ShareThis Page

Kittanning falls to Indiana in tight match

| Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012, 11:24 p.m.
Kittanning's Emily Klingensmith (middle) tips a ball over the blocks of Natalie Cignetti and Kaitlyn Palmer during a 3-2 home loss to Indiana Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. Bill West | Leader Times
Kittanning's Nellie Toy (right) tries to hit a ball around Kaitlyn Palmer during a 3-2 home loss to Indiana Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. Bill West | Leader Times

A home match Thursday night provided evidence that Kittanning's girls volleyball team sits right at the edge of the WPIAL Class AA elite.

The Wildcats (7-3, 5-2) narrowly fell to perennial power and Section 3-AA frontrunner Indiana, 3-2, after leading through three games.

The loss likely erased any chance of Kittanning claiming or sharing its first section title. But to come so close to a victory over Indiana (8-2, 7-0), which has won five section titles in a row, left Kittanning with much to celebrate.

“We've been preparing for this match pretty much all season,” said Kittanning coach Kara Grafton, whose Wildcats lost, 3-0, to Indiana earlier this fall. “Taking them five games is a tremendous accomplishment for my girls.”

Haley Stapleton, Kaitlyn Palmer and Natalie Cignetti proved too effective for Indiana in the final game, as they combined for eight points during the 15-12 win.

Kittanning showed serious mettle in the match as it survived game points in the second and third sets and ultimately claimed those two, 26-24 and 28-26.

In Game 2, the Wildcats trailed, 24-22, when an Indiana unforced error and two aces by Nellie Toy turned the deficit into a one-point advantage. Then, Kirsten Wolfe won it with a kill that dribbled over the left side of the net.

An unforced Indiana error and Nicole Eckman's ace allowed Kittanning to go ahead, 26-25, during the tail end of Game 3. The Indians tied the score, but a tip by Toy and an Indiana net violation followed.

Aces appeared throughout the match for Kittanning, which served so well that Indiana coach Malinda Oesterling said her girls struggled at times to string together offense-friendly passes.

“I thought they served so aggressively, and that made an enormous difference,” Oesterling said. “I think when you can throw a team's passing rhythm off like that, you have a great chance to win.”

Eckman finished with a team-high four aces. Emily Knepshield and Toy each served three, while Terra Schall and Wolfe each had one.

Indiana showed its own strength at the service line, particularly during Game 1 and 4, 25-17 and 25-12 wins for the Indians. Stapleton finished with seven unreturned serves, while Rebecca Alman and Palmer each had five, and Casey Shoenfelt served two.

The height of Stapleton (5-foot-9), Palmer (5-8), Shoenfelt (5-8) and Cignetti (5-8) created match-up trouble for Kittanning. But when Indiana needed just one or two more points to win games, the Wildcats' defense often delivered as Eckman and Emily Klingensmith slowed kill attempts with partial blocks, and Kittanning's back-row made plays.

“We usually just find a shoulder and we try to see which way they're angled,” said Klingensmith, who had one block and five kills.

Libero Frankie Religa finished with 45 digs, while Schall had 40, and Maggie McCanna and Wolfe 27 had each.

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.