Laughman leads Delone Catholic to playoff win
PHILADELPHIA >> Delone Catholic spent more time riding the bus to its PIAA Class AA first-round state playoff game than it did playing in the game.
The Squirettes swept District 12 champion Archbishop Wood 25-16, 25-15, 25-20 on Tuesday at High School of the Future in Philadelphia, only needing about an hour to advance to Saturday's quarterfinals.
Just as she has all season -- and really for the last three seasons -- Katie Laughman found herself right in the middle of Delone Catholic's victory.
The senior setter, who produced 39 assists in the three-set match, has been the cog at the center of the Squirettes' machine all season. And the fuel that's kept that cog turning for three years is raspberry lemonade Gatorade, a light-pink drink she guzzles at every timeout since she rarely gets the chance to come out of a game. She's the only player on the Squirettes' deep roster that plays every play of every match.
"It's always nice to have that consistent piece, just from a consistency standpoint for the hitters," Delone Catholic coach Jason Leppo said of Laughman. "It's just so hard to take a kid like Katie out because she does every skill well."
Laughman has been superstitiously drinking her raspberry lemonade Gatorade -- which her parents know exactly where to find at Weis Markets -- before, during and after every game since she joined the varsity team her sophomore year.
"We won the state championship that year, so ever since then I drank that Gatorade," Laughman said. "Our house is stocked with them."
In Tuesday's game, Laughman helped Delone Catholic take a step toward another state championship by capitalizing on a matchup advantage at the middle-hitter position, as she set up Amber Johnson and Sydney Dockins for nine kills apiece in the victory. Laughman also delivered two aces, and her serves helped her team go on a 6-0 run early in the first game that helped set the tone for the match.
"She's been doing that ever since her sophomore year," Leppo said. "She just has a great serve. She's been playing softball her whole life, so she has that natural whip of an arm and it just kind of shoots like a cannon, especially when she gets going."
Delone Catholic, now three wins away from a state title, will face the winner of a match between District 1 champion Villa Maria Academy in Saturday's quarterfinals at Hempfield High School.
"Every game we're gonna have to come out and play our hardest, we can't let down and come out having a bad game," Laughman said. "Every team from now on is gonna be really good, so we have to come out and play our best game to get to where we want to go."
Delone Catholic def. Archbishop Wood 25-16, 25-15, 25-20 at High School of the Future, Philadelphia
Delone Catholic stats — Katie Laughman (1 kills, 39 assists, 2 aces, 11 digs), Amber Johnson (9 kills, 1 dig), Christian Photiades (1 ace), Sarah Senft (9 kills 7 digs), Lexi Shanabrook (17 digs), Lilly Singleton (7 kills, 6 digs), Emily Welsh (1 ace, 4 digs), Sydney Dockins (9 kills), Karigen Emig (6 kills, 1 assist, 1 ace, 8 digs), Kayla Ewart (2 digs).
Archbishop Wood stats — No stats provided.