Nov. 14—The Maplewood Tigers volleyball team will battle Elk County Catholic tonight with a trip to the state title match on the line.
Maplewood and ECC play at Warren High School at 6 p.m. in the Class 1A PIAA semifinal round tonight. With a win, the Tigers would defend their 2022 state title on Saturday.
Despite graduating three all-state selections from last year, the team is back to the final four. A majority of the girls on the floor will have played at this level before.
"I think every bit of experience at this level helps pay off," Maplewood head coach Sheila Bancroft said. "We've been in some high pressure situations and some big atmospheres and big games this season. Hopefully the older girls can help bring the younger girls along."
Maplewood, the District 10 champion, will see ECC, the District 9 champion.
The Crusaders return all-state outside hitter Tori Newton. Fellow outside hitter Reagan Bauer and Newton combined for 31 kills in the team's district title match, according to D9sports.com.
"They are very good. They have a predominantly outside game," Bancroft said. "Two great outside hitters and a great right side hitter that can play outside as well. The middles are solid and they're athletic and solid all the way around. They will force you to make mistakes. We will definitely need to have a solid game defensively."
Elk County Catholic beat Serra Catholic 3-0 in the quarterfinals. Maplewood also swept its opponent, Bishop Canevin, in the quarterfinal round.
Maplewood is led by senior middle hitter Elizabeth Hunter, who had 21 kills on Saturday against Bishop Canevin. Savannah O'Hara added 12 kills. Sophomore setter Maggie Means runs the offense with freshmen Bree Neely, Lexy Potosky seeing time in the backrow.
The winner of today's match will play either Mt. Calvary Christian or West Branch at Cumberland Valley High School at 10:30 on Saturday. Maplewood beat West Branch 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-11) to win last year's title.
Alex Topor can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.