Warriors fall short in state final
YORK - Williamson's run through the PIAA Class A volleyball playoffs ended on Saturday but not how they wanted it to.
District IX champion Clarion came out strong and the Warriors never recovered, falling to the Bobcats 3-0 in the state final.
"I think we were definitely a little overwhelmed by the bigness of the day," Williamson coach Mark Klemick explained. "We played a lot more tentatively than we have all year. That definitely hurt."
Things went downhill quickly for Williamson.
Clarion jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the first game partially on their strong play at the net but also because Williamson's normally flawless setter Lindsea Jones was called for two double-hits while setting for her teammates.
"I think those two errors rattled her," Klemick said.
Setting errors were prevalent on both sides as the head official called a very tight game.
Clarion would extend the lead to 10-3 before Williamson called timeout. Coming out of the break Clarion's Hannah Wolf made it 11-3 on a kill but the Warriors responded.
After back to back service errors Williamson's Lori Horton had a strong kill that led to three straight Warrior points to put them back in the match.
With their lead cut to 12-7 Clarion pushed back, scoring four straight points to go back up 16-7.
Williamson's Amber Fitzmartin scored a kill to stop the run and the two teams went back and forth until Clarion went up 24-11.
On the bring of losing the first game Williamson kept fighting. After a Bobcats service error Horton had another kill to cut it to 24-13, followed by a block to make it 24-14.
But the deficit was too large and Clarion scored that 25th point to take the first game 25-14.
This wasn't the first time this season Williamson had started slow, losing their first games in the opening round of states versus Halifax and in the quarterfinals against Bishop Carroll. But they were able to overcome those starts to finish strong and advance.
As the second game started it looked like they had righted the ship just like before.
Back to back errors by the Bobcats put Williamson up 2-0 in the second game. Clarion rattled off three straight points to take a 3-2 lead but a Sierra Magnotta kill tied the game back up again.
After trading off points a Whitney Hurlburt kill once again gave Williamson the lead, this time 5-4. However, things turned against them when they had back to back errors, followed by a net violation which allowed Clarion to go up 7-5.
Hurlburt brought them back, scoring back to back kills to knot things up again.
That's how the second game went, Clarion would take a short lead and Williamson would hang tough.
More importantly, Klemick began to see his team play more aggressive.
"The second game we started having some hits," he explained. "Our defense started covering a little bit better."
A Kim Daugherty kill would knot things at 13-all but that's when it all began to unravel.
Clarion followed that with eight straight points, four of which came on blocks and kills the others on errors.
Williamson couldn't recover and Clarion went on to take the game 25-14 and a pivotal 2-0 lead.
"We got tentative again," Klemick remarked. "Aggression is the difference in a final like this."
With a state title close the Bobcats wasted little time in the third game.
They jumped out to a 10-2 lead at the start and never looked back as they went on to win 25-9 to take the Class A title.
"You could just see the girl's frustration," Klemick said. "All year long we've come back from nine point deficits but they've had that look in their eyes like they believe they could do it and today I didn't see that so much out there."
The Bobcats got out a little frustration of their own with the win. The past two seasons they had reached the state final but come up short. This year they made sure that didn't happen again.
Hurlburt had 10 digs, four kills, five points and 10 receptions for Williamson while Daugherty added six kills and one block. Jones had 14 assists and six points.
At the net Horton added six kills and two blocks while Fitzmartin had two kills.
On the backline Jenna Hugic had 10 digs and six points while Katie Haslund had 13 receptions. Magnotta also had five service points.
For Williamson seniors Jones, Hurlburt, Daugherty, Fitzmartin, Brittany Haight, Hugic and Kaitlyn Bailey this ends a strong career that saw the Warriors advance past the first round of states the past two seasons.
"It's been a great year," Klemick remarked. "They made it to the quarterfinals last year and played very poorly. They knew they did and they knew they weren't getting along last year at that point and they're goal was to make it further this year and they set that at the beginning of the season. Usually you don't get a second chance to go back and make up from mistakes like that and they said were going to and they made it to the finals. They've been very determined and its been a very enjoyable coaching season for me."
Despite the setback it was a historic day for Williamson.
"This is a huge day for our school," Klemick said. "We've never had a team sport make it to the finals in any state competition so it was a huge deal for our school."