MECHANICSBURG – The Northern Cambria girls volleyball team captured its fourth PIAA championship on Saturday at Cumberland Valley High School.
The defending state champion Colts defeated Nativity BVM in straight sets 25-14, 25-18, 31-29, to earn the back-to-back titles and join the other two squads from the school who had been crowned champions.
“Every team is different, and everything you do every year is different,” said Northern Cambria coach Mike Hogan, who has been at the helm for all four titles. “We had the group with Ashley (Hogan) and the one with Breanna Kochinsky, Janae Dunchak and Ariel Rocco. This group here has been the most fluent and quick moving team that I’ve had. And they are goal driven. They’ve been focused for two whole years in a row on winning a state title.
“The other teams, it was just like their last year and they won but this group has been working together for two years to win this.”
Junior Maggie Hogan, the coach’s daughter, helped anchor a strong, well-rounded Colts squad.
“It makes me super excited that I have one more championship than my sister, Ashley,” Maggie Hogan said. “Back-to-back, that’s hard to do. Our warm-up shirts actually say the only thing harder than winning one is winning two.
“I love having my dad as my coach. Most people think that we would fight a lot, but we are actually really close.”
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One of the adages that Coach Hogan preaches to his girls is that little things make big differences.
“We got a lot of contributions from everyone today,” Coach Hogan said. “Maggie and Camryn Dumm always serve tough and today Autumn (Donatelli) served well and Zoey Novella came in and gave Brooke Lieb a break and had some really nice serves. Zoey has been a real team player. Everyone has played the role that we have asked of them and that has helped to lead to our success.”
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Northern Cambria has five seniors on the roster, and this is two state titles for the group.
“They have gone from playing different positions to individually developing their game to knowing that they have to be able to jump very high because we are not a very big team so we work hard on our physical training, getting off the ground and they respond to that,” Coach Hogan said. “The things that people don’t realize is that little things that they give up to be good at this. It makes them special.
“They are super good kids, they listen and I think they are going to be very successful in life because of the experiences they’ve been able to gain from PIAA athletics. Training and working together with people, having ups and downs are positive things to take forward in life.”
“We are very close and we are all family now,” senior middle hitter Jenna Lutch said. “We have been working together since fifth grade and are all together every day. It is exciting to end our careers like this.”