BROCKWAY, Pa. – When Kane lost at Brockway to close out the regular season, it would have been fair to wonder if the Lady Wolves had a realistic shot at repeating as District 9 Class 2A champions.
But head coach Judy Kessler never doubted realizing that her team was good at putting things behind it.
And put it behind them the Lady Wolves did, winning a pair of playoff games, including a 3-1 (24-26, 25-20, 25-21, 26-24) victory over Moniteau in the title match on the same Brockway court to become the first D9 2A team to win back-to-back titles since Punxsutawney won six in a row from 2005-2010 in the old three-classification system.
“Our mentality is once it happens, you have to forget it,” Kessler said. “I preached it at practice. I preach it during games. I preached it tonight. You have to let it go. You have to move on. Even as fast as I shanked ball one because if somebody saved ball two and you are pouting and ball three comes back to you and you blow it, that’s on you. They don’t want to be that girl. I don’t harp on them about stuff. I tell them what they did. I go let’s fix it, and they, mentally, are some of the toughest bench of kids.”
Rewatch the match
Mia Anderson played a huge role in the victory with 16 kills and 10 blocks.
“It feels surreal,” Anderson said. “As a senior, this is what we have been dreaming about back in July. We had many downs with our season. We had a lot of losses that we didn’t think we should have. So, coming here and winning it was surreal.”
Anderson echoed her coach’s thoughts on being able to keep things in the past in the past.
“We had a week (after the loss at Brockway) (before we played again),” Anderson said. “We took that week as team building and also working on each skill and improving on both of them.”
Watch Anderson’s, the Allegheny Grille of Foxburg Player of the Match, full post-game interview.
Things didn’t start well for Kane, as it got behind 7-0 and 10-2 in the first set before rallying to take an 18-16 lead. But Moniteau stabilized and went up 24-22 before two straight Lady Wolves’ points tied things at 24.
In extra point, though, the Lady Warriors, who were looking for their first-ever D9 title, took a 25-24 lead on a Maya Smith hitting error before winning on a Davina Pry block.
Kane, though, rallied in the second set by getting out to a quick start scoring the first six points and taking a 9-2 lead.
While Moniteau got as close as 14-12, Kane was able to use a 7-1 lead to take complete control of the set at 21-13.
But the Lady Warriors got to 22-20 before a kill by Malaina Nicklas made it 23-20 and a carry by Moniteau made it 24-20. Hailey Hillman then won the set with an ace to tie the match at one set all.
In the third set, Kane again got off to a fast start grabbing a 10-6 lead.
While Moniteau kept things close, getting to 21-19 and 22-20, Kane was able to secure the one-set advantage in the match a kill by Anderson, a dump by Hillman, and another kill by Anderson.
Moniteau seemed in complete control of the fourth set when it took a 22-17 lead on a Marissa Pry kill.
But five straight points from Kane tied it at 22-22.
Two straight points by the Lady Warriors, the second on an ace by Lilly Staab had them one point from forcing a fifth-and-deciding.
But a kill by Smith followed by an Elizabeth Yasurek ace tied the set at 24.
“It is really hard to come back against a team that you pretty evenly matched with,” Kessler said. “That desire to feel that feeling again of winning it really meant a lot to them. They learned. It didn’t happen in the beginning, but they learned to work through the adversity and to just stay calm, get to work, and battle for the point.”
An error by Moniteau then put Kane at championship point, and Smith put the championship on ice with a kill.
“It is so amazing,” Anderson said. “It is crazy. I didn’t think we were going to be here. I am so glad we got here.”
Smith had a great night swinging for Kane with 14 kills while completing a double-double with 19 digs, while Nicklas had seven kills and a block, Hillman added five kills, and an ace, and Leah Tiganihad 27 digs.
Yasurek ran the offense with 39 set assists.
Davina Pry had 10 kills, four digs, and three blocks for Moniteau with Marissa Pry adding seven kills, four digs, and three blocks, and Allie Pry contributing 10 digs and three aces.
Abbey Jewart ran the offense for the Lady Warriors with 20 set assists while adding three kills and an ace.
Kane, which won the D9 title for the third time since 2017 and for the eighth time overall (1982, 1983, 1988, 1997, 2004), will face the third-place team out of the WPIAL, either Quaker Valley or Avonworth, in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs Tuesday presumably in Kane.
“It is really a phenomenal feeling for all the girls who played last year,” Kessler said. “I have three girls, who played (last year) on that court. But those girls who sat the bench behind those seven seniors I had last year, they know what that feeling is.”