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Hurricanes go down swinging in PIAA 3A state quarterfinal

Upper Dublin >> A few minutes after Villa Maria Academy lost 3-0 to Southern Lehigh in the PIAA Class 3A girls volleyball state quarterfinal Saturday afternoon at Upper Dublin High School, VMA head coach Peggy Evans spoke of a Hurricane strength that transcended winning.
“They’ve overcome so much [this season] – supporting me,” said Evans. “My husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and they have been such a source of strength for me all season – taking over, doing fundraisers, just really stepping up. I couldn’t ask for a better group of young women – young warriors, I call them. The seniors, not just the captains [Katie Scaggs and Alivia Orvieto] but Amelia Collins and Olivia Karkenny, Olivia Bertoline and Caroline – five senior players and a senior [team] manager – I couldn’t have done it without them and my assistant coaches, Burgess and Joe – this was all them, a great group.”
Villa Maria (19-4), the District 1 runner-up, came out strong in the first set against District 11 champion Southern Lehigh (18-1), winning seven consecutive points and building a 13-8 lead. The Spartans fought back, tieing the score at 18-18. The lead then changed hands several times before a well-placed shot by Collins tied the score at 23-23. Southern Lehigh won the final two points to take Game 1, 25-23.
“Southern Lehigh had to bring their ‘A’ game to beat us today,” said Evans. “Our players hung in there, they were scrappy and picking up balls all over the place.”
Leading the way for the Hurricanes Saturday were their two senior co-captains, middle hitter Katie Scaggs and setter Alivia Orvieto, who was a Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association (PVCA) all-state selection at libero last fall. Scaggs and Orvieto picked up the mantle of leadership for the Hurricanes this fall after Villa Maria lost three PVCA all-state selections to graduation last spring.
The Hurricames came into the quarterfinals Saturday off a 3-0 sweep of District 12 champion Cardinal O’Hara Nov. 5 in the first round of States. Saturday, after losing the first set by only two points, the Hurricanes hung tough in Game 2, led by Scaggs and Orvieto, and trailed by only three at 11-8 before an 8-1 run by the Spartans paved the way for a 25-16 Southern Lehigh win. In Game 3, the Hurricanes had their backs to the wall, and were trailing 23-13 before making a last-gasp three-point run in a 25-16 loss that ended Villa Maria’s season.
Scaggs, who will play volleyball for Elizabethtown College next fall, “The last couple of points, Liv [Orvieto] and I kept saying to each other, ‘Just have fun in this moment, and give all you can, because these are the last moments we’ll have with this team.’”
Orvieto said, “The first set, we were feeling comfortable, playing great; and then, after we lost the first set, those feeling of nerves and the feeling of, ‘Wow this could be our last games together,’ kind of frazzled us a little bit in the second set. Going into the third set, for us it was like, ‘There’s nothing to lose, let’s play our hearts out, just give it our best.’ There’s nothing else we could have done. I think we really played hard today.”
Orvieto, who will play beach volleyball for Florida Atlantic University next fall, joined the rest of the Hurricanes in exchanging tearful hugs and smiles after the game. For the Villa Maria players, the post-game feeling was a mixture of nostalgia and sadness.
“This is a happy day looking back at all of the good memories I have of my Villa Maria volleyball career, this team is like our family,” said Orvieto. “But part of me is sad because we’re going to leave our teammates – we won’t see them every day, practice with them every day. I’ll never be on an indoor volleyball court again, and I’ll never be with my Villa Maria volleyball family, so it’s sad, but I’m happy that I have all these good memories to look back at.”
Scaggs added, “There is no team like Villa Maria volleyball. There’s nothing like this [team camaraderie] that I’ve found anywhere, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it, and to contribute to it. Early in the season, I said that I wanted to take us all the way [to a state title], and this is as far as it took us, but I’m glad we got this far, and I’m grateful. I’m so excited to see what they’re going to do next year.”

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