PUNXSUTAWNEY — The PIAA Class AAA first round matchup between District 9 champ DuBois and District 7 runner-up Montour had the crowd on the edge of their seats on Tuesday evening at Punxsutawney.
The Lady Beavers traded several points back-and-forth with the Lady Spartans, keeping each game close.
But in the end, Montour was able to get a few more balls to fall winning 25-20, 25-22 and 25-14.
“Montour played a good game,” said DuBois head coach Jason Gustafson. “They are a well-rounded team. They bring a steady attack.
“But, the first two games I thought we played well. I thought it was back-and-forth. A few small, unforced errors are what really hurt us. If we could’ve cleaned things up a bit, it could’ve gone either way.”
And, it looked like the Lady Beavers were in line for their first win in the state tournament since 1989.
DuBois rallied from a 10-6 deficit in the first game to take an 11-10 lead thanks to the serve of Sydney Kaschalk.
The difference in the game was a three-point service run by the Lady Spartans. Two kills from Rosina Esposito and two aces off the serve of Lex Bruscemi gave the visitors a 15-12 lead.
DuBois couldn’t get any closer and Montour went on to win 25-20.
The Lady Spartans feature several tall players, but the Lady Beavers didn’t back down, blocking several balls to keep rallies going.
DuBois also stayed in system despite the hard serving of Montour.
In the second game, DuBois took a 10-6 lead thanks to some smart play at the net by Cayla Donahue, who pushed a ball across the net out of the reach of the Lady Spartan front row.
Lexi Ray had two kills during the run, while Danessa Allison had one.
“They have a good attack and they have some big kids, so that makes it even more challenging,” Gustafson said of Montour’s hitters. “I thought we limited our unforced errors and we didn’t miss a lot of serves. We tried to challenge them in serve-receive.
“I thought we recieved serve great in the first two games, and they serve the ball tough. But it’s just the little things that were the difference in the game.”
Those little things allowed the Lady Spartans to go on a four-point service run to take an 11-10 lead in the second game.
Two balls were dumped over the net, while another fell in between several DuBois players. Another ball went just out of bounds. Still the Lady Beavers kept challenging the Lady Spartans, pulling to within 24-22.
A kill by Liese gave Montour the 25-22 victory.
The third game saw Montour break out to an 8-3 advantage thanks to four kills from Rosina Esposito. She finished the game with 13 kills and eight service points.
“The last game we came out flat being down by two,” Gustafson said. “We didn’t have the fight we had the first two games and we gave them six or seven straight points right out of the gate.
“They put up a fight and we got back into it a little bit, but not as much as we needed to do to battle them in that game.”
Montour went on to win 25-14.
Amalia Esposito had eight kills and five service points for the Lady Spartans, while Mackenzie Herbst had six kills and six service points. Bruscemi added eight service points, while Gabby Tanny had seven and Mia Declemente had six.
“I think the kids did an awesome job against a good, solid team,” Gustafson said. “I don’t know what the expectation we would be on how we would challenge them, but we played neck and neck with them.
“The last game was not indicative of how the match went. I think we played a really good match, we just didn’t get it done.”
DuBois was led by Allison’s 28 digs, nine kills and five service points. Kelli Hoffer added 22 digs, five kills and five service points, while Sydney Kaschalk had seven kills and six service points.
Kylee Bundy netted 22 assists and three service points, while Abby Lecker had 27 digs.
“We’ve haven’t layed down in any game, and I don’t think we did tonight,” said Gustafson. “We battled back from a 9-2 deficit and I thought they showed a lot of character there.
“They just outdistanced us in the end.”
DuBois finished the season at 18-2.
Montour (15-2) plays District 3 champ Palmrya on Saturday.