Wellsboro rallies past Mansfield to win Class AA district title
LAWRENCEVILLE - Just call the Wellsboro Green Hornets the cardiac kids.
For the second straight match the Green Hornets were down, on the brink of elimination.
And, for the second straight day Wellsboro battled back, this time in the District 4, Class AA final, winning a five-game match against the Mansfield Tigers to capture the district title.
Wellsboro dropped the first game 25-17, won the next 25-13, dropped the third 25-18 and closed things out by winning the final two games 25-23 and 15-6.
It was in the fourth game where all the drama really began.
In each of the games on Thursday one of the teams got off to a lead of at least four points within the first 10 points of the game.
In each of those games the team that built the early lead held on to win the game, every game that is except that fourth game.
Right from the start Mansfield came out strong, carrying the momentum over from their third game.
They built leads of 6-2 and 7-3 early in the game.
As the game went on the Green Hornets battled back and the game was tied at 12.
However, Mansfield started to rebuild their lead as a Becca Toothacker kill, followed by a Leah Fritz ace, another Toothacker kill and a Shannon Madigan kill had them up 16-12.
Wellsboro closed within one at 17-16, but another Toothacker killed, followed by a shot going long put Mansfield up 19-16.
Wellsboro got within two, but Mariah Berguson had a kill and Maddy York followed with a kill to make it 21-17.
After a Wellsboro block, a Wellsboro shot went long and it was 22-18 Tigers.
Hannah Zuchowski got a kill for Wellsboro to get the Green Hornets within three, but a Garverick kill made it 23-19 and the Tigers were two points away from a district title.
That's when the Green Hornets roared to life, getting a kill from Shelby Young and a three straight Zuchowski kills as they rallied to win that fourth game.
"We liked to give people a show," Zuchowski said.
"We want people to get their money's worth," Maggie Smith joked.
Just as they had on Wednesday when they were one point away from elimination against Troy in the fifth game, it's when they are down, that the Green Hornets seem to play their best.
"We play our best with our backs to the wall," Young said.
"We knew it was now or never," Mackenzie Marple said. "We had to get started."
For the Wellsboro players there was confidence they could come back.
"We feel like we can come back, we can rely on everyone," Zuchowski said. "It was kind of OK, we got to get going now."
However, they also know how much they might have scared the people watching the game.
"My dad asked me if I was trying to give him a heart attack," Marple said.
Once they got through that fourth game, the Green Hornets didn't want any drama in the deciding game.
After winning a thrilling fifth game on Wednesday against Troy that went down to the wire, on Thursday the Green Hornets jumped out to a 9-3 lead and cruised to the game five win.
"It was way too stressful yesterday," Marple said.
After battling back day after day the Green Hornets are now district champions.
"It's been our goal since freshman year," Zuchowski said.
"It's been our goal since day one," Smith added.
The Green Hornets know the road to the district title wasn't easy, coming from behind in the fifth game in the final, defeating the top seed in the semifinals, but that's what made it special.
"We had to come from behind for everything," Zuchowski said.
"We wanted to get it done our senior year," Young said.
And, when the final point was scored, the Green Hornets leapt in the air in celebration.
"I remember hugging Mackenzie," Zuchowski said. "I've probably not jumped higher before."
Now, the Green Hornets head to the state regional game at Dallas High School at 5 p.m. on Tuesday against the District 2 champion.
We are so excited," Smith said.
Zuchowski led Wellsboro with 33 kills and she added 24 digs and 21 points in the victory.
Marple had four kills and 22 assists and Alex Kurtz had four kills and 10 points, along with 16 assists.
Katie Straniere had 25 digs in the match and Smith finished with 12 points for Wellsboro.
Mansfield got 12 points from Cassie Frederick, who had 13 digs and York had four points, with an ace, to go with 17 kills.
Berguson had seven points and she added three kills, an ace and 15 digs, along with a block.
Madigan had five points, 11 kills and 19 digs.
Toothacker had a block and 12 kills.
Justin Berkowitz had seven points and an ace and he added 13 digs.
Andrea Neff had an ace and Leah Fritz had two aces.
The Williamson Warriors were awarded their District 4, Class A championship plaque on Thursday.
They were the lone team to qualify for districts in Class A this year.
The Warriors host the District 3 champ in their regional game at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Towanda High School.