HS VOLLEYBALL: Zick, Brant lead Blue Ridge to win over North Pocono in opener

Aug. 30—COVINGTOWN TWP. — Blue Ridge started the season with an inspired effort that thwarted a fierce challenge from its newest rival.

Libby Zick and Kaelynn Brant, two of the team's veteran players, came through in the clutch as the Lady Raiders defeated North Pocono, 3-1 (25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21) in an intense Lackawanna League season-opening girls volleyball match Tuesday night.

And there won't be a rematch in the regular season.

"I am very proud of this team," Zick said. "We stayed up and were never too hard on ourselves when we made mistakes or fell behind. We always stayed positive and worked very hard."

Blue Ridge, a Class 1A team, and North Pocono, a Class 3A team, played three times last season when both were members of Lackawanna Division I. The Lady Raiders won twice, including in a playoff to determine the champion.

This fall, the league expanded with new programs and realigned to only one division. It resulted in only one head-to-head battle between Blue Ridge and North Pocono, and Zick, who was last season's Times-Tribune Player of the Year, came through with 25 assists, 15 digs, and seven service points, while Brant had 12 kills and 10 digs.

"Once we all came together, our energy really worked well for us," Brant said.

The much-anticipated showdown lived up to and, at times, exceeded expectations. It featured extended rallies, diving defensive digs, players launching themselves into the bench for saves, rocketed kills, and excellent fundamentals.

Both teams traded momentum early in the first set, but Blue Ridge seized control when Leigha McCain put together a four-point run. The Lady Raiders built a 17-12 lead on an ace by McCain, and they went on to earn a 25-20 win.

North Pocono frustrated the Blue Ridge offensive attack by consistently digging out kill attempts and getting right into an offensive set.

Soyer DeLucy ran the offense, and her sets led to some powerful slams by sophomore Mia Summa. The one-two punch got in rhythm in the second set, and DeLucy achieved the 1,000th assist of her career midway through a 25-23 win.

"I was extremely excited that I was able to achieve this on our home court," said DeLucy, who finished with 35 assists. "I am really proud that I was able to accomplish this."

North Pocono carried the momentum into the third set and looked poised to take the overall lead when it built a 21-15 lead. Summa had five kills, and Lauren Clarke, who had eight digs in the match, and Pia Zangardi, who finished with 24 digs, emerged as defensive stoppers for the Lady Trojans.

Then Blue Ridge slowly erased the dire situation. Emma Button, who also had a good game defensively with 30 digs, went on a four-point run that featured a kill from McCain. After an unforced error by North Pocono, Zick picked up the speed on her overhead serve and rallied the Lady Raiders to four straight points for the 25-22 win.

"We took our mistakes and just shook them off," Zick said. "We supported each other and were screaming as loud as we could. There were some really long rallies, and we were determined to win."

North Pocono put Blue Ridge on its heels early in the fourth set. Summa, who finished with 20 kills and 10 digs, got charged up again, with DeLucy putting her in good positions to spike winners with steady sets. She had three kills, and the Lady Trojans had a 7-2 lead on an ace by Mariah Wolff.

Still, the Lady Raiders, who have won nine straight District 2 Class 1A championships, refused to get unnerved. Brant got going offensively and provided five kills during a stretch where Blue Ridge eventually took a 17-16 lead.

"It was about finding spots," Brant said. "They were playing such good defense. We just had to be smart with the ball."

Abigail Gelinger, a freshman, also gave Blue Ridge a spark at the net; sophomore Sarah Gorham also provided a couple of blocks in the middle, and the lead climbed to 22-19.

North Pocono drew within 22-21 on an ace by DeLucy, but the Lady Raiders closed it out with three straight points.

"There were so many positives to take from this match, and that is what I am focused on," North Pocono coach Alexandra Zero said. "I am very happy for Soyer to achieve her milestone, because she deserves it. I think the girls will take this and use it as a learning experience, and the next game will be better."

Blue Ridge (1-0) 25 23 25 25

North Pocono (0-1) 20 25 22 21

Abington Heights 3, Scranton 1

At Abington Heights, Madison Smith had nine digs and Veda Dickinson had seven aces to lead the Lady Comets.

Regan Allison had six kills for Abington Heights and Sadie O'Brien had four blocks.

Natalia Archangeli had 11 kills and 12 digs for Scranton, Amaya Maglioli had 15 digs and seven aces, Mia Carachilo had 11 digs and Kyleah Wilson had 15 assists and five digs.

Scranton (0-1) 23 22 26 10

Abington Heights (1-0) 25 25 24 25

JV: AH, 2-0.

Lackawanna Trail 3, Valley View 1

At Valley View, Cheyanne Zona had seven assists and 21 points and Gretchen Rejrat had seven kills to lead Lackawanna Trail.

Cloe Van Fleet had seven assists and 11 points for the Lady Lions.

Layla Marino had three kills and five aces for Valley View and Adriana Barcarola had three aces.

Lackawanna Trail (1-0) 25 25 23 25

Valley View (0-1) 12 14 25 8

JV: LT, 2-0.

Forest City 3, West Scranton 0

At West Scranton, Sydney Hodges had 18 points and 13 digs and Caitlyn Burns had 10 points and nine kills to lead Forest City.

Ashley Bossick had nine points and 12 assists for the Lady Foresters and Alyssa Lewis had five aces.

Brianna Fay had 12 digs for West Scranton and Katie Evans and Emily Stefani each had six aces.

Forest City (1-0) 25 25 25

West Scranton (0-1) 10 17 22

JV: FC, 2-1.

Dunmore 3, Mid Valley 0

At Mid Valley, Allie Dempsey had 15 points, nine aces and six assists to lead Dunmore.

Leena Conte had 12 points for the Lady Bucks and Abbey Earley had four aces.

Dunmore (1-0) 25 25 25

Mid Valley (0-1) 5 3 7

JV: DUN, 2-0.

Elk Lake 3, Montrose 1

At Montrose, Carolyn Cannella had 21 aces and Kayden Forkal had five kills to lead Elk Lake.

Cheyenne Horn had five aces for the Lady Warriors.

Maggie Jones had five blocks and four aces for Montrose, Katelyn Sherwood had four aces and Liz Green had five blocks.

Elk Lake (1-0) 14 25 25 25

Montrose (0-1) 25 16 23 8

JV: MON, 2-0.

Mountain View 3, Susquehanna 1

At Susquehanna, Rachael Evans had 10 kills, 17 assists and eight aces to lead Mountain View.

Addison Kilmer had eight blocks and 10 kills for the Lady Eagles and Ryliegh Kilmer had six kills.

Alex Hall had 12 assists for Susquehanna, Tori Straway had eight kills and Bella Bishop had six kills and three aces.

Mountain View (1-0) 28 29 25 25

Susquehanna (0-1) 26 31 23 21

JV: MV, 2-1.

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