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Philipsburg-Osceola Volleyball Falls to Trinity in PIAA Championship Match

by on November 21, 2020 5:31 PM

That one, last win eluded the Philipsburg-Osceola girls’ volleyball team.

The Lady Mounties ran into another team just as talented, and with a big hitter of their own – two, actually.

Trinity captured its first PIAA title by holding off P-O 25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 25-19 at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg on Saturday in the PIAA Class 2A championship.

“There are some long faces and some tears, but we just have to keep them looking at the big picture,” P-O coach Dave Eckberg said. “I know they’re disappointed, but it was such a great season and they have so much to be proud of.”

The Lady Mounties (20-1) were making their program’s first appearance in a PIAA final, and their first state tournament appearance since 2013.

As has been the case much of the season, P-O was led by Reese Hazelton with another huge match of 26 kills and 30 digs. The total marks the 10th match this season the 6-foot-1 freshman had reached 20 or more kills, she finished the season with 468, and in just six postseason contests she racked up 205 kills.

They also got 37 assists from Kalista Butler, 20 digs from Janey Johnson, three blocks from Jayden Perks, and four of the team’s 10 aces were delivered by London Cutler.

The Shamrocks (17-0), also in their first state final, were led by 5-foot-10 senior outside hitter Gracie Britten, who put down 17 kills to go with 12 blocks, and 6-3 junior middle blocker Lauren Trumpy, who had 19 kills and six blocks. Despite the strong stats for Britten, it was  Trumpy who was the tougher defensive matchup.

“We tried to gameplan for it, tried to simulate it in practice, but if you don’t have 6-3, 6-4, whatever she is, you can’t do much about that,” Eckberg said. “It was definitely the middle matchup that was tough for us to go against.”

After the teams had split the first two sets, the Lady Mounties found themselves in an early, deep hole in the third. They staged a comeback from 19-13 down to within 20-19, but could not close that last point.

“We just can’t give a good team like that, that kind of cushion,” Eckberg said. “We played point-for-point and just ran out of time.”

Then, P-O did jump to an early lead in the fourth, up 9-3, but the Shamrocks methodically chipped away to grab the lead at 14-13, and the Lady Mounties saw their hopes fade.

“Our focus going into Game 4 was to get that lead back early, and we did,” Eckberg said. “But the game just kept getting closer as we got close to 20 … and we couldn’t find a way to seal it up.”

The match also featured a pair of teams with strength defensively and at the service line. P-O finished with 10 aces, while the Shamrocks had nine, led by three each from Kendall Myers and Ryanne Whiteman.

“That was probably the best serving team we’ve seen all year as far as being super aggressive,” Eckberg said. “We just weren’t able to get the ball forward like we need to for our setter to have a couple different options.”

Despite the disappointment of falling in the state championship, the Lady Mounties can feel pretty good about the season and their future. There was a time in August when many fans wondered if there might even be a high school season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the safety issues it brought, so Eckberg viewed each week his team played matches as a victory. Also, the roster has just one senior – middle blocker CeCe Hite – and they figure to be among the contenders to return to the final in 2021.

“Our job as coaches is help them realize what they’ve been able to accomplish, especially with all the uncertainties we’ve had,” Eckberg said. “I think that will settle in as we go, and knowing, aside from one senior, they all get to have a go at this again next year, I think that will hopefully be a little motivation for them. Not that they really need it because they found so hard this year.”

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