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JOHNSONBURG - The Elk County Catholic Lady Crusaders finished the regular season undefeated with a 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 21-25, 25-15) victory over Johnsonburg last night at Johnsonburg Area High School.
The Ramettes honored five seniors before the game: Cody Anderson, daughter of Carol Anderson, Paige DeCecchis, daughter of Ed and Lynell DeCecchis, Taylor Harvey, daughter of Kristene and the late John Harvey, Justis Myers, daughter of Justin and Kelly Myers and Tori Stanley, daughter of Dave and Annie Stanley.
"Those girls have been very dedicated to the program for the last four years, attending camps and open gyms," Johnsonburg coach Bill Shuey said. "They've been fun to be around. I'm going to miss them. We still have a couple more games hopefully."
Anderson also scored her 1,000th career kill with the Ramettes leading 18-17 in the second set.
"Cody also recognizes that in volleyball, getting that many kills doesn't happen by an individual; it took several good passing teams and setting teams," Shuey said. "She can hit the ball hard, she knows that accomplishment was shared by her teammates."
Johnsonburg started off strong and took a 5-0 lead in the opening set. An Anderson ace put the Ramettes up 8-3 before the Lady Crusaders rattled off six straight points to take a 9-8 lead. The teams then alternated ties at 10-all and 11-all before the Lady Crusaders scored two straight. Johnsonburg tied the set at 13-all and later took a 16-14 lead. Elk County Catholic rallied to tie the set at 18-all and then took a 21-18 lead. The Ramettes answered with three straight to tie the set at 21-all. A kill from Lexie Meholic put the Lady Crusaders up 22-21, then Johnsonburg was called for four hits on their side of the court for another ECC point. The Lady Crusaders were called for a double hit to make the margin 23-22. A kill from Emily Gregory and a Johnsonburg carry finished off the first set for Elk County Catholic at 25-22.
"It's nice to finally beat Johnsonburg. We haven't beat them down here in like four years," Elk County Catholic coach Diane Gies said. "At times, I think it was who wanted to lose more. Neither one of us played our best games, (but) we still gave each other a good match and practiced different things going into the playoffs. Hopefully, we both can be very successful in the postseason."
The Lady Crusaders led 9-6 to start the second set, which prompted a Johnsonburg timeout. The Ramettes rallied by scoring four of the next five points to tie the set at 10-all. The teams traded two points apiece to leave the set notched at 12-all and the teams also tied at 13-all, 14-all, 16-all and 17-all. Johnsonburg scored four of the next five points, capped by an Anderson kill to put the Ramettes ahead 21-19. Elk County Catholic answered with three straight to tie the set at 21-all, a run which included two consecutive Meholic kills. At 22-all, ECC pulled away with three of the last four points, a run which was culminated with another Meholic kill.
Elk County Catholic scored four of the first five points to take a 4-1 lead before the Ramettes rallied to tie the set at 6-all. A total of seven ties followed before the Ramettes took a 15-13 lead. Johnsonburg led throughout the remainder of the set to take it 25-21 and force a fourth set.
Gies said both teams made plenty of unforced mistakes.
"A lot of unforced errors both ways, very sloppy and uncharacteristic of both clubs," Gies said. "Hopefully, this is a one-time shot and we can both turn it around and make some noise next week."
Shuey agreed that the play was not great.
"I think we didn't come to play," Shuey said. "I'm not sure why. It's the last home game for some of these girls. I didn't see much intensity or enthusiasm. It's disappointing but we move on.
"I would like to see a lot more enthusiasm. We made a lot of mistakes, we didn't serve the ball. We made it very easy for our opponent. ECC hit the ball and did some good things. I didn't think it was good volleyball."
The Lady Crusaders grabbed the momentum in the fourth set and led 11-3 in the early going en route to finishing the match with a 25-15 fourth set victory.
Elk County Catholic has a bye in the first round of the District 9-A playoffs and will play on Thursday against either Otto-Eldred or Curwensville.
"We're fine-tuning some things, we get a first-round bye," Gies said. "We're theoretically off for a week. We can heal some nagging injuries and get some work done in practice and hopefully make some noise next week."
Johnsonburg travels to Cranberry for its first-round game in the playoffs next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
"I believe in these girls; they can do it," Shuey said.