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Sweet Victory: Burns’ 33 Kills Helps Clarion Reach PIAA Class A Championship Match for Second Straight Year

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Korrin Burns’ eyes swelled as she saw the set. She jumped. Swung her powerful right arm. Sent the volleyball screaming to the floor with a loud smack at Slippery Rock High School Tuesday night. 

Time after time, kill after thunderous kill, the senior outside hitter on the Clarion volleyball team was bringing the Bobcats closer to history. 

Burns had 33 kills as Clarion swept WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin 25-23, 25-14, 25-21 to punch their ticket to the PIAA Class A championship match. 

Burns was licking her chops all evening in the semifinal against the overmatched Crusaders.

“Whenever it’s just put up there like that, it’s really exciting because it’s like candy,” Burns said, grinning. “My favorite candy is Milk Duds, so the ball was basically a big Milk Dud to me.”

Burns had a lot of Milk Duds against Bishop Canevin. 

“Yeah,” Burns said, laughing. “I guess I did.”

No belly ache for Burns, though, after all those sweets. Instead, it was just smiles and hugs as defending state champ Clarion rans its winning streak to 44 matches with yet another sweep.

The Bobcats (20-0) haven’t lost a set since September.

The only upset stomachs belonged to Bishop Canevin, which had no antidote to Burns.

It wasn’t from a lack of trying. In practices leading up to this match, Crusaders’ coach Angela Wyman tried everything she could to simulate the angle and velocity of Burns’ attacks. That included placing players on top of step ladders and firing shots with a hitting machine.

None of it seemed to work against the real thing.

“She’s just a great player. You can see why she’s been averaging 30 kills per match,” Wyman said. “That’s who they feed. You can’t replicate that in practice. The timing is different.”

Bishop Canevin (26-2), though, started out strong against the Bobcats and led the first set 20-14. But Clarion scored seven consecutive points to take a one-point lead and eked out the game by two.

There was no panic from the Bobcats.

That, too, was no accident. Clarion coach Shari Campbell often challenges her team in practice, putting them in seemingly impossible situations to see if they can wiggle out of them. That and a competitive weekend tournament slate this season prepared the Bobcats for pressure situations like the ones they saw in the first set on Tuesday night.

“We have competitive drills in practice,” Campbell said. “I put some crazy expectations on them and make them try to accomplish certain things by handicapping ourselves. We do mental training as well to try to build a mindset that is really gritty.”

Clarion cruised in the second set to go up 2-0. The Bobcats, though, witnessed first-hand on Saturday how Bishop Canevin rallied from 2-0 down against Cochranton to win.

The weren’t about to let up.

“We definitely prepared for that,” said Clarion senior libero Jordan Best. “We said, ‘They were down last time and won.’ So, in the third set, we had to bring it all and go as hard we can so they wouldn’t think they could do it again.”

Clarion did just that and will now shoot for it second consecutive Class A state title.

It isn’t easy to make it to back-to-back state title matches, yet Clarion has made it look that way.

“It means so much, especially since it’s my senior year,” Best said.

Clarion has been playing at another level recently, upping its game at just the right time.

The Bobcats have run roughshod over teams from District 9, as well as teams from other districts in this recent run, including two strong teams out of the WPIAL in the last four days.

“We knew what we wanted. We knew what was on the line,” Best said. “We said we’re gonna go back-to-back state champs, so we just have put in our all. No regrets. Let’s do this.”

Aryana Girvan added nine kills and nine digs and Noel Anthony had 40 assists.

Clarion had 47 kills as a team and made just 11 errors.

Clarion will play Sacred Heart Academy (19-7), which swept Canton (25-18, 25-18, 25-8) in the other Class A semifinal, at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Still not too early for Burns to gobble up more Milk Duds.

“I’ve enjoyed the journey so far, but it’s not finished,” Burns said. “We’re going to go after it Saturday. I’m really excited, actually.”

So is Best, who has also been playing at a high level of late.

Her birthday is Friday. And she knows exactly what she wants as a perfect gift.

“We’ll have a party for me on the bus Friday on our way there,” Best said, smiling. “We’re just going to have fun, play loose and do what we know how to do. No better present than a state title.”

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