West Shamokin's girls volleyball team uses defense to advance
To advance to the WPIAL quarterfinals, West Shamokin's volleyball team got defensive.
The sixth-seeded Wolves controlled play at the net despite a height disadvantage to earn a win over No. 11 Avonworth, 3-0, in the first round of the WPIAL Class A tournament Wednesday at Shaler.
Senior Amanda Wensel and freshman Katie Glover had seven kills each to pace the Wolves (12-1), who advance to a Tuesday quarterfinal against the winner of Thursday's match between No. 3 Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and No. 14 Leechburg. The Wolves won 25-18, 25-14, 25-16.
Avonworth (13-8) was led by senior Olivia London, who finished with a match-high nine kills and served three aces.
“It feels great, and I didn't really expect us to do as well as we did,” Wolves sophomore setter Sierra Dailey said.
“Our blocking was great today, probably better than it has been all season, and I think we really took care of what we needed to do.”
At first glance, the Antelopes appeared to hold an edge on the front row with a 6-foot-1 middle hitter in Kaitlyn Pendrak and a pair of 5-11 middle/outside hitters.
But West Shamokin repeatedly made plays at the net even though it only played one player taller than 5-9, sophomore middle hitter Carmen Riggle, who stands 5-10.
“In baseball, they talk about pitching and defense winning games, so for us, it's serving and blocking,” West Shamokin coach Dan Spencer said.
“What a great night of blocking by all of our kids, and (Avonworth) was big. It's nice just to break even when they're that big, but to control it, I thought was just super.”
A pair of big blocks by senior Alecia Calhoun set the tone for West Shamokin, which took the lead for good in the first set at 12-11.
The Wolves slowly extended the lead and wrapped up the set on another block by Calhoun on a hit by Pendrak.
West Shamokin dominated the second set from the service line with some unexpected efficiency from Dailey.
Though she has struggled on serves at times, Dailey strung together 11 straight service points, including four aces, to send her team out to a 13-1 lead in the set.
“Normally, it doesn't really click as well as it did for me today on serves, but today, I was able to keep putting them over and keeping them in play,” Dailey said.
“Early in the season, we'd take her off the floor and serve for her because she couldn't serve a ball worth looking at,” Spencer said. “For her to serve that many in a row in a playoff game — and they were all really nice, moving serves — she will never forget that. I know I won't forget it.”
The commanding second-set lead stood up, and the Wolves never trailed in the third set.
Early kills by Wensel, Glover and Alyssa Peters got West Shamokin out to an 11-6 lead, and the Antelopes never pulled within five again.