CANONSBURG – These are the kind of matches that fills the gym, stokes excitement and produces ulcers in the coaches.
Baldwin, the No. 3 volleyball team in the WPIAL, came to Canon-McMillan’s gymnasium Tuesday looking for separation from the pesky Big Macs in the Section 2 race in Class 4A.
Canon-McMillan, ranked No. 4, was still smarting from a loss to the Highlanders in an earlier meeting. The Big Macs were looking for a second bite of the apple.
Both teams entered the match with 9-1 records in the section. In the last meeting, the match lasted five sets. And there was every expectation that this one would last that long, too.
But it didn’t.
Behind the powerful hits of outside hitter Allison Murray and the smooth play of middle Ally Schenk, Baldwin defeated Canon-McMillan, 3-1, with scores of 25-20, 17-25, 25-18 and 25-23.
Both teams have clinched postseason berth with three section matches remaining.
“This loss doesn’t put us out,” said Canon-McMillan head coach Sheila Mitchell. “Our girls just need to turn it around. We lost to them before and came back and hadn’t lost since (this match). We can bounce back. It will just take some extra preparation over the next three games.”
In the fourth and deciding set, Canon-McMillan led 22-21 after winning five of the last six points. But the Highlanders won three of the next four points for a 24-23 lead, then put the Big Macs away with the game-winner.
“We beat them at Baldwin in five sets and this one was a really great match,” said Highlanders head coach Chris Kelly. “We knew that when we play Canon-Mac, they are going to play really good defense. They fight for every point and it’s really hard for us to put the ball on the floor. Coming into this match, we just felt we had to mix up our shots. When we had the chance to tip a shot here or there just to keep them off balance, we did. That’s how good they are on defense.”
Baldwin jumped to an 11-6 lead in the first match on the way to a 25-20 win. Canon-McMillan got to within two points before Baldwin got the final three points.
An early run produced a 14-9 lead for Canon-McMillan that turned into a 25-17 win. But Baldwin took the momentum back with a 25-18 win in the third set.
Sam Parker had 18 digs and 10 kills for C-M. Katie Weston had 36 digs, Jenna Vogen 10 kills and Morgan Galligan 11 digs and 25 assists.
Murray had 17 kills and Schenk 24 digs for Baldwin.