Both teams are ranked in the top ten of the state. A matchup between two of the best hitters in the district. Everything lined up for an intense match between the third seeded Eagles from Blue Mountain and the second seeded Spartans of Southern Lehigh. The teams met once already in a non-league match where Southern Lehigh handed Blue Mountain their first defeat, a 3-0 loss at Blue Mountain. The Colonial and Schuylkill League champions were ready to face off again in the District XI 3A semifinals Thursday.
When the teams met the first time earlier this month, Southern Lehigh looked like the better team throughout the entire match. Coming into this rematch though, Blue Mountain made adjustments with blockers at the net and were ready to try to stop Alyssa Adams and Brianna West from getting clean swings. The first set opened up with a 7-1 lead before a Spartan timeout. The blocking brigade of Blue Mountain’s front line of Paige Thomas, Maddy Robinson and Myah Conway started strong with four blocks in the first set for the Eagles to jump out to a 14-5 lead and coast through the rest of the set. The Eagles ended up winning the first set 25-11.
Grace Woll got the Eagles going again in the second set with her feet behind the end line. Her float serve proved to be a problem all day for the Spartans, as she had multiple aces as well as opportunities for kills for her teammates. The Eagles jumped out to a 5-1 lead and did not allow the Spartans to take the lead at any point in the second set. Blue Mountain won the second set 25-21 after a Mia Heim kill. Southern Lehigh coach Don West Jr. got his team together after the second set and gave some advice and encouragement for the third set.
His words worked magic, as they opened up the third set with a 4-0 lead before Blue Mountain head coach Nick Marrongelle called a timeout. Myah Conway helped bring the Eagles back into the match with multiple aces, and gave the Eagles the lead at 10-9. Southern Lehigh called a timeout and came back strong with six straight points to take a 15-10 lead. They didn’t look back for the rest of the set and took a 25-18 victory in the third set.
The intensity of the match started to heat up in the decisive fourth set. The set was back and forth before Blue Mountain took a 17-13 lead thanks to a five-point service run from Myah Conway. Southern Lehigh called timeout and came out of the timeout with a new mentality. They stopped the bleeding after a net call on the Eagles and rotated senior setter Brooke Adams to serve. She could not be stopped, and the Spartans took control of all the momentum to come back for a 25-21 victory and tie up the match.
It was a whole new match and a race to 15 points for a district final berth for one of the teams. The set was back and forth at the start. Southern Lehigh went up 7-6, but Blue Mountain answered with two straight points to go up 8-7. Blue Mountain held an 11-9 lead before Southern Lehigh went on another huge run behind Kendall Cioffi’s serves and multiple Alyssa Adams kills. Cioffi stepped up to serve with a 14-11 lead and floated a ball in between Blue Mountain’s front and back rows for a match ending ace, propelling Southern Lehigh to another district championship appearance and handing the Eagles their second loss of the season.
Blue Mountain ended their season with a 19-2 record and were Schuylkill League Division 1 and League champions. Blue Mountain seniors Kayla Biege, Maddy MacDonald, Mia Heim, Maddy Robinson, Grace Woll, Jocelyn Marshall and Myah Conway finished their stellar careers Thursday. This group will have back to back league championship banners hanging from the rafters of Blue Mountain High School for the rest of their lives.
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