Nov. 8—SOMERSET — Two familiar foes met once again Tuesday night, this time with a trip to the PIAA Class 2A quarterfinals on the line.
District 6 runner-up Forest Hills knocked off District 5 champion and fellow Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference member Somerset 25-12, 25-22, 22-25, 25-13 in four sets.
On Oct. 3, Forest Hills also defeated Somerset in four sets.
The Rangers had balanced scoring with Mya Colosimo, Alexa Papcunik and Paxtyn Pcola providing 12 kills each, while teammate Julia Chunta dished out 44 assists to lead the scoring attack.
Forest Hills won its first PIAA tournament match and will meet District 11 champion Notre Dame-Green Pond on Saturday at a site and time to be announced.
"It is huge for us to move onto the elite eight for the first time ever for our program," Colosimo said. "We knew Somerset was going to play very scrappy. They have exceptionally good defense. We did not want to get caught in the tipping game and wanted to come out swinging."
Papcunik shared the excitement of advancing to the next round.
"I think we all played great tonight," Papcunik said. "We hit good, blocked good and played well as a team. I am really excited to move onto the elite eight."
Forest Hills coach Cassie Layman wanted her team to concentrate on serve-receive and get into their offense against Somerset's athletic defense.
"The game plan tonight was to work on first-ball termination," Layman said. "This is a very loud gym, and it was exciting, but terminating that first ball in serve-receive and getting into our offense quickly was our goal. Somerset did know us well. We chose to scrimmage them a few weeks ago because we knew they would help prepare us, and we would help prepare them. It's unfortunate we met so early in the playoffs, but this was a great match with two great teams."
Even with the loss, Somerset wasn't hanging its heads in defeat after back-to-back district titles.
"We just struggled to get into the flow on serve-receive all night," Somerset coach Scott Shirley said. "We struggled to put the ball on the money and to stay in the system. I was proud of how the girls responded in Sets 2 and 3. I am super-proud of this team for making it as far as they have with this many young players stepping in new roles this year. Hats off to Forest Hills as well. They were lethal at the net, and I wish them best of luck in the next round."
Somerset used the energy from its large crowd to come out inspired in the first set.
The Golden Eagles jumped out to an early lead 4-1. A pair of serving aces by Forest Hills Lia Konchan pulled the Rangers even. After a Forest Hills 4-0 run midway through, the wheels game off for Somerset as Forest Hills closed out the set on a 9-0 run behind three kills in the set by Adalynne Webb to take the set 25-12.
The Golden Eagles came out inspired to try to even it up in the second set. Somerset led 6-1 on a pair of kills by Abby Ledney.
Somerset maintained the advantage until a serving ace by Colosimo tied it at 18-all.
Somerset got a pair of kills by Olivia Svonavec, who had 20 on the night, to put Somerset ahead 22-21. The Rangers scored the set's final four points on a pair of serving aces by Pcola to prevail 25-22.
Somerset had to have the third set to keep its season alive, and the set was a back-and-forth affair until Forest Hills pulled ahead 20-15. The Golden Eagles rallied just as they did in the district championship game. This time, it was junior Savannah Landis stepping to the service line, and rattling off seven straight points aided by a trio of kills by Svonavec to give Somerset a 22-20 lead. The Rangers then tied it at 22-all. After a Svonavec ace made it 24-22, Emily Rush's kill ended it at 25-22.
Forest Hills controlled the fourth set, jumping out to an early 10-3 lead. The Rangers continued to spread the ball around on offense, and Somerset struggled with serve-receive, falling in the set 25-13 to conclude its season.