CHELTENHAM >> It was a night where both Archbishop Wood and Garden Spot had their share of highlight kills and saving digs, but in the end, it was the Spartans who came away winners against the Vikings in 3-0 in straight sets Tuesday in the PIAA Class 3A playoffs Tuesday at Bishop McDevitt High School.
Garden Spot won the sets 25-17, 25-18 and 25-18.
“We played pretty solid,” GS coach Dennis Werner said. “It wasn’t perfect, but we did a lot of things right. Our thought our passes were really good tonight. When you are in a state playoff match, you have to pass well in order to be successful.”
Some of the big performers were Sam Martin with 27 kills and Sarah Shirk with 39 serve attempts.
Shirk was the point guard for the Spartans as she set up multiple teammates.
Martin, Shawna Zeiset and Meg Gehr were the main beneficiaries with Zeiset and Gehr having 14 and 12 kills, respectively.
“A lot of it comes from my teammates,” Shirk said. “I have a really good connection with them. I know if they are hot or not. The passing game really helps too. If I am getting great passes then I can feed the best hitters.”
Cara Coughlin led the Vikings with 26 assists and Shauna Matthews and Molly Prior had seven kills to lead the team.
Archbishop Wood started the first set by owning a slim lead.
Every time the Vikings seemed to pull ahead, the Spartans came right back.
Archbishop Wood paid for letting Garden Spot stick around when the Spartans rattled off five straight points to lead 19-14, and eventually win the first set 25-17.
The second set began with Garden Spot in a 0-2 hole but soon claimed a 12-8 lead.
It was now the Vikings turn to come back as they got within 15-14.
A pivotal came after Archbishop Wood closed to 19-17.
The Vikings pushed the ball hard at the net, but it was rejected by the Spartans Olivia Usner.
Garden Spot followed the block to close out the game on a 6-1 run to finish the second set 25-18.
“Our offense can be very varied, but the strength of our team is our defense,” Werner said. “We don’t want the ball to land on our end.”
Momentum was now clearly in the Spartans hands as they soared out to a 10-3 lead in the third set.
That lead ballooned to 18-9 when Matthews prepared to serve.
Matthew’s contributions allowed Archbishop Wood to rally within 19-15.
She and Prior finished the day with 11 serves won.
“None of us really wanted it to end today, but it is what it is,” Prior said. “We all knew that it was going to be all or nothing so we all fought to the very end.”
Werner had put his reserves in but quickly tossed his starters back into the mix.
The Vikings kept fighting, but per usual on this night, the Spartans buckled down and finished the final set 25-18.
“They were very motivated to win this one,” Archbishop Wood coach Maureen Thorpe said. “This is their first time in the state tournament in a couple years. We know that Garden Spot has a lot of experience in the past five years as far as quarterfinals and semifinals. They have a lot of experienced players and they played a great game.”
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