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Spiking Adversity: Keystone Volleyball Team Overcomes Loss of Four Players to COVID Quarantine to Beat Karns City

KNOX, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Emma Gruber had never played libero before. Never even practiced at that position.

But because of COVID protocols that sent four Keystone volleyball players into quarantine before Tuesday night’s match, the sophomore was thrust into that position.

And she excelled.

Gruber led the team with 14 digs as the Panthers held off visiting Karns City 25-23, 25-16, 25-23.

“I am very proud of her,” said Keystone coach Bryan Mong. “She has only ever worked in practice as a front row player, but she is scrappy and a hustler. So, I took a gamble plugging her in there and she did phenomenal.”

Senior Alyssa Weaver also came up big at the service line with 14 points and three aces.

Senior Jozee Weaver had a huge game at the net for Keystone (3-1) with 12 kills to go along with six points and two aces.

Keystone and Karns City just met Saturday in the final at the Franklin Tournament with the Panthers emerging with the victory.

The Gremlins were just as tough Tuesday.

Rosalie Carden had nine assists and five digs and Ashley Fox pitched in three kills and 15 digs for Karns City, which spread things around at the net.

Jessica Dunn, Natalie Hess, Amber Mauer and Ava Fox all had multiple kills for the Gremlins.

For Mong and Keystone, it was a great lesson in how to tackle adversity.

“That was the point made tonight to the group as well after the game,” Mong said.

Keystone will play Clarion Thursday, but will still be missing its four quarantined players, Mong said.

Union 3, Cranberry 0 — Dominika Logue had eight kills, two aces and five digs as the Damsels earned the 25-23, 25-17, 25-21 sweep.

Hailey Kriebel added five kills and Kennedy Vogle also had 10 digs and four aces for Union.

Elk County Catholic 3, Brockway 0 — Tori Newton registered 11 kills and seven aces to lead the Crusaders to a 25-8, 25-15, 25-9 sweep.

Maddie Bierley and Madison Marzullo each pitched in five kills and Abby Hasselman came up big in the back row in the winning effort for ECC.

Cross Country

Kaine McFarland crossed the finish line first as the North Clarion boys cross country team downed Clarion, 15-50.

(Kaine McFarland)

Aiden Thomas, Gabriel Fair and Dane Sliuker were the next three placers for the Wolves. Braden Custer was seventh overall and Parker Evans eight for North Clarion.

Ryan Alston was Clarion’s top finisher, coming in fifth.

On the girls side, Clarion didn’t have a full team. North Clarion’s Brynn Siegel placed first, followed by teammates Jordyn Hendrickson, Kayla Aaron, Emily McCaslin and Paige Hetrick.