On Saturday, the Philipsburg-Osceola volleyball team traveled to Maplewood High School, a District 10 school in Crawford County to play in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
It was a long trip, around two hours, and the Lady Mounties struggled in the first set against a school with five state champion volleyball teams.
But Philipsburg-Osceola rebounded, just as it has done all season when it faces adversity.
The secret, according to head coach Dave Eckberg? The girls genuinely like each other and they enjoy playing together as a team.
Some may see that as cliche, but if you’ve seen enough P-O volleyball games the past few years, you have seen it in person.
With just one senior on the team — CeCe Hite — the Lady Mountie leadership has fallen to the younger players on the team.
But, Hite, who has been out since the District 6 quarterfinals due to a precautionary quarantine, has been with the team the entire way.
The girls have taken Hite’s senior poster with them to every game. Her name was announced during the District 6 championship game and her medal awarded to Josie Tekely, who was wearing CeCe’s poster like a cape.
Cece made it to Maplewood on Saturday too, and her poster was draped over a chair on the team’s bench.
The fans even got into the mood, chanting CeCe’s name during a Maplewood timeout in the fifth set as P-O was up 13-9.
“In the huddle at the end they were saying, ‘Let’s get this for Cece,’” said Eckberg. “We miss her and we miss Starcia (Bainey) being a part of this group.”
At the end of the match as members of the team ran off the bench to celebrate the win, CeCe came along too, getting crushed in a sea of blue and white.
“These girls are just so phenomenal,” Eckberg said. “They fight for us and they fight for each other. I am just so proud of them.
“It’s great that they get to come out and support each other and hopefully, Cece gets to rejoin us.”