ST. MARYS — For the third year in a row DuBois will represent District 9 in the PIAA Class 3A playoffs after it swept Bradford 25-23, 25-11, 25-16 for the district title Saturday afternoon at St. Marys Area High School.
The Lady Beavers got off to a bit off a sluggish start in the opening set, before rallying late to come away with the narrow victory as they then went on to dominate the next two sets to secure the sweep, which was the second in as many years over Bradford.
“I cherish them all the same,” DuBois head coach Jason Gustafson said of his team’s three straight titles. “I’ve had great groups of kids and this is another one and I’m just really happy for them and it’s something they’ll remember forever.”
DuBois, playing as the home side after securing the top seed in the three-team bracket, fell behind near the midway point of the first set as the Lady Owls were able to take a four-point lead at 17-13, which was the biggest margin for either side in the set.
After the Lady Beavers had taken a 13-12 edge, a kill by Bradford’s Alix Ordiway swung the service back to the Lady Owls’ side and evened the score.
Leah Faulkner then came up big at the service line for the Lady Owls with four straight points helped along by a kill from Erica Marshall as Bradford found itself with a 17-13 advantage in search of a 1-0 set lead.
Sydney Kaschalk then came up with back-to-back kills for DuBois to help swing the momentum, as a pair of kills from Cayla Donahue later helped cut the deficit to 19-18.
Bradford responded by winning the next two points to go up 21-18 as the second came on a key block by Marshall.
On the ensuing service, Donahue recorded a kill which allowed junior Lakin Smith to take the line for the Lady Beavers, as she came up with a three-point run behind back-to-back aces and a kill from Sadowski to help give DuBois a 22-21 edge.
Sadowski later recorded a pair of kills to give the Lady Beavers set-point at 24-22, but Bradford was able to fight that off with a side out as it earned the service down a point.
Off a serve by Marshall on the next point, Kaschalk came up with a set-winning kill, sending a shot into the back corner to secure a 25-23 victory for DuBois.
“I don’t wanna make excuses though,” Gustafson said on his team’s slow start. “They (Bradford) have improved a ton since the first two times we played them. They are relentless on defense and just scrappy and that in itself can get in your head when you’re not ready to play.”
“We definitely had a lull, we hadn’t played in several days, so that makes it tough at the start, but regardless you’ve gotta step up and play.”
The trio of Sadowski, Kaschalk and Donahue, who all had big days at the net for the Lady Beavers, recorded five kills apiece in the opening set.
Sadowski and Kaschalk finished tied for a match-high 11 kills while Donahue added nine.
While the second set was close early on, a big service run by Taylor Smith propelled DuBois to a commanding 14-point victory.
Bradford got a kill by Alex Asp to get within 9-6 and earn the service, but Sadowski quickly returned the serve to her team’s side of the court with a kill.
Taylor Smith then took the service line and rattled off eight points in a row to give DuBois a commanding 18-6 advantage as the run included three aces and one kill apiece from Kaschalk and Sadowski.
Kaschalk later finished off the set at the line with a trio of service points as the Lady Beavers took a 2-0 set lead on the match with a 25-11 victory.
“We definitely settled in in set two, especially on the service line,” Gustafson said. “Our ball control was good today, which was the biggest factor because it gave us the opportunity to set the offense up.”
After holding the Lady Owls to just two service points in the second set, DuBois limited the second seed to six points from the line in the third, finishing off the sweep with a 25-16 win.
Lakin Smith came up with her second momentum-swinging service run of the match in the final set as she took the line with her team holding a narrow 11-8 edge after a Bradford service error.
She then won the next three points to cushion the lead to six, as Sadowski and Cate Gregory each came up with kills during the run.
Sadowski had a three-point run of her own later in the set behind an ace, while Hannah Ray finished the match off with a pair of service points.
The first of which was won on a kill by Taylor Smith, while Donahue came up with a kill to secure the match-clinching point and send DuBois on to the PIAA playoffs.
DuBois will now take on the runner-up out of the WPIAL (District 7) in the opening round of the PIAA Class 3A tournament Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
“This will be the third year in a row we’ve faced a team from that district (WPIAL), so they know exactly what they’re getting in to when it comes to the level of play they have to bring to the court.”