HUNTINGTON – For the second time in less than 24 hours, the Penn Kingsmen were lying on the ropes. And for the second time in less than 24 hours, it was the Carroll Chargers who put them there.
Friday night, two hours north of here on the football field, the Chargers finished them off. Saturday, on the volleyball court against the two-time defending state champions, they only almost finished them.
“We’ll catch them one of these years,” Carroll coach Doug Helsom said after No. 6 Penn got everything it wanted from his young Chargers before ousting Carroll 18-25, 27-25, 25-21, 23-25, 15-12 in the morning round of the Huntington North Class 4A semistate.
Unlike Friday, when Carroll stunned the Kingsmen in the Class 5A football playoffs, the magic wasn’t quite up to snuff this time.
“We definitely brought it up, there’s no doubt about that,” Helsom said. “Unfortunately we weren’t quite able to duplicate their efforts.
“But we’re very proud of the kids. They fought their way back in, fought their way back in time and time again against a great opponent. They never quit. They just kept giving themselves an opportunity to try to come out on top.”
More than one, as it turned out.
Behind the dominant net play of Audrey Mallers (15 kills), Jocelyn Bolinger (14), freshman Jacqueline Quade (13) and Charlotte Conser (8), Carroll rolled out to a 24-12 lead to nail down the first set and had set point at 25-24 in the second to put Penn down two sets.
But the Kingsmen rallied to score the last three points to take the second set, then ran out to a 15-7 lead in the third to win that one and turn the match in their favor.
“I think that (loss in set two) took a little of the wind out of our sails,” Helsom said. “And I think that showed in Game 3 when we came out a little flat.”
And Penn didn’t, having gotten that first-set wakeup call.
“I think they really realized this could be it for them,” Carroll senior setter Copeleigh Ortiz (47 assists, 12 digs) said. “Both teams really start to step it up once you lose a game, because you realize you don’t want your season to be over.”
Neither did Carroll.
The Chargers rallied to win a fourth set that featured 10 lead changes and ended with Carroll winning four of the last six points. Penn immediately ran out to a 5-0 lead in the fifth set on Alyssa Schneider’s service – but, again, Carroll fought back to 13-12 before a service error and one last block at the net by Penn finally ended it.
“They just finished it when we couldn’t,” Ortiz said. “We would dig ourselves in these holes by six, seven points and fight real hard to get back, but by the time we got back in we were just drained out. And we just couldn’t finish it.”
SOUTHWOOD 3, ADAMS CENTRAL 1: Haley Gross had 12 kills for the Jets in a Class 2A semistate semifinal loss. The scores were 25-13, 24-26, 25-13, 25-20. Whitney Peterson added 10 kills. Madi Schwartz had 18 digs and 25 assists.