CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — At Clarion volleyball practice, there are targets placed on the floor. Radar guns measure the mph of the serves. Video analysis determines the spin and movement of the volleyball as it screams over the net.
For the Bobcats, serving — as well as most things done in the gym — is a science.
Clarion coach Shari Campbell has gone next-gen stats with her team. She’s taking analytics to a new level.
“It’s really fun,” said senior Korrin Burns, smiling. “We work really hard on it at practice. It’s like an everyday-thing. We don’t let go of it.”
It came in handy against Clarion-Limestone at home Tuesday night in front of a packed gym in a playoff-like atmosphere. Clarion’s serve was too much for the Lions in a 25-14, 25-10, 25-18 sweep.
Clarion had 15 aces in the match. Five Bobcat players had at least two with Burns leading the way with five. Even when Clarion wasn’t getting aces, the serves were difficult enough to handle for the Clarion-Limestone passers that the Lions couldn’t get in system and couldn’t generate many opportunities for its top hitters, like Ruby Smith.
Campbell was covertly flashing numbers behind her back to her servers that corresponded to a spot on the floor. Clarion was expertly taking advantage of struggling passers and difficult-to-reach areas on the other side of the net.
“They were locked in with their serves,” said C-L coach Ryan Troupe. “They were picking out the right targets at the right time, and our girls were really starting to struggle with those serve-receive passes.”
That left little opportunity for the Lions to mount any kind of offensive threat against Clarion.
Smith, who had been on a tear with 35 kills in her last two matches, had only five against the Bobcats.
“That’s the plan — take them out out of the game,” Campbell said.
“We lift. We have a rigorous lifting program, so they’re strong,” Campbell added. “Serving is the first attack. So, we want to attack them.”
Clarion had plenty attacks at the net, too.
(Aryana Girvan was the Hager Paving Corporation Player of the Game)
Burns led Clarion with 11 kills. Ayrana Girvan added seven kills in her first match back from a badly sprained left ankle she suffered during pregame warmups against Warren last week.
“Last night was actually my first day back in practice and I still couldn’t go full-out, unfortunately.” Girvan said. “I knew that coach wanted me to play today and I worked my way back. I knew today was a game I wanted to get back to.”
Girvan said her ankle is still swollen, sore and painful, but healing. She initially sprained it when she slipped on a wet spot on the floor at Warren and bent it awkwardly.
She actually returned to play in the match at Warren because, as she said, chuckling, “I had a lot of adrenalin going.”
There was no way she was going to miss the match against Clarion-Limestone.
“This is usually a pretty big rivalry,” Girvan said. “The gym was packed. It was a good feeling.”