GUYS MILLS — The PIAA and the Penncrest School District alotted just 62 tickets for Philipsburg-Osceola fans and family to travel to Saturday afternoon’s Class AA quarterfinal between Maplewood and the Lady Mounties.
And did those 62 fans get a show.
The Lady Mounties rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 to take the Lady Tigers to a fifth set, capturing their first berth in the PIAA semifinals with the 15-9 victory.
“I think we were still on the bus for the first game,” said P-O head coach Dave Eckberg. “But, that is more adversity that these girls have to fight through and that makes them a better team.
“Maybe because of that, we had something a little extra at the end.”
The two-hour plus trip showed in the first set, when the Lady Mounties were stunned 25-9 by the Lady Tigers, a program that has five state titles to its name.
Maplewood’s front line of Chloe Leech, Sadie Thomas and Kaysea Thomas kept P-O on its toes, or more specifically, their knee pads.
“Everybody had to dig,” said Eckberg. “That team (Maplewood) is great. They are so smart and their hitters were smart. They were hitting cross-court shots inside our block, which we hadn’t seen all year.
“We had to make some adjustments, defensively, after game one. And then you could see it. We started to dig some ball and block some balls. That is a great team over there.”
The adjustment helped tremendously in the second set. While still close, the Lady Mounties were able to pull out some fantastic plays to score the win.
Reese Hazelton had 12 kills in that set, while Kalista Butler added three service points, including an ace to make it 24-23.
“We had some really key plays from every single girl out there,” said Eckberg.
Three service errors and a small service run from Madison Vergona gave the Lady Tigers a 25-17 victory over the Lady Mounties in the third set.
Needing just one more set to win, Maplewood looked in good shape, but that’s when the Lady Mounties kicked it into another gear.
A six-point service run from London Cutler, along with four kills from Hazelton and two from Jayden Perks turned an 11-5 deficit into a 12-11 advantage.
Tied 23-23, the Lady Mounties won in a kill by Cutler and a hitting error to send it to a fifth set.
And P-O didn’t disappoint, giving their fans a reason to cheer, and Maplewood a reason to take both of its timeouts.
The Lady Mounties dominated the final game, with Hazelton, Cutler and Perks all getting kills. Butler served up the final three points to give the Philipsburg-Osceola the 15-9 win.
“The odds were stacked against us, having to travel and having to play on their home court,” Eckberg said. “The girls fought it out and fought for each other and we are moving on. I’m just really proud of them.”
Hazelton finished the game with 38 kills, 19 digs, 13 service points and two aces. Butler netted 53 assists, 10 service points, two aces and two blocks.
Janey Johnson led the team in digs with 27. London Cutler garnered 13 digs and 10 kills. Jayden Perks had six kills and one block, while Paige Jarrett netted four kills. Josie Tekely served up four points.
The Lady Mounties move on to their first PIAA semifinal, traveling to Cranberry Township to face off against District 7 champion North Catholic on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.