LEAVITTSBURG—Cardinal coach Lisa Shirkey normally isn’t one for pregame motivational speeches, but she took the opportunity to address her players prior to Thursday’s sectional championship game against Pymatuning Valley at LaBrae High School.
The Huskies responded with a 25-16, 25-12, 25-15 sweep of the Lakers to improve to 17-6 on the year.
“I just talked to them about writing our own page. I wanted to go out and make a statement. I can say whatever I’m going to say but they’re the ones that are going to write their page and they have to decide what they want to put on that,” Shirkey said. “There’s not much I need to say to get them pumped up and get them mentally prepared for a match because they’ve been doing it all year.”
Cardinal actually trailed in the first set as the Huskies adjusted to the Lakers’ slower tempo offense. Once they tied the game at nine, the Huskies took control of the game and rolled to the 1-0 lead.
“We had to adjust our blocks because we’re used to running a more up-temp and they had some really high sets and our timing was off,” Shirkey said. “That was part of our issue, other than the fact that we gave them way too many points in the first set. Once we did that we just found ways to make plays happen.”
In the second set, Caitlyn Lechene recorded a kill to put the Huskies up 7-5 then she went on to serve five straight points. She finished the match with a team-high 10 points and also posted eight kills, three blocks and three aces.
Her clutch hitting in the second match was a key to Cardinal’s success.
“She’s got a great, quick hit on her,” Shirkey said. “She has some so far this year. I’m really proud of the job that she’s done with us.”
Pymatuning Valley jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third game but the Huskies rallied to tie it at seven and never looked back.
“We scrimmaged Chardon on Tuesday and had a really good practice on Wednesday, very up-tempo, very quick,” Shirkey said. “I think this was not what we were preparing for and that may have set us back. Good teams get the job done and that’s what we did.”
Seniors Kaitlin Bean and Alyssa Shirkey led the Huskies with 16 and 13 kills, respectively, and both scored eight points. Bean recorded eight digs and Shirkey had nine.
“I thought Kaitlin Bean did very well in the back row tonight,” Shirkey said. “She was all over the place tonight in the back row, which helped us. We were a little bit slow in the beginning of the match as far as covering.”
Hayley Adams contributed with nine points and two blocks and Megan Zeigler led the Huskies with 11 digs.
Maddie Bean, who finished with a team-high 32 sets, was exceptional in distributing the ball to the Husky hitters and also contributed with eight points and nine digs.
“It was a normal night for her,” Shirkey said. “She’s such a good setter that sometimes that gets overlooked because you’re just so used to it. She can put the ball where it needs to be; 99 times out of 100 she puts it where it needs to be.”
The Huskies will play Berkshire in the district semifinals at LaBrae on Monday at 7:00 p.m. The rivals have met twice this season with Cardinal winning both, 3-1 and 3-0.