ALTOONA – As difficult as it is to imagine for a reigning state champion, the Northern Cambria High School girls’ volleyball team feels it still has some unfinished business.
The Colts collected a year-old debt on Saturday in the District 6 Class A championship match.
“We really wanted this,” senior Brooke Lieb said. “We wanted to drive for it. We wanted to accomplish it, since we didn’t get it last year. It was really a revenge type of game.”
Lieb’s kills ended the second and third games, as Northern Cambria avenged last year’s District 6 finals setback to Bishop Carroll by dethroning the Huskies, 3-0, at the Altoona Area High School Field House.
The game scores were 25-21, 25-17, 25-17.
It was the Colts 19th win in 20 starts this season. They’ll begin PIAA tournament play on Tuesday night at Forest Hills against the WPIAL runner-up.
“It’s been a good year. The kids have accepted the challenges I’ve put before them to be a special group,” Colts coach Mike Hogan said.
Junior outside hitter Maggie Hogan led the way for Northern Cambria with 17 kills and eight service points. She hardly did it alone, though. Emma Kollar chipped in with eight kills, and Autumn Donatelli had six. Jenna Lutch’s four blocks equaled her kill total. Lieb recorded five service points to go with four kills.
The Colts took the initiative and piled up 42 team kills, 19 more than Bishop Carroll. Junior setter Camryn Dumm, turning in a stellar passing performance, assisted on almost all of them, and she served up seven points, to boot.
“Setters are like commanders. They are court leaders, and she definitely is that,” Maggie Hogan said of Dumm.
Mara Wyland’s 12 kills, seven service points and a block powered Bishop Carroll, while Eleanor Long notched eight kills and Madita Dieseler came up with 12 digs.
“We didn’t play up to our potential. We know that they’re a good team, but we need to come and bring our own good team, too,” Wyland said.
This was the third straight year the Huskies have played the Colts for the district title, the teams splitting the two previous meetings.
After winning last year’s 6-A final, the Huskies fell to Northern Cambria in a rematch in the state semis.
This is a much different Huskies team, only returning six players from 2018. Bishop Carroll (16-5) will travel west on Tuesday to play the WPIAL champion in the PIAA tournament.
“They got us out of our rhythm, so credit toward them, but we couldn’t pass the ball, we couldn’t service, we couldn’t do anything,” Huskies coach Katie Wyland said.
Saturday’s result was a repeat of a regular-season match on Oct. 14, when Northern Cambria swept Bishop Carroll. The Colts have performed like a well-oiled machine this season, only losing five games all year, and all to West Shamokin, which it swept in a Heritage Conference championship rubber match.
“We’re really excited to get back to where we were last year. We go into practice excited. We work hard every day,” Dumm said.
“We play really well as a team.”
Maggie Hogan was a beast right from the start. She piled up 13 kills in the first game, usually showing her power off Dumm’s pinpoint sets, but finishing the stanza with a dink.
Northern Cambria bolted out to a 7-2 lead in the second game and increased the margin to 20-11 on Hogan’s five consecutive service points. The Colts found success spreading it around this time – six different players registered kills, with Brooke Lieb’s spike off the Bishop Carroll back row putting Northern Cambria a game from the match.
The Huskies scored the first two points of the third game, but Northern Cambria kept pounding away to go up 13-9 and force a Bishop Carroll timeout. However, Jessica Krug, Maggie Hogan and Dumm each served for two points to bring it to match point, when Lieb spiked it off the back row and Bishop Carroll couldn’t retrieve it.
As dominant as they appear, senior Jenna Lutch said the Colts don’t feel untouchable.
“But,” Lutch said, “we want to be.”