4 run to give them a 16-13 advantage. They never trailed again.

“We didn’t pass as well as we needed to and made way too many errors,” said Cochranton coach Marci Maillard. “You can’t give a good team that many points. Maplewood played great defense.”

That great defense for Maplewood was keyed by Crawford, who had a team-high 11 digs. Hunter finished with nine kills, while Woge had five and Neely four.

Maplewood’s Saide Thomas goes up for an attack. Photo by Andy close.

“We got the lead, played flawlessly, and forced Cochranton to play on their heels a little bit,” Bancroft said.

For Cochranton, Needler and Hoffman had seven kills each, while Dana Jackson had 29 set assists and Taytum Jackson 18 digs.

Cochranton’s Devyn Sokol (14) plays a ball over the net. Photo by Andy Close.

With the win, Maplewood advances to play District 9 runner-up Elk County Catholic in the first round of the PIAA playoffs on Tuesday.

“The games are just going to get harder and harder,” Bancroft said. “It will be a rough road out there, but I don’t want this to be the stopping point. I want them to keep pushing.”

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