Greensburg Central Catholic volleyball rolls to 1st-round victory
Guarding against the prospects of another early exit from the WPIAL playoffs, Greensburg Central Catholic girls volleyball coach Courtney Stynchula used a different starting lineup for the third-seeded Centurions’ first-round match Wednesday night against Jefferson-Morgan at Hempfield.
The new-look Section 4-A champs responded with a 3-0 victory over the 14th-seeded Rockets behind eight kills from Abbey Kilkeary and six kills and three aces from Rachael Riley.
GCC, which won WPIAL and PIAA championships in 2016, will play Brentwood on Monday in the quarterfinals at a site to be determined.
Stynchula, recalling GCC’s first-round loss to Fort Cherry in the WPIAL first-round a year ago, had become increasingly frustrated in recent days with her team’s lackadaisical approach and decided to send a message to her players heading into the playoffs.
“We needed a lineup change because I just wasn’t satisfied with the way we were going about our business,” she said, adding she received a recommitment from all of her players heading into the postseason.
Stynchula substituted freely, relying at times on her usual lineup.
“We had a last-minute practice (Tuesday) and then again (Wednesday) before the match,” Stynchula said. “Everyone was on the same page when we left to come over here.”
GCC, which also received three kills from Ruby Binkerton, defeated Jefferson-Morgan on scores of 25-13, 25-23 and 25-7, routing the Rockets in the final set of the best-of-five after surviving a scare in the second.
“We have a quote we’ve used all year,” GCC junior Elizabeth Colecchia said. “Coach always asks us, ‘How hard would you play if you couldn’t play tomorrow?’ ”
Stynchula smiled when reminded of the reference.
“Yep, that quote was put into play today,” she said.
Shaler 3, Hempfield 1 -- Shaler continued its late-season run into the WPIAL playoffs, handily beating host Hempfield in a Class 4A first-round game for its eighth consecutive victory.
Mia Schubert registered 12 kills, and Oyinda Agbale added 11 to lead the Titans to a 3-1 victory on scores of 25-17, 25-16, 16-25 and 25-22.
“We just relied on our defense and on a calm approach to each game,” first-year Shaler coach Paul Stadelman said. “We kept that same approach, no matter what the situation.”
It worked well when the Titans were challenged. After dominating Hempfield in the first two games, the Spartans turned the tables with an impressive nine-point victory to send the best-of-five match to a fourth game, where Shaler held off a spirited Hempfield effort.
Shaler moves on to the quarterfinals Monday against No. 2 Baldwin.
“I was proud of the way my girls responded in the third set because it was looking pretty bleak,” Hempfield coach Kathy Kuhns said.
“We tried to come all the way back, and we played better after those first two games. But Shaler was the better team. They were blocking us better than any team we’ve seen. We probably haven’t seen that caliber of middle blockers before.”
No. 7 Hempfield shared the Secton 3-4A regular-season championship with Latrobe and Norwin, but the Spartans weren’t able to match No. 10 Shaler, which tied for third with Butler in Section 1.
The Titans held on in the fourth game for a tight three-point victory after taking the lead late. Sierra Ricci finished the match with 16 digs for Shaler.
“We’re playing well now, and that’s when you want to be playing your best, when you get to the playoffs,” Stadelman said.”
Butler 3, Latrobe 0 -- In the WPIAL Class 4A first round, Butler earned a 25-21, 25-12, 25-17 win over Latrobe. Emma Fenton and Sadie Wetzel each had five kills for Latrobe, which finished the season 11-6 overall and reached the playoffs for the first time in seven years.
Norwin 3, Peters Township 1 -- The No. 6-seeded Knights earned a first-round victory and advanced to play No. 3 Pine-Richland in the quarterfinals Monday.