Kittanning blanks West Mifflin in preliminary-round match
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Kittanning's girls volleyball team made such quick work of its opponent Tuesday night that it had time to lounge at the nearby T.G.I. Friday's afterward.
A preliminary-round winner for the fourth consecutive year, Kittanning thumped West Mifflin, 3-0, as it prevailed by scores of 25-8, 25-9 and 25-17, at Hempfield in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs. The Lady Wildcats (12-3) led the Lady Titans (10-5) for the entire first game and pulled away.
Kittanning advances to the first round, where the Lady Wildcats will travel to play No. 3 seed Mars Thursday.
“They played strong tonight, but they really shine when they play a really strong team,” Kittanning coach Kara Grafton said. “Then you can see how competitive they are.
“I hope they get the recognition they deserve (in the future), because they definitely showed they can compete with the big teams.”
Kittanning secured its first playoff win three seasons ago, when it edged South Park, 3-2. The Lady Wildcats showed gradual improvement in the seasons that followed — they beat McGuffey, 3-0, in 2010 and Washington, 3-1, in 2011.
Tuesday's performance set a new standard for playoff dominance.
Kittanning opened the match with a 7-1 run in Game 1.
It had a 13-1 run in Game 2, which ended when setter Emily Knepshield kept a ball off the floor with her foot, and the Lady Wildcats converted the save into a point.
West Mifflin managed a six-point run — the team's longest of the match — that put the Lady Titans ahead, 11-8, in Game 3. But Kittanning recovered from its momentary lapse with a kill by Terra Schall, two aces by Nicole Eckman and an unforced West Mifflin error.
“I think we've proved ourselves,” said Schall, who had 11 kills and 25 digs. “We didn't know what to expect tonight, but we knew we had to play hard and stay excited.”
Kirsten Wolfe kept up with Schall for the team lead in kills, and she also served two aces. Nellie Toy had seven kills and three aces, while Nicole Eckman registered five kills and three aces. Setter Emily Knepshield earned 31 assists and Maggie McCanna and Frankie Religa solidified the defense with 23 and 20 digs, respectively.
Kittanning's enduring confidence stood in contrast to West Mifflin's sometimes cautious play. Coach Greg Lockley believed his girls, responsible for the team's first playoff appearance, dealt with some nerves.
“(Kittanning) tended to sit back and let us make our own mistakes,” Lockley said. “At the same time, they also forced some mistakes with good defense and just keeping the ball in play.
“Still, to get to this point, I'm very proud of (West Mifflin). I have a lot of very young older players — juniors and seniors who just started playing in the past year or two.”
Kittanning can expect a significantly more experienced opponent Thursday. Mars has won its first-round match each of the past five seasons.
The Lady Wildcats will try to end a three-season streak of first-round exits.
“We think we're ready,” Schall said. “We have the talent. We just have to perform at our best.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-543-1303.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Offense awakens to lead Steelers past Panthers
- Peduto’s first budget proposal seeks to increase property tax rate
- Civil rights organization urges developer to scrap hotel plan for August Wilson Center
- Steelers notebook: Rooney says owners support Goodell
- Game changers: Turnover leads to elusive TD for Steelers
- Rossi: State of NFL gives Steelers a chance
- Mother sues Butler County Jail, Butler Memorial Hospital after son dies in custody
- Penguins forward Megna’s skill set might be perfect fit
- Pirates notebook: Bucs set single-season attendance record
- Coal gathering opens with dour assessment, political vitriol
- Inside the glass: Penguins’ Martin, Ehrhoff look comfortable together