The State College boys’ volleyball team got off to a strong start and managed to win the points when they mattered at the end of each set Thursday night.
The Little Lions dispatched McDowell in a three-set sweep 25-18, 25-21, 25-23 in a PIAA play-in match at DuBois High School, sending them to the PIAA tournament for a sixth straight season.
“There have been some matches we have played where we won but we didn’t look good doing it,” coach Kim-Li Kimel said. “Today we definitely looked good doing it.”
State College (10-7) will face the District 7 runner-up, either North Allegheny or Bethel Park, in a first round match on Wednesday. The site and time of the match has not been announced.
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The Little Lions used a balanced offense to put away the Trojans, with 11 kills each for John Dorsey and Deniz Demirci and 10 for Eric Deshong, who also had three aces. Andrew Groves directed the offense with 37 assists and Noah Hanahan had another big night in the backcourt with 27 digs.
“We were able to pass and play exceptional defense,” said Kimel, whose team won the District 6 title on Tuesday after surviving a tough Mid-Penn Conference filled with state powers. “Our setter, Andrew Groves, did a good job distributing the ball.”
McDowell (10-2), which was the District 10 champion and defeated Allderdice of Pittsburgh in a subregional match on Monday, was led by Greg Beery’s nine kills, Cody Meyer’s seven kills, Jesse Bloomster’s six kils, Jake Carniewski’s 26 assists and Brandon Ferrier’s 12 digs.
The Trojans had a shaky start to the match and State College took advantage to keep McDowell in a deep hole.
The second set also began with the Little Lions in command and winning a frame not as close as the final 25-21 count would indicate.
The third set, however, was tight from end to end, including the teams being knotted at 18-18, 21-21 and 23-23.
“If they had started the match playing that well, we would have gone five games,” Kimel said. “Both teams were playing aggressive offense, playing dynamic plays. It was toe-to-toe, head-to-head the whole way.”
Dorsey finally ended the contest with a cross-court kill to set up the return to the PIAA tournament. State College lost to Norwin in the opening round of the state tournament last season.