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Top 25 Countdown 2021

Top 25 Countdown No. 2: Nearly Perfect Clarion Wins Second PIAA Volleyball Crown

D9and10Sports.com is counting down what we believe are the Top 25 moments/games/performances of the 2020-21 high school sports season in District 9 and District 10.

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No. 2: Clarion Volleyball Captures Gold

The 2019 volleyball season ended in disappointment for the Clarion Lady Cats, who lost in the PIAA Class 1A semifinals.

But that loss left more than just a bitter taste in the players’ mouths. It also left a desire to move beyond it, a fire in the belly, so to speak, to show that they were the best team in Pennsylvania.

Then the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, and things, as we knew them, came to a sudden halt.

The ability to even get in the weight room, to practice in the spring and summer were all changed.

Then the PIAA delayed the start of fall sports. The players and coaches didn’t even know if they would get a chance to show what they were all about.

When the season finally did start, it started in empty gyms with even the bench players being told they had to sit in the hallway in order to cap capacity to 25 totals people in the gym.

Family and friends watched on make-shift videos or waited until after the match to find out who won.

While those restrictions gradually lifted to an extent – gyms were never even close to full capacity all year – it was anything but a normal atmosphere for the Lady Cats.

But through it all, it didn’t matter.

Clarion was nearly perfect.

The Lady Cats went 24-0 on the season. But even more impressively, they went 69-1 in sets (They were awarded a forfeit over A-C Valley in the D9 quarterfinals which doesn’t count in the set-win total) and most of the sets weren’t even close.

Clarion, whose only set loss was a 26-24 defeat to Maplewood Sept. 23 (it won its final 57 sets) outscored opponents by an AVERAGE of 25-12 during the season and allowed just eight teams to even reach 20 points IN A SET the entire year and only one to do so in the postseason. That included a dominating, 3-0 (25-16, 25-14, 25-15) win over Marian Catholic in the PIAA Class 1A championship game.

Clarion also won at WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin, 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-14), in the PIAA semifinals after knocking off District 6 champion West Shamokin, the second-ranked team in Class 1A in Pennsylvania at the time, 3-0 (25-10, 25-23, 25-11), in the PIAA quarterfinals.

In District 9 playoff action, the Lady Cats got a COVID-related forfeit win over A-C Valley before beating fifth-seeded Oswayo Valley, 3-0 (25-8, 25-10, 25-7), in the semifinals, and rolling past third-seeded Elk County Catholic, 3-0 (25-13, 25-8, 25-10), in the championship game for their third straight D9 1A title and their 14th in the last 22 years.

The team was led by a trio of players who were named the Tri-D9and10Sports.com District 9 Volleyball MVPs.

Junior outside hitter Korrin Burns average 5.2 kills per set on the year while hitting .441. She added 1.8 digs per set, 51 aces, and 15 blocks and severed at an 84.5 percent clip. Burns recorded her 1,000th career kill in the D9 title game.

Senior outside hitter Erica Selfridge, whose family moved from New York state prior to the year to be closer to her sister, who plays at Clarion University, added 3.2 kills per set while hitting .488, the best hitting percentage in Pennsylvania. She also averaged 2.6 digs per set and 3.4 serve receives per set while making just five serve receive errors all season. She also had 50 service aces and served at a 93.1 percent clip. Selfridge recorded her 1,000th career kill in the win over West Shamokin in the PIAA quarterfinals. She is taking her talents to NCAA Division II Slippery Rock University.

Brenna Campbell, the senior starter at setter and a four-year starter at setter, is the daughter of head coach Shari Campbell. Brenna averaged 9.8 set assists per set and was charred with just 11 ball-handling errors on the season despite 1,373 ball-handling attempts. She added 51 aces and served a team-best 95.7 percent while also adding 1.5 digs per set. Campbell recorded her 3,000th career set assist in the D9 title game. She is taking her talents to NCAA Division III McDaniel College in Maryland.

The awards flowed for all three players with Burns named the KSAC MVP, a first-team PVCA All-District 9 Class 1A player, and a PVCA All-State player. Selfridge was a first-team All-KSAC, first-team PVCA All-District 9 Class 1A, a PVCA All-State honoree, and an All-AVCA Region 2 player, and Campbell was the PVCA District 9 Class 1A MVP, a first-team All-KSAC selection, a PVCA All-State player, and an All-AVCA Region 2 honoree.

The AVCA Region 2 includes Washington D.C., Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

In addition, sophomore RS hitter Aryanna Girvan was a second-team All-KSAC and a PVCA All-State player, junior Libero Jordan Best was a third-team All-KSAC, second-team PVCA All-District 9 Class 1A, and a PVCA All-State player, and junior outside hitter Payton Simko was a third-team PVCA District 9 Class 1A honoree.

Shari Campbell was named the D9and10Sports.com Coach of the Year after guiding the Lady Cats to their second PIAA title and their first since 2012 and was also one of four AVCA Region 2 Coached of the Year.

Campbell won her 400th career game in 25 seasons (22 at Clarion and three at Clarion-Limestone) in the D9 semifinal win over Oswayo Valley and has 404 wins with 14 D9 titles, two state titles, and two state runner-up finishes (all at Clarion) on her resume.

 

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