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Philipsburg-Osceola swept by Indiana
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
By Jaclyn Yingling Sports Editor
EBENSBURG - There were plenty of tears on Tuesday night when the Philipsburg-Osceola volleyball team was knocked out of the first round of the PIAA playoffs by Indiana at Central Cambria High School.
The Lady Mounties were swept in their first trip to the state tournament since 2009 by scores of 25-18, 25-19 and 25-17.
But while P-O was sad about getting knocked out, the tears were the realization that the nine girls who stuck together through thick and thin for three years, had played in their last game together.
"What you see from the tears is girls who know they won't be able to play together again," said P-O head coach Dave Eckberg. "I don't know if it's so much about the defeat as it is about it being a sense of closure for the girls.
"Once they reflect on everything they have accomplished, I really think they are going to look back on this as such a great experience."
That experience included winning a District 6 Class AA title and finishing the season at 30-6. The five seniors finished their careers with a record of 106-33.
The Lady Mounties also played a solid game against a 19-1 Indiana squad that finished as the WPIAL runner-up this past weekend.
The Lady Indians made their presence known early, short-setting their tallest hitters for kills in the first set.
Indiana had a definite height advantage on the night, but the Lady Mounties still hung with the Lady Indians the entire match.
Philipsburg-Osceola was just unable to make key plays when it needed it to extend runs. The Lady Mounties had seven service errors on the night and several hitting errors.
Still P-O and Eckberg were prepared, as they had seen the Lady Indians at a preseason team camp.
"They did some things we don't see to much of in our league," said Eckberg. "Most of what we were able to do to prepare for that happened at the start of the season at Indiana's team camp."
"Our goal was to go out and be a better team than when we saw them in August. And clearly that was the case tonight. I think we got a little tense at moments and made some mistakes we haven't made in a while.
"But I don't want anything to take away from what the girls have accomplished, because they have done so much. I'm so proud of them."
The Lady Mounties never backed down from the challenge, even after going down 2-0 in the match.
P-O dug out several balls and put down several hard hits in the third set, but Indiana's front row proved to be too much.
Indiana was led by senior captain Aaryn Gray, who had seven kills, while Jill Bender added five kills. Senior captain Natalie Cignetti tallied four kills.
The final set was a show of the determination the Lady Mounties have shown all year.
P-O actually took the lead three different times against the Lady Indians, but struggled to stay out in front.
Indiana mixed it shots to each of its hitters and took advantage of pulling the Lady Mounties out of their system.
P-O fought until the end, as the Lady Indians scored the game point on a ball that was hit solidly by Abby Showers after she tracked it down at the back of the court.
Eckberg said he was impressed with the composure and the hustle his team showed until the final point.
"It's has been such a great season," said Eckberg. "Only one team in the state is going to walk away happy. What I was so proud of tonight was there were times they got down, but they didn't give up.
"If we would've said at the beginning of the season that we were going to play in the state tournament against a great opponent and play point-for-point all night, mixed in with a district championship, I think we would've been all in."
Marlee Chutko led the Lady Mounties with eight kills, while Kylie Scovern and Showers each had six. Emily Bush-Clark added three.
Bush-Clark had a team-high eight service points, while Showers had six service points. McKenzie Burge had five service points and notched 21 assists in the game.
"One loss does not define this team," said Eckberg. What defines us is a sense of family, teamwork, hustle and focus. It was everything they needed to do to overcome the obstacles that they faced. One game doesn't make the season. It's just a part of it."
Indiana (20-1) will face Conneaut Area, which swept Knoch, on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
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