HYDE, Pa. – Two teams that at least on paper seem to be evenly matched will square off in the PIAA Class 1A semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Clearfield High School when top-ranked Clarion takes on second-ranked and defending PIAA Class 1A champion Northern Cambria.
(Photo by Kim Constantino)
The match, which is a rematch of a quarterfinal match from a year ago won by Northern Cambria, 3-1 (25-20, 22-25, 27-25, 25-17), will be broadcast on D9Sports.com and exploreClarion.com starting at 6:20 p.m.
Both teams enter the match with one loss with Northern Cambria going 21-1 on the season with its lone defeat coming to West Shamokin, Oct. 8, and Clarion entering at 18-1 with its lone loss coming 3-1 to State College, ranked No. 6 in Class 4A, Oct. 17.
On the year, the District 9 champion Lady Cats have lost just six sets, none in five playoff matches, while District 6 champion Northern Cambria has dropped just nine sets, including a pair in the PIAA playoffs.
Clarion has rolled through the District 9 and PIAA playoffs winning its five matches by an average margin of 25-16.2 while allowing just three teams to get to 20 points in a set (A-C Valley 20 in the second set of the D9 semifinals, Saegertown 23 in the third set of the PIAA first round and Bishop Carroll 20 in the first set of the PIAA quarterfinals) and have trailed late in set just once in the postseason when Sagertown led 23-19.
Playing 18 sets in postseason action, Northern Cambria is 15-3 with an average score of 24.4 to 16.2.
The similarities don’t end there.
The top hitter for the Lady Colts is junior Maggie Hogan, who averages 4.1 kills per set while hitting .346 and adding 1.2 aces, 0.3 blocks and 2.5 digs per set.
Sophomore Korrin Burns, who is trying to become the third family members – one of her sisters and her mom have already won titles – to win a PIAA championship leads the Lady Cats with 4.3 kills per set while hitting .308 and adding 2.0 digs per set, 0.3 blocks per set and 0.5 aces per set.
Both teams are also blessed with a deep hitting rotation.
Also for Northern Cambria, Jenna Lutch chips in 2.0 kills per set while hitting .406, Autumn Donatelli adds 1.8 kills per set, Emma Kollar chips in 1.4 kills per set, Brooke Lieb contributes 1.2 kills per set and Camryn Dumm 1.2 kills per set.
For Clarion, Kait Constantino is bringing 2.4 kills per set while hitting .219, Maddie Schill adds 1.2 kills per set while hitting .227, Aryana Girvin chips in 1.2 kills per set (including 1.9 in postseason play while coming off a 12-kill performance against Bishop Carroll) and Payton Simko adds 0.6 kills per set.
Both teams are blessed with strong setters.
For Northern Cambria, Dumm runs the offense averaging 8.6 set assists per set while adding 2.1 digs per set, 0.6 aces per set and 0.5 blocks per set.
Clarion looks to junior Brenna Campbell, the PAVCA District 9 Class 1A and KSAC MVP to run the show.
Campbell averages 8.1 set assists per set while adding 0.25 kills, 1.6 digs and 0.5 aces per set.
Defensively, Rayna Buza paces Northern Cambria with 3.3 digs per set, while Lieb chips in 2.9 digs per set and Donatelli 2.0 digs per set. Jenna Lutch (0.3 blocks per set) and Emma Kollar (0.5 blocks per set) are big at the net for the Lady Colts.
Clarion was without Libero KK Girvan (2.7 digs per set) in the win over Bishop Carroll and her status for Tuesday is in question. Jordan Best (1.0 digs per set) moved into the Libero role Saturday and had a team-high 16 digs. Constantino adds 2.4 digs per set, while Schill adds 0.6 per set and had seven in the win over Bishop Carroll.
Schill (0.7 blocks per set) and Simko (0.3 blocks per set) have also been big at the net for Clarion.
The winner moves into the PIAA title match which will be played at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg against the winner of the other semifinals match between District 5 champion Berlin Brothersvalley and District 11 champion Nativity.
NOTES: Clarion has been eliminated by the PIAA Class 1A champion in each of the last two seasons having lost to Maplewood in the semifinals in 2017 … The Lady Cats won the PIAA Class 1A title in 2012, 3-0 over Williamson. That was the third straight PIAA Class 1A title match appearance for Clarion, which lost to Linesville, 3-0, in 2011 and Holy Name, 3-1, in 2010. Those are the only three PIAA title match appearances for the Lady Cats … Northern Cambria has been to the PIAA title match five wins winning in 2005 (3-0 over Marian Catholic), 2009 (3-0 over Holy Name) and 2018 (3-1 over Berlin Brothersvalley) while losing in 2004 (3-0 to Cochranton) and 2006 (3-0 to Reading Central Catholic) all in Class 1A.