Mt. Lebanon wins WPIAL girls volleyball title
Fox Chapel senior Sarah Bradley sobbed every once in a while as she stood shoulder to shoulder with her teammates Saturday in Chartiers Valley High School's gymnasium. A silver medal dangled from her neck.
A 3-1 loss to Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL Class AAA girls volleyball finals saddened her.
But Bradley is certain she'll look back on the experience soon enough and smile.
Bradley and the No. 3 Lady Foxes (17-3) advanced further in the postseason than any of their predecessors. They had a chance to take gold as they won the first game of the championship match against No. 4 Mt. Lebanon. But the Lady Blue Devils claimed the next three games (25-13, 25-22, 25-20) on their way to a sixth championship.
“We knew coming in this would be our toughest match of the year because they're a lot like us,” coach Sara D'Angelo said.
“They're scrappy. They're defensive. I don't think we were prepared for the back and forth. We like to keep the momentum and go on runs.”
Fox Chapel seemed to peak at the end of Game 1, a 25-21 win, as it won the final five points. D'Angelo described the Lady Foxes as out-of-character during the victory, though. She desired more scrambling and more energy.
“It was good that we won, but when we came into the huddle, I thought we still were not playing how we normally play,” D'Angelo said. “I said, ‘Well, you got that win. Now you need to go out and find Fox Chapel volleyball. You're not playing like you right now.' And I don't believe we found it for the rest of the game.”
Mt. Lebanon immediately shifted the momentum with an 8-2 run to open Game 2.
Neither team thrived for a long stretch in Game 3, which included 17 tie scores. Caroline Grattan scored three of the Lady Blue Devils' final four points to help pull out the win.
“I thought we'd really pull through at the end,” Bradley said. “It was really intense. I think that's why we kind of fell off at the end, because it was so intense. We're a really relaxed team, and when we get really tense, we get kind of freaked out.”
Mt. Lebanon charged out to a 5-1 lead in the final game, but Fox Chapel found a way to rally and hang close. The Lady Foxes never tied the score, however, and Alexa Pavlick's two kills clinched the match for the Lady Blue Devils.
Grattan finished with 21 kills. Pavlick added eight, four of which came in the fourth game.
“Our kids, they don't get real caught up in the big momentum swings that a big kill can have,” Mt. Lebanon coach Jeff Schilling said. “Our kids just stay the course. They know they have more games to go, and they're not under the gun. When you can find that relaxed level, it really helps you out.”
Bradley finished with a team-high 12 kills. Megan Hollingsworth and Riley Herrmann each had 10 kills.
“Even though we didn't win, it's just been an incredible experience,” Bradley said.
Fox Chapel advances to the PIAA tournament.
The Lady Foxes will play the District 6 champion at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Central Cambria High School in Ebensburg.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-543-1303.