WINDBER — Despite a very strong first-set win, District 5 champion Somerset fell to Dover, the District 3 third-place squad, 20-25, 25-13, 25-22, 25-13 on Tuesday evening at Windber High School in the first round of PIAA Class 3-A playoffs.
Somerset finished the season at 16-4, while Dover improved to 16-7.
The Eagles advance to the state quarterfinals on Saturday vs. District 7 champion Knoch, which earned a 3-1 win vs. Elizabeth Forward, which finished fourth in District 7. Saturday's match is set for 3:30 p.m. at Hollidaysburg High. Dover was ranked No. 10 in the state in 3-A in the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association poll. Knoch is ranked No. 1 by the PVCA in 3-A.
“We played our best and should not have any regrets about our season,” said senior middle hitter Megan Flyte, who had seven kills and six blocks for Somerset. “Many of us have played together since seventh grade, some even longer than that. We played our absolute best tonight and can’t be ashamed of how we played against a great team.”
Somerset head coach Bits Barron held back tears in agreeing with Flyte. The coach was apparently emotional about ending the season with her team.
“These seniors have been a really big part of this program and they will be sorely missed,” Barron said. “They each added their special personalities and are a great group of girls.”
Coming off of the first-set win, Barron said her team had the momentum, but was used to being pushed from their competition all year.
“I knew, even though they lost that second set, they’d fight back again,” Barron said. “Dover is a quality team, and we gave them a good fight.”
White excels for Dover: Barron made note that her team’s service game caused themselves headaches, instead of their opponents. Dover had strong play from junior middle hitter Frankie White, who isn’t usually the team’s lead hitter, but stepped up for the match and put away kills on quick balls from the setter throughout the second and third sets.
“I was fired up and it felt awesome,” said White, who had 13 kills, six aces, five digs, and three blocks. “I knew that it was going to be the team that made the least amount of errors that would pull off the win, and I wanted that to be us. It’s a team effort, when you can play your best, it fires everyone else up, too.”
White led the her team at the net, but not without a contest from Somerset’s front line. Senior middle hitter Emma Reeping seemed to find a way to put the ball away and keep her team in each set as much as possible, tallying 13 kills and 6 digs.
Sophomore setter Anna Lane had 30 assists.
“We didn’t have any real game plan,” said Dover head coach Brett Hoffman. “I looked at their roster and saw their height, and we heard that they were a pretty good team. We wanted to serve well.”
Other Dover standouts: Hoffman said White stepped up, and was assisted by a strong setter in senior Abby Diehl, who had 38 assists.
Dover senior outside hitter Emma Davis had 17 kills.
Somerset’s senior libero, Olivia Foust, had eight digs, and senior hitter Taylor Fike added nine kills and six blocks.
“It’s a bittersweet ending in the state playoffs,” Barron said. “But, I couldn’t have asked for more from this group of athletes.
“I’m proud of them, and I will really miss these seniors.”