SOMERSET – After enduring a five-set match to defeat Conemaugh Township in the District 5-A title game last week, Berlin Brothersvalley made short work of Geibel Catholic on Tuesday night in first-round action of the PIAA Volleyball Championships, sweeping the Gators 3-0.
While it wasn’t a perfectly-played match for Berlin Brothersvalley, the Mountaineers soared past the District 7-3 finisher, which had just nine players on its roster, 25-17, 25-17, 25-11. The District 5 champs advance to the quarterfinals and will face District 4 champ Canton, a 3-1 winner over Calvary Christian, on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
“Obviously, I’m pleased with how we performed tonight,” Mountaineers coach Corey Will said. “We had a real good idea of where they were going to go with the ball, and I thought the girls did a really good job of playing the defense we talked about playing at practice. At times, we made some strange mental mistakes that stopped our momentum, mistakes that we are going to have to cut out if we want to advance through this tournament.
“We served well tonight. We came in with a thought process of where we wanted to serve and the girls really did a nice job of hitting those spots. I sent Ashley Vangilder in as a starter, a role-player server, and she was perfect, getting all of her serves in and hit the spots I wanted.”
Senior Kiera Booth, who is Villanova-bound next year, helped lead the way with 16 kills, nine aces and four block kills, but Will got plenty of contributions from all of his players. Grace Dorcon added 10 kills and 15 digs, Lexi Yanosky had 13 assists and Carlyn Hay had 12 assists.
“Overall, I thought we played very well,” Booth said. “We executed our game plan and although we had a few communication errors, I feel if we just talk more, we can smooth things out.”
The Mountaineers (20-2) never trailed in the first set, tearing out to a 4-0 lead on strong serving by Hay.
In the second set, Berlin trailed just once 3-2, on an unforced error, but a Gators serve into the net tied the game at 3 and two straight Booth aces put the Mountaineers ahead for good.
In Set 3, Geibel, which last played in the state playoffs in 2008, led 1-0 on a Berlin unforced error. A Booth kill evened the set and another strong serving performance by Hay put the Mountaineers up 7-1. The Gators (16-3) got to within four twice in the third set.
At 17-11, Booth served out the match including five aces along with kills by Dorcon and Yanosky.
“We were undersized and undermanned,” Geibel coach Rick Watkins said. “You can’t simulate Kiera Booth pounding balls from the service line. We could have played better tonight. No one else has beaten us the way that Berlin did tonight. It was a combination of them playing really well and our unforced errors. When you are giving away 12 points just on serving into the net or out of bounds, that doesn’t help. You can’t give a good team 12 points.”