ST. MARYS, Pa. – The Elk County Catholic Crusaders are far from done.
Fresh off their first District 9 title since 1996, ECC earned a 3-1 win over District 6 runner-up Homer-Center, 3-1 (25-21, 25-19, 25-27, 28-26).
Watch highlights from the match
Reagan Bauer had 16 kills and Tori Newton 15 for the Crusaders.
“We really just tried to keep them out of system, serve really hard, get those blocks and play good defense,” Newton said during the Cole Orthodontic Associates postgame interview. “It was just a total team effort. We really pushed ourselves in practice and it was really good to get the win.”
See Newton’s full interview:
It was indeed a total team effort, as Ashlynn Schutz was terrific at the net with nine blocks, while Kiri Emmert ran the offense with 47 set assists.
The Crusaders were in cruise control for the first two sets. In the first, they went on a 12-2 run to extend a 12-11 lead to 24-13. Homer-Center went on an 8-0 run of its own before the Crusaders ended it.
It was more of the same in the second set, ECC led 16-14 before going on a 6-1 run to take control and finish off the set.
The third set was a different story.
ECC got down 8-1 before coming all the way to tie it up at 17, with H-C answering the punch with a counter-punch to close out the set and extend the match.
“We like a little challenge,” said Elk County Catholic coach Tricia Bauer. “We were down 8-1 in the third and came back and almost got them.”
The fourth set was more of the same, with Homer-Center jumping out to an 8-2 lead thanks in large part to Meegan Williams, who had 21 kills.
ECC not only had the answer this time, but they had the finishing punch.
Lucy Klahuwn, Bauer and Newton all had big swings at the net, with Schutz coming up with several critical blocks.
With the scored tied at 22-22, each team alternated points until ECC was able to close it out, 28-26 on a block from Schutz.
“It was defense, it was up front, it was not letting things drop, keeping the hard serve on them,” coach Bauer said. “Our whole goal was to contain 31 (Meegan Williams). She is an amazing player and we wanted to make sure she didn’t get a whole lot of swings. I think we did okay.”
Bauer also had 19 digs and two aces, while Newton had three aces and 10 digs, Klahuwn 12 kills and 18 digs, Schutz five kills and nine digs, Payton Newton five kills, 11 digs and one ace and Emmert 17 digs in front of a packed home crown.
“I think it’s pretty special,” coach Bauer said. “I wish we could play all of our games here.”
With the win, ECC advances to play WPIAL champion Serra Catholic, a 3-1 (25-14, 25-13, 15-25, 25-19) over D10 runner-up Cochranton on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.