New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The Shenango High girls volleyball team continued down the road to victory last night.
However, this time the ride was a little more bumpy than the team would have liked.
The fifth-seeded Lady Wildcats defeated 12th-seeded California, 25-18, 25-17, 23-25, 25-20 in their opening-round match of the WPIAL Class A playoffs at Mount Lebanon High School.
“I think they’re really excited to be going to the second round,” Shenango coach Angela Heagy said.
Shenango will play the winner of today’s West Shamokin-Bentworth match Tuesday at a time and site to be determined.
Despite the victory, there was a noticeable drop in play for the team in the latter half of the match.
After taking the first two games with relative ease, the Lady Wildcats (16-2) struggled in the third game. Shenango built a 16-12 lead, but that was quickly erased by eight consecutive points from the Lady Trojans (9-4). The run featured strong blocking by California and unforced errors from Shenango. Trailing 21-16, the Lady Wildcats stormed back to tie the game at 21. However, it wasn’t enough, as unforced errors got in the way again. The Lady Trojans won the game, 25-23.
“I think some of our senior players got a little tired,” Heagy said. “When they get tired, they’re the leaders of the team, so everybody else sort of starts to fall. They’re a very young team for the most part. I have a lot of sophomores. The youth broke down. ”
Shenango dominated matches in the regular season. The Lady Wildcats were 12-0 in Section 1 action and rarely afforded their opponents a fourth game.
“I think this game was a challenge for them because they’re not being used to being pulled to four games,” Heagy said. “Physically it was a challenge. I’m very proud of them for working through that. There are definitely some things we need to work on and practice before the next game.”
The Lady Wildcats battled back in the fourth game. With the score tied at 20, Shenango rolled off five consecutive points, highlighted by strong play from junior Jade Esposito.
“In the third game we just went in with big heads,” Esposito said. “We thought we could take it without playing the way we needed to play.”
Esposito, who had 24 digs, was a force on the backline, diving for loose balls and keeping the play alive.
“I think I could have done a lot better covering the back, but for the most part, I think keeping the ball up was good enough,” she said. “It’s great knowing we can come out of a section many consider weak and come in and beat a nonsection team like this.”
Sophia Koury finished with nine kills for the Lady Wildcats. Christina Rapone had 22 assists.