CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) – Clarion used a mix of powerful hitting along with a little soft service to help the Bobcats advance to the District 9 Class A final with a 25-17, 25-11, 25-16 victory over rival Clarion-Limestone on Tuesday evening at Clarion High School.
“I thought we played pretty well that first set, but I also thought C-L played their best in that first set,” said Clarion coach Shari Campbell. “I just thought we responded well going into the second set and that opening run just took the wind out of their sails a bit.”
C-L (12-3 overall) kept things close throughout the first half of the first set, trailing just 12-10. The Lions continued to keep things close by trailing 18-15 before Clarion finished off the opening set with a 7-2 run for the 25-17 victory.
Payton Simko served for seven of her 15 points to start the second set, giving Clarion a 7-0 lead. It would be a lead the Lions wouldn’t be able to recover from as that lead ballooned to 11-1. C-L would get no closer than eight points at 13-5 as Clarion continued to pull away for the 25-11 victory.
“It was hard to regroup after the start of that second set,” said C-L coach Ryan Troupe. “We talked coming in that Clarion plays a very clean game and they made very few errors. If we made too many errors, it was going to be hard for us. We played well in some phases, but we just made too many errors overall.”
With Clarion leading just 11-9 in the third set, the Bobcats would use an 8-2 run to extend the lead to 19-11. A 4-0 run by C-L closed the gap to five at 19-14, which would be as close as they would get the rest of the match. Clarion closed out the set and the match with a 6-2 run to move onto the District 9 final.
“We saw some film and saw that they had trouble with some softer serving teams,” said Campbell. “Payton is a soft server and we felt that change would benefit us.”
Korrin Burns continued her stellar season with 18 kills, nine digs, and six points. Aryana Girvan added nine kills and eight points. Noel Anthony handed out 24 assists while Jordan Best served for six points.
“At this point, it’s all about the drive to be successful,” said Campbell. “They have their goals, and they want to continue to play the best volleyball that they can. We always work on the mental aspects of the game as well as the physical side.”
Ruby Smith paced C-L with seven kills while Celia Shaffer added five. Kendall Dunn handed out 15 assists while serving for five points with two aces. Brooke Kessler added four points with one ace and Abby Himes added three points.
“The success this season is all the girls doing,” said Troupe. “They worked really hard to get to this point. They bought into a lot of what we wanted. It’s a good feeling to advance this far. We’ll keep working hard and try and make this the norm and not just a once in how many years kind of thing.”
Clarion will play Oswayo Valley, which upset Elk County Catholic 25-22, 27-25, 25-14.
Tori Newton had 16 kills and Moira Stanisch had 18 assists for ECC in the loss.
Stats were unavailable for Oswayo Valley.
“It is always tough to lose and this is not how we planned on ending our season,” said Elk County coach Tricia Bauer in an email to D9sports.com. “I felt our defense did a great job tonight. We had a few tough breaks, but overall the girls played a good game.”
Seniors playing in their final match for the Crusaders were Abby Hasselman, Kat Krist, Stanisch and Sydney O’Leary.