NEW HOLLAND — It looked as though the Lansdale Catholic volleyball team and senior Brynne Taylor caught fire just in time to tie up the PIAA Class AA semifinal match with Delone Catholic at 1-1 each.
But three late errors and back-to-back aces to close out Game 2 helped the Squirettes on Tuesday return to the PIAA finals with a 3-0 (25-18, 26-24, 25-18) sweep of the Crusaders.Taylor, a senior middle hitter, had two of her loudest kills of the night at Garden Spot High late in the second game. The Crusaders had already dropped the first game 25-18 and were desperate to square things up with the District 3 champs. Taylor finished with 11 kills, despite being monitored heavily.
"When we are most consistent we get the ball to our middles and we could not do that tonight,' Crusaders coach Joann Pisch said. "They are one of the few teams that could take Taylor out of the game.'
Junior setter Kailtyn Kushman caught net on a serve, but a favorable roll on to the opponent's side had the District 12 champs up 23-21 and smiling from ear to ear. Back-to-back unforced errors brought the game even again, but the Crusaders never stopped smiling.
"We were doing the best we could to keep the energy up,' senior opposite Alicia Kradzinski said. "We knew that we did not come out as strong as we hoped we would, but the momentum kept shifting back to Delone.'
A Kradzinski kill pushed the game to a 24-23 score, but then the Squirettes did what they have done all season. The covered the middle well and served consecutive serves with nearly nonreturnable top spin. The 26-24 win in Game 2 led to the eventual end of the Crusaders' season.
"They served us aggressively and I cannot say enough about how impressed I am with what I saw across the net,' Pisch said. "Those girls came out on fire.
The top spin on the Squirettes' serve caused fits all night. It helped them reel off nine straight points in Game 1 and erase a six-point deficit in Game 3. The Crusaders struggled to dig out the drop shots and it forced Kushman to set out of system, though she still finished with 28 assists.
"They dug up our balls and served with top spin,' Kushman said. "They got us out of system and played an unbelievable game. We will be ready for next year.'
The Squirettes serving was nothing the Crusaders had not witnessed in the scouting of their semifinal opponent, but the second-place squad in the state from a season ago wanted another shot at the title and played a near flawless game against the Crusaders. The Squirettes will get their rematch with Fort LeBoeuf, who swept their semifinal opponent. All the girls in green and gold can do is tip their cap and be proud going further than any team in school history had gone before."The report we had was the middle of the court was not very covered,' Pisch said. "But tonight they covered that. I really thought we would be there Saturday. What a great ride and I could not be more proud of what we accomplished this year.'