MARPLE TWP. — Every time one of his players goes back to serve, Sacred Heart coach Sam Moyerman holds up his clipboard to signal instructions to his player.
There is no card on the board. Moyerman uses the clipboard to block where he’s telling the server to place the ball.
“He’s giving us spots to serve at,” sophomore setter Annie Corcoran said.
“He just calls out numbers,” added junior outside hitter Emily McKenna.
The Lions followed Moyerman’s instructions to the letter and Sacred Heart’s service game, plus the connection between Corcoran and McKenna, was enough to send the District 1 champions into Saturday’s PIAA Class A quarterfinals with a 3-0 victory over District 3 champ Lititz Christian in the first game of a state volleyball doubleheader at Cardinal O’Hara.
“I told the girls we wanted to be aggressive in serving for aces,” Moyerman said. “It was really important for us to set a tone with our serving.”
In a battle of two of the top-ranked teams in the state, according to the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association, the service line and the connection between Corcoran and McKenna was the difference and the second-ranked Lions (17-7) set the tone right from the start as Moyerman wanted.
Macie Moresco opened the match with six straight service points, including several aces. She finished with six aces. The seventh-ranked Eagles (21-3) survived that opening barrage but not two subsequent streaks from Corcoran and McKenna.
McKenna had three of her 16 kills while Corcoran was at the service line as Sacred Heart turned a 10-9 deficit into a 13-11 lead. McKenna then placed two of her five aces in a six-point run that powered the Lions to a 25-16 victory in the opening set.
From there, Corcoran and McKenna took over. McKenna had six kills, all on assists from Corcoran as the Lions held off Lititz for a 25-23 victory in the second set. The Eagles had rallied from a 22-17 deficit to get within 23-22 but Corcoran set up McKenna for a kill to keep the Lions in front.
“They’ve come on really strong of late,” Moyerman said of Corcoran and McKenna. “When they’re rolling it’s really nice to watch. Once Emily gets moving it’s hard to stop her. She has a really good swing and Annie has done a really good job running the offense and where to go with the hot hand.”
Her first look, especially when things get tight, is McKenna.
“I just know that Emily is a reliable player,” Corcoran said. “Anytime I can get the ball to her she knows what needs to be done and does it.”
“We have a good connection,” McKenna said. “We always seem to know when to go at the right time. It just clicks all the time.”
That connection continued to thrive in a 25-15 third-set victory that sent the Lions into the quarterfinals for a rematch with District 11 champ Marian Catholic, the team that knocked Sacred Heart out of the state tournament last year in the semifinals. McKenna had four kills late in the set off Corcoran assists and closed it out with an ace.
“We got to the semifinal last year and that was one of my best experiences in volleyball,” Corcoran said. “We have a quote this year: ‘Unfinished Business.’ We want to get farther than we did last year.”
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