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West Shamokin earns section title, but Leechburg gets in playoffs, too

| Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, 12:51 a.m.

With its win Thursday, West Shamokin earned a section title. Even with its loss, Leechburg got a nice consolation prize.

The Wolves topped the Blue Devils in the Section 1-A finale for both teams Thursday, 3-0. And while West Shamokin was able to celebrate its first section title since 2009, Leechburg found out soon after the match that it also was headed to the playoffs by virtue of Springdale's 3-1 loss to Riverview.

Amanda Wensel had eight kills and a pair of aces, and the middle hitter pair of Alecia Calhoun and Carmen Riggle combined for 10 kills and six blocks for West Shamokin (11-1, 11-1). The section title is the eighth in West Shamokin's 14-year history but just the third since 2004.

“It feels really good to win a section title because it's my senior year, and half the team is seniors,” Wensel said. “Considering we hadn't done that since we've been in high school, it's great.”

Kassidi Horrell led Leechburg (6-7, 6-6) with seven kills in the match, which ended with many of the Blue Devils asking parents and coaches if they knew what had happened in Springdale's match.

Leechburg enters the postseason having shown marked improvement from the start of the season, when it dropped three of its first four section matches before recovering to finish with a .500 mark. That has the Blue Devils' coach hopeful for a good playoff showing.

“It was a rough start, but definitely toward the second half of the season we started playing more like a team,” Leechburg coach Samantha Baker said. “The girls have shown a lot more effort, and their passing has gotten a lot better. We're getting the ball up to our setter a lot better, and that's letting our hitters get set up.”

The Wolves also have high hopes for the postseason with a seven-deep senior class and some talented sophomores and freshmen behind them. But there were points during the regular season where a section title didn't seem like a sure thing.

“It was like a trip to Kennywood with this team. We're like the Thunderbolt; we go way up to the top and dip way down,” West Shamokin coach Dan Spencer said. “We haven't been a model of consistency with our play, but we've consistently won, and we know we can be very good if we play well.”

A spot in the WPIAL semifinals and advancing to the PIAA tournament becomes the next target.

“Going back to states is a big goal for me,” Wensel said. “With Kristen (Templeton) and Kelly (Clowser), we have two of the best passers I've ever seen, and then we have sophomores that are just excellent. I'm not worried about any of them (in the playoffs) because they can play just as well as the seniors.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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