Korrin Killin’ It: Burns Off to Big Start for Clarion Volleyball, Which Answered Test Against Warren
It’s hard to be better than Burns was on Monday night in Warren.
Burns had a prodigious night at the net with 40 kills as the Bobcats rallied from 2-1 down for a 25-13, 23-25, 27-29, 25-14, 15-8 victory over the Dragons to keep their 27-match winning streak alive.
It was the first time Clarion (3-0) had trailed in more than a year. In the Bobcats’ dream season in 2020, they lost only one set on the way to a 24-0 record and PIAA Class A state title.
“I thought it built a lot of confidence,” Burns said. “We know we’re a great team, and it was good to be tested. There was great energy in that gym and that really fueled us to play better.
“It felt good to come back,” Burns added. “It was a little nerve-racking. We really came together as a team and worked hard together.”
Clarion was playing without senior Adia Needham, who was feeling ill (not COVID-19), and then lost Ayrana Girvan to an ankle injury during pregame warmups. Girvan did return in the third set, gutting it out through the pain.
Clarion shuffled its lineup to compensate with Jordan Best moving from libero to outside hitter and Bri Pierce filling Best’s role. When Girvan returned, Best went back to libero.
Burns and setter Noel Anthony were in their usual positions and had unreal nights.
Anthony had 53 assists.
“She had an amazing game,” Burns said of Anthony. “She’s worked so hard in the gym. We started in June and we have worked for months and she has developed so well. She lifts. She stays after. I think she’s doing a fantastic job.”
So is Burns, who is off to her best-ever start with 75 kills in three matches so far in 2021.
She credits her torrid play to being relentless. Burns, a Saint Francis University recruit, wasn’t about to rest on her past accomplishments.
“I’ve been focusing on lifting and my healthy lifestyle — I’m eating better,” Burns said. “So, yeah, I feel a lot better than I did last season. I grew a lot over this club season (at Pittsburgh Revolution). I learned a lot of things. They taught me some great things, and I think I’m an even better player now than last year.”
Some of the things Burns gleaned from Revolution were subtle.
Burns said her biggest leap has been in the mental side of the game and how to avoid being complacent.
“I learned the importance of keeping a standard for yourself,” Burns said. “You always play your best, no matter who the competition is on the other side.”
Of course, it’s hard to be complacent at Clarion practices.
“The best play we have is in our gym when we’re practicing against each other,” Burns said. “I wish the public could see Clarion vs. Clarion in practice because you guys would truly be impressed with the depth we have on our team.”
Burns doesn’t just push herself in matches. She pushes herself in everything she does.
Practice? Just another place to test her mettle.
“I feel like I grow so much as a player in high school season as well as club season,” Burns added. “I get to have great players across the net from me at all times. I like to look at practice like I’m always competing. If I’m not the best one, there’s a problem.”
Burns said her teammates have the same mentality.
Perhaps that’s why winning a state title again is at the top of their list. It’s championship or bust for these Bobcats.
“I thought we had a great team before (Monday night), and I still think we’re a great team,” Burns said. “Nothing really changed my perspective.”
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