CHELTENHAM >> The second set was on the verge of getting away from Cardinal O’Hara. York Suburban ran off the first seven points and extended its lead to eight after O’Hara was called for a double hit.
The Lions needed to regroup, fast.
As they do after every point, the team gathered in a circle, only this brief meeting was a little different than the usual post-point get together. Instead of discussing strategy or taking a deep breath, ever player on the court uttered the same phrase.
“We all said, ‘It’s time to come on,’ at the same time,” senior Erin Daly said. “We knew what we had to do.”
The Lions rallied to take the second set and went on to a 3-0 victory over the Trojans at Bishop McDevitt High School in the opening round of the PIAA Class 3A volleyball playoffs Tuesday afternoon.
It was the second time in as many years the Lions (22-3) knocked off a team ranked in the top 10 in the state to earn a spot in the state quarterfinals. The Trojans (16-7) are ranked seventh in Class 3A by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association.
“The girls showed how huge their hearts are in that second set,” O’Hara coach Bill Collins said. “They wanted it. It was that simple.”
After taking the first set, 25-14, the District 12 champion Lions rallied for a 27-25 victory in that second set and then scored the last two points to pull out a 25-23 victory in the third set to advance to the quarterfinals Saturday against District 11 champ Allentown Central Catholic, a 3-2 winner over Pope John Paul II. The site and time of that game will be determined Wednesday.
“We’ve been in situations like that before,” said setter Meaghan MacWilliams, who finished with 33 assists. “We knew we had to dig deep and fight back.”
Kiki Daly (nine kills, eight digs) put home a perfect pass from MacWilliams to get the comeback started. Maeve Boylan (eight digs, two aces) then was on the service line for four straight points to cut the deficit to 10-7.
“That was the turning point,” Collins said of Boylan’s work on the service line. “That got us back in it and we kept chipping away.”
O’Hara took its first lead in the second set on a kill by Erin Daly (nine kills, 10 digs, two blocks) and won it on a kill by Charlee Borcky (12 kills). The third set was a nail-bitter, too, with 16 ties and 12 lead changes before a hitting error by the Trojans sealed the deal for O’Hara.
“Our experience really helped us,” Erin Daly said. “We knew we had to dig deep and focus. We had to pass, set and hit, and that’s what we did.”