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Ligonier Valley volleyball shares conference title

| Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Bill Pribisco | for the Ligonier Echo
Ligonier Valley’s Rebecca Kromel taps the ball back to the Northern Cambria side during a match Oct. 22, 2013, at Ligonier Valley High School
Bill Pribisco | for the Ligonier Echo
Ligonier Valley High School senior Taylor Rudnik sets the ball for her teammates to send back over the net during a match Sept. 16, 2013, at Ligonier Valley High School

The Ligonier Valley girls volleyball team was able to raise its first banner in the rafters after finishing the season as co-champions of the District 6 Heritage Conference.

It was a packed gym Oct. 22 for a must win game and the Rams were able to avenge an earlier season loss to Northern Cambria by winning in five sets, 26-24, 19-25, 10-25, 25-18, 15-13, to claim co-champion honors.

“I really want to thank the student body and parents for the support of the girls. It made such a difference in the conference game,” coach Amy McLaughlin said. “The gym had so much energy and it meant so much to the girls. They played at a high level, and it was an awesome experience for them.”

Ligonier Valley (13-5), which was led by six seniors, was paced by senior middle hitter Amanda Ross, who had 121 kills to lead the team into the first round of the District 6 playoffs, while recording 62 solo blocks.

Senior libero Rachel Wallace led the team with 187 digs and 172 service points.

The Rams weren't just led by the seniors. A pair of junior outside hitters — Rebecca Kromel and Madison McLaughlin — made huge contributions. Sophomore middle hitter Shelbi Shearer also had a strong season.

“We really had nice contributions from the juniors and sophomores on the team and even the seniors who may not have started,” Coach McLaughlin said. “It was a whole team effort.”

Ligonier Valley's season came to an end when the Tigers lost in five sets, 9-25, 25-23, 25-21, 14-25, 11-15, to Huntingdon in the first round of the District 6 playoffs. The Rams defeated Huntingdon in the first round last season.

“I told them whatever happened in playoffs that they went out on a good note. They were able to accomplish something they set out for and co-shared a conference title,” Coach McLaughlin said. “The team did an amazing job and came together. The upperclassmen were mentors to the younger girls, and the team meshed the whole year.”

Their successful run included a win over Penns Manor, the defending Heritage Conference champion, in straight sets in late September. The victory was crucial because last season the Rams loss to Penns Manor twice and placed second in the Heritage Conference.

Even with the loss of eight seniors, Amy McLaughlin, who has been the Ligonier Valley coach for the past four years, believes there will be no slip up when the next season tips off next year.

“We have a chance to get as far and further. I think next year we will just be as strong as this year,” Amy McLaughlin said. “These juniors have worked together for the last two years. We have a really strong core that will lead the team next year.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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