Consistency was escaping the State College girls’ volleyball team Tuesday night.
The Lady Little Lions had some tough stretches at the wrong time, and it brought an end to their season in the PIAA Class 4A first round at Penn Cambria High School.
Seneca Valley exploited the inconsistency with its hitting and serving for a 25-15, 25-20, 25-22 victory. The Raiders advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals to meet North Allegheny.
“They’re really good, a really powerful team,” said State College junior Jess Irwin, who knocked down seven kills. “We fought back, but we just couldn’t finish it.”
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Emily Devlin was a handful for Seneca Valley with her 13 kills, four blocks and an ace. The Robert Morris-bound right-side hitter put down eight kills in the second set alone.
“We find a lot of teams have a hard time stopping her,” Seneca Valley coach Karen Martini said. “She’s really been playing consistent ball.”
The Raiders also put up a 7-3 advantage in blocking, holding the Lady Little Lions to a .086 hitting attack, augmented by 15 unforced hitting errors.
In all, the team made 26 unforced errors.
“We got a little wonky, out of hand, crazy,” State College coach Chad Weight said. “Not with the passing so much, but just with the general scrambling play, which is odd. We just didn’t have a good night overall and (Seneca Valley) played really well.”
The inconsistency led to some big point runs for both teams, but especially for the Raiders at key times. They closed the first set with 13 of the final 15 points, and ended the second with a 7-2 run. The third was even wilder, with a 7-0 Seneca Valley run, and a 9-2 response from State College to pull ahead 20-19, but Seneca Valley took four of the last five points to wrap up the win.
“Volleyball’s one of those real crazy sports that momentum is a big deal,” Weight said. “But, at the end of the day, what killed us were our hitting errors and not (playing) good defense. You can create momentum by doing those things better.”
Trying to manage those runs, with the power and physicality of the Raiders, added to the difficulty for State College when the team would get stuck in those holes.
“It’s hard because they’re a powerful team, so once they have (the momentum) they can get out on those runs,” Irwin added.
Aside from Devlin, none of the other Raiders hurt State College in hitting, with the rest of the lineup posting six kills or fewer. Seneca Valley barely had more kills than the Lady Little Lions — 33-32 for the match.
Kacy Sekunda and Leah Henderson posted eight kills apiece for State College. Henderson and Sekunda gave out 14 and seven assists, respectively, Henderson also had nine digs and Katie Finlan picked up 11 digs.
“We just wanted to leave it all out there and do our best,” Irwin said.
With Chloe Thompson the only senior on the roster, the Lady Little Lions are hoping to build on the season that produced a seventh consecutive District 6 title.
“Every season in its own way has its own successes,” coach Chad Weight said. “This season was successful. ... Winning seven district titles in a row is kind of a big deal.”