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Oct. 26, 2022 VB Playoff Recaps: Keystone, Kane to Meet in D9 2A Title Game; Top 3 2A Seeds in D10 Advance

Leah Exley helped Keystone beat Punxsutawney in the D9 2A semifinals Wednesday. Photo by Tracy Weckerly

KNOX, Pa. – Defending District 9 champion Keystone was able to outlast upset-minded fourth-seeded Punxsutawney, 3-2 (25-15, 25-15, 22-25, 23-25, 15-7) in the District 9 Class 2A semifinals at Keystone.

Keystone won the first two sets and looked in control before Punxsutawney fought back to take the next two.

The fifth set was then all knotted up at 5 apiece before Keystone went on a 10-2 run to close out the victory.

“We have had a couple of situations this year where we have gotten on top of teams and then had to fend them off,” Keystone head coach Bryan Mong said. “I am not sure if it is overconfidence or whatever. But we have seniors who haven’t cracked under pressure. We were down early in the two sets we won too and had to come back. It is a credit to our seniors who have had the opportunity to play together for a long time and can pull it out when times are tough.”

           

One of those seniors, Leah Exley, played a key role in the middle of the fifth set to help Keystone gain an advantage.

A kill by Exley gave the Lady Panthers a 7-5 lead, and then, after a kill by Punxsutawney’s Ciara Toven got the Lady Chucks back within one, a hitting error by Punxsy followed by an ace by Exley pushed the Keystone lead to three, 9-6.

Exley led Keystone with 17 kills while adding 19 digs and three aces.

“Big-time players make the big plays,” Mong said. “Throughout the season, when we needed a big hit, we have gone to her. When we need a big play, she always makes it. She is a quiet leader who shows leadership through her action on the court. I am happy to have her as one of our leaders and one of our better players.”

A Keystone hitting error got Punxsutawney back within two, 9-7, but the Lady Panthers rolled off the final six points of the match on three kills and three Lady Chucks’ hitting mistakes.

Emma Plummer had two of those kills from her middle hitter spot, including the match-winner, while Sydney Bell had the other kill.

“Emma is definitely a player who doesn’t get the headlines, but she is pretty clutch and likes to step up,” Mong said. “She is definitely a key clog as our other middle with blocks and getting some key hits as she did there when she is needed.”

Bell added nine kills and three aces for Keystone, while Natalie Bowser ran the Lady Panthers’ offense with 22 set assists while adding five blocks and seven hills. Karely Callander chipped in three aces.

Ciara Toven paced Punxsutawney with 10 kills and four aces with Kinsee Barnett and Lexi Poole each adding six kills. Poole also had four digs.

Samantha Griebel had 18 digs and four kills for the Lady Chucks, Sydney Hoffman added 14 digs and two aces, and Zoey Hoover chipped in three kills and two blocks.

Danielle Griebel ran the Punxsutawney offense with 26 set assists and added 26 digs and two kills.

Keystone will face second-seeded Kane for the District 9 title Wednesday, Nov. 2, at a time and place to be announced.

           

The Lady Panthers will be making their third straight trip to the District 9 2A championship match having lost to Redbank Valley in 2020 before beating Redbank Valley last year for the title.

“It means quite a bit to them,” Mong said. “It has been a goal they have had all year. It is something I think that was expected of them from everyone outside of the gym, and they are definitely excited. We will celebrate tonight and then have a whole week to prepare for Kane. We will be ready, and, hopefully, the chips fall in place based on our preparation.”

KANE 3, CRANBERRY 0

KANE, Pa. – Makenzie Blankenship recorded nine kills, five digs, and two blocks to help lift second-seeded Kane to a three-set sweep of third-seeded Cranberry, (25-12, 25-21, 25-23), in the District 9 Class 2A semifinals at Kane.

“Defensively, we played very well,” Kane head coach Judy Kessler said. “Our defense and serve-receive errors have been minimal, and that has allowed us to run our offense. We picked up the temp as the match went on and found some holes in the block to score some kills. Our serving has also been super consistent. Tonight, we were 66 of 68 with eight aces.”

Maya Smith, Cora Jekielek, and Mia Anderson each added four kills for the Lady Wolves with Jayna Johnson (13 set assists) and Elizabeth Yasurek (8 set assists) running the offense.

“The setters are mixing up the attack very well,” Kessler said. “We spread the ball around, which is why we usually have multiple hitters with an even amount of kills. And this team doesn’t get rattled very often. They just battle to the last point.”

Smith added 13 digs for Kane with Anderson chipping in double tandem and two solo blocks and Jekielek contributing 10 digs and a block.

Aryanna Ferringer was pretty much the entire offense for Cranberry with 25 kills while adding two blocks.

“(Ferringer) really played well,” Kessler said. “She attacked the ball from both the front and back rows. We really worked our blocking against her to get hands on the ball or channel the attacks.”

Brooke Hart added nine kills, four digs, and a block in the loss.

Mackenzie Karnes led the defense for the Berries with 11 digs and two blocks, Lillie Kaputa added a pair of aces, and Ashlynn Collins ran the offense with 24 set assists.

Kane, looking for its first D9 title since 2017, will take on top-seeded Keystone, a 3-2 winner over Punxsutawney, in the championship match Wednesday, Nov. 2, at a time and place to be announced.

“The girls were determined to change the pattern of the past two years and get back to the finals,” Kessler said. “They want to be the next number on the championship flag in the gym. We haven’t put one up since 2017.”

SAEGERTOWN 3, HARBOR CREEK 2

COCHRANTON, Pa. – Behind 14 kills and 14 digs from Alyssa Arblaster, second-seeded Saegertown rallied from a 2-1 deficit to knock off seventh-seeded Harbor Creek, 3-2 (25-19, 17-25, 16-25, 25-19, 15-10), in the District 10 Class 2A quarterfinals at Cochranton High School.

“I have called them my ‘Cardiac Kids’ all year,” Saegertown head coach Justyn Greco said. “They are really starting to believe in each other, and that was the difference from the beginning of the season until now.”

Brywn McLaughlin added nine kills for the Panthers with Maggie Triola chipping in eight kills.

“They have shown how much they have grown up this season,” Greco said of her team. “That’s all I can really say. We’re so young, but we have definitely matured.”

Lindsey Greco ran the offense for Saegertown with 37 set assists while adding a pair of aces.

Rylie Braymer was a stalwart of defense for the Panthers with 25 digs to go with a pair of aces, and Kacie Mook added 10 digs and two aces.

Lyndzee Amory was a force at the net on defense with five blocks.

Saegertown will take on third-seeded Corry in the semifinals Wednesday, Nov. 2, at a time and place to be announced.

NORTH EAST 3, SLIPPERY ROCK 0

MEADVILLE, Pa. – It was pure domination for top-seeded and state-ranked North East, as the top-seeded Grape Pickers cruised past eighth-seeded Slippery Rock, 3-0 (25-3, 25-20, 25-11).

Cadence Jones led North East with 12 kills, 11 aces, and eight digs with Delaney Prather adding eight kills.

Briell King and Madisyn Szymanowski also played key roles on defense with Szymanowski having a team-best nine digs with King adding eight.

Grace Sanfilippo ran the offense for North East, ranked fourth in the state in the latest PVCA rankings.

The Grape Pickers will face fifth-seeded Mercyhurst Prep in the semifinals Wednesday, Nov. 2, at a site and time to be announced.

MERCYHURST PREP 3, SHARPSVILLE 1

COCHRANTON, Pa. – Addica Sperry had 21 kills and 16 digs to lead fifth-seeded Mercyhurst Prep to a 3-1 (10-25, 28-26, 25-15, 25-16) win over fourth-seeded Sharpsville at Cochranton High School.

“I am very proud of the team for rallying after the first set,” Mercyhurst Prep head coach Joe Reynolds said. “We did a great job of forcing our standard of play in the match once we got settled in.” We are all very excited to be able to keep playing. It was a great, complete team win tonight.”

Olivia Kulyk added nine kills for the Lakers with Lexi DiFuccia chipping in eight kills and eight digs.

Also on defense for Mercyhurst Prep, Avery Ollinger had 23 digs and Da’Zhana Jordan added 14 digs.

Julia Seth ran the offense for Mercyhurst Prep with 38 set assists and she added 12 digs.

Bella Ritenour and Breanna Hanley led Sharpsville with 10 kills apiece while Chasie Fry had 13 digs and Paige Doyle eight digs.

Ryleigh Fry ran the offense with 30 set assists.

Mercyhurst Prep will take on top-seeded North East in the semifinals Wednesday, Nov. 2, at a time and place to be announced.

CORRY 3, FORT LEBOEUF 1

MEADVILLE, Pa. – Halle Albers and Aubrey Chase each had 11 kills to help Corry beat Fort LeBoeuf, 3-1 (25-21, 11-25, 25-20, 25-18).

Albers had six digs as well.

Tayler Elchynski and Makenna Moore each had 21 digs for the Beavers with Moore chipping in five kills and seven aces.

Payton McCray and Kendyll Chamberlin ran the offense for Corry with McCray picking up 19 set assists while adding 14 digs and Chamberlin adding 10 set assists to go with six digs.

Kayleigh Anderson had 13 kills and two blocks with Kylie Peters adding 11 kills and three blocks for Fort LeBoeuf. Katelynn Olmstead had eight kills and two digs.

Becky Whitman chipped in 17 digs with Bella Johnson adding 11 digs and four aces. Brooke Barney also had 10 digs and three aces.

Mackenzie Galdon ran the offense for the Bison with 35 set assists while adding six digs, two aces, and a kill.

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