Clarion Dominates District 9 in Winning Third Straight Class 1A Volleyball Title
ST. MARYS, Pa. (D9Sports) – Winning a District 9 title isn’t supposed to look this easy, but that is exactly how it looked for the Clarion volleyball team as it completed a perfect sweep of the D9 playoffs with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-13) victory over Elk County Catholic in the title game Saturday afternoon at St. Marys High School.
Relisten to the Match:
“We don’t take these for granted,” Clarion head coach Shari Campbell, whose team won a D9 title for the 11th time in the past 14 years and for the 13th time since 2001, said. “We have been here and not won them. It is all about how a team is feeling in the moment of the day you are playing. That is a lot of what this journey is through the payoffs. It is being the team that you need to be on the rise at the right time.”
Watch the final point for Clarion (Note while the radio call says it was a net violation upon watching the video Aryana Girvin of Clarion actually hits through the block for the final point for Clarion.)
To say Clarion is on the rise would be an understatement.
In three District 9 playoff games this week, the Lady Cats (16-1) swept all nine sets they played winning by an average score of 25 to 14.6. Only once in those nine sets did the opponent even get to 20 points, and that was A-C Valley in the second set of the semifinals Thursday when Clarion won 25-20.
Junior setter Brenna Campbell, Shari’s daughter, credited the schedule Clarion plays during the regular season, both matches and weekend tournaments, for being part of the reason things were so easy in the District 9 playoffs.
“Our coach tries to push us throughout the season and it helps us in the playoffs,” Brenna Campbell said. “(It) makes our life a lot easier.”
Brenna Campbell had a lot to do with the victory Saturday, and was named the Hager Paving Player of the Match after distributing 37 set assists while adding two blocks, two digs and a kill.
“She played phenomenally today,” Shari Campbell said while noting that when she talks about Brenna’s play she is doing so from a coach’s perspective. “Her choices and the way she distributed the ball, I think she is probably one of the top five setters in the state of Pennsylvania right now having seen 22 of the top-ranked teams we have played. She is making decisions that really highlight these hitters and give them opportunities. It is just a great fit. I am looking for her to continue to drive the offense and make some really great decisions.”
Brenna Campbell is helped by the fact Clarion has a number of hitters she can feed, and feed them she does.
On Saturday, seven different Lady Cats recorded at least one kill with four of them recording at least seven kills.
“Being able to spread the offense is really great,” Brenna Campbell said. “Having layers of offense so teams don’t know who is getting the ball the time (is great). Everyone on our team can put a great ball over the net and score. That’s good.”
Korrin Burns, who didn’t start the match because of a coach’s decision, didn’t let coming off the bench bother her leading the team with 13 kills, including seven in the first set after getting on the floor early in the set.
“I asked Korring when she subbed in to bring the energy,” Shari Campbell said. “That was her job, to bring the fire. I am super proud of her. It shows a lot of fortitude and maturity, and I think that we are going to see a lot of great things from this point on because of it.”
Burns, who added six digs and an ace, was far from the only Clarion hitter to have a strong game.
Freshman Aryana Girvin continued her strong play of late with seven kills while adding three blocks and three aces, and Kait Constantino didn’t allow a slow start on offense to keep her from playing an all-around solid game with seven kills, six digs and two aces.
Clarion’s offense was so proficient that the Lady Cats need not worry about ECC making mistakes, as 54 of their 75 points came off kills, blocks or aces.
“I am super happy with the way we played,” Shari Campbell said. “I think we served received the best we have in a long time. We passed a 2-4 out of a 3-0, and we only dropped three ball on the floor the entire match. I said we were not letting the wood make decisions for us. We were going to talk, communicate, play ball and trust that we have the speed to be able to manage as long as every ball is up. It is how we play in our gym daily.”
The Lady Cats’ defense was so on target that it held ECC’s all-state outside hitter Taylor Newton to just 11 kills, which might not seem all that great until one considers the fact Newton had 54 kills in the Lady Crusaders first two postseason matches.
“We are a really good defensive team,” Brenna Campbell said. “KK Girvin (who had 12 digs) had amazing digs. Korrin and Kaitlin did too. And even though we are short, we are a great blocking team. I think we really did well blocking her tonight.”
It wasn’t 100 percent about Clarion’s defense in keeping Newton in check, Shari Campbell said.
“Offensively, we made sure we served in places that we knew would make it very difficult to get her the ball,” Shari Campbell said. “That was the first thing. Defensively, we just made sure that Aryana Girvin and Maddie Schill were the primary blockers that were facing her at least two-and-half rotations that she was front row because they are phenomenal blockers We were also doing some different blocking schemes and sometimes getting three people in front of that big outside hitter. That is intimidating.”
Intimidating is a good word to describe how the match went, as Clarion only trailed in any set four times, and all four of those came early in the third set by one point each time (1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 5-4).
Other than that, ECC was never allowed to be in a position to feel like it had any semblance of control in the match with Clarion using an 8-1 run in the first set to go from up two, 12-10, to up nine, 20-11, then on a 7-2 run in the second set to go from up three, 10-7, to up eight, 17-9, before using a 13-1 run in the third set to erase the 5-4 deficit and take control up 17-6.
“I always love coming up here,” Brenna Campbell said. “It’s just a tradition to win it. I am just happy that we did.”
Watch Brenna Campbell’s full interview.
Clarion will take on Saegertown, the District 10 runner up, in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs Tuesday, Nov. 5, at a site and time to be announced.
“We are team,” Shari Campbell said. “We are humble, we work together and the team has everybody’s back.”
The season isn’t over for ECC (15-2), as the Lady Crusaders are also headed to the PIAA playoffs where they will take on District 10 champion Cochranton also Tuesday, Nov. 5.
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