No. 12 Hempfield upsets Baldwin in WPIAL volleyball quarterfinals
Hempfield has gotten healthy at the right time.
The Spartans, who have played through an injury-riddled girls volleyball season, were running on all cylinders in the WPIAL Class AAAA quarterfinals Tuesday night at Norwin High School and finished up with a 3-1 victory over Baldwin to move to the semifinals against North Allegheny on Thursday.
“We wanted to come out and put together two good matches. We haven't been able to do that all year,” Hempfield coach Kathy Kuhns said.
Hempfield (9-4), the 12th seed, dominated fourth-seeded Baldwin for much of the night to post an impressive victory over the Highlanders (13-3) by scores of 25-20, 16-25, 25-14, 25-17.
“We never felt like a 12th seed,” said Kuhns, whose team beat fifth-seeded Pine-Richland in the first round. “We're just getting it together now.”
Kierstin Schade recorded 15 kills and Mekayla Dedo added nine, and Olivia Persin notched eight aces to lead Hempfield.
“Those two middles (Schade and Dedo) had their way with us,” Baldwin coach Chris Kelly said. “They just outplayed us overall. That first game wasn't something we expected them to do, and it really set the tone for the evening.”
Hempfield took the first game, 25-20, before Baldwin rebounded for a 25-16 victory in the second game to tie the match.
The Highlanders appeared to have seized momentum, but Hempfield came out strong in the third game and took control early, building a big lead and coasting to a 25-14 victory.
The Spartans kept the pressure on to start the fourth game, jumping to a 9-4 lead and forcing Baldwin into a timeout.
The Highlanders returned to the court and ran off six consecutive points to take a 10-9 lead in a back-and-forth game.
Hempfield regrouped and went back in front 13-11 and never again trailed en to a 25-17 victory and a 3-1 advantage in games.
Dave Mackall is a freelance writer.