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MECHANICSBURG — The Mechanicsburg Wildcats volleyball team upset previously unbeaten Hershey by winning the final three games at Mechanicsburg Monday night by scores of 17-25, 25-15, 25-21 and 25-22.
The win moves Mechanicsburg into a second place tie with the Trojans, with both teams sitting at 6-1 in the Keystone Division race, a half-game behind unbeaten Lower Dauphin. The Trojans play Lower Dauphin tonight.
“This was a great team win for us,” said Wildcat coach Chris Fabian. “We have been trying to get the girls to play through every point to the end and try to take advantage of the momentum and their opponent’s mistakes. You just don’t know what to expect — you have to make plays and carry the momentum.”
Mechanicsburg (7-1, 6-1 Keystone) struggled throughout game one trying to string points together and keeping the ball in play. They gave away six points on wide, long, or net serves plus a few double hits and poor bumps, and the Trojans took advantage in game one.
Hershey led 7-4 and 9-6 behind the hitting of Allie Gemerek and Julieann Stanley, a 2013 Mid Penn All-Star. The ‘Cats rallied as Mikaela Calcara and Cassidy Krnjaic got several points and the ‘Cats went ahead 12-11. From that point, the Trojans outscored the home team 14-5 to take the first game. The majority of the points were Wildcat mistakes.
Mechanicsburg jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never trailed in the second game. Hershey got within two points twice at 4-2 and 6-4 as the ‘Cats found Allyson Fea in the middle and she took the game from there. Fea had five kills and four blocks, The key for the ‘Cats was their ability to keep balls in play and get a hit on the ball and let someone else make a play. They gained momentum early and never let up.
Brooke Serina, the senior libero, was instrumental at keeping balls in play and keeping the play alive. Kendall Bortner and Lindsay Brock were also key factors in the win as the ‘Cats kept their lead in the 7-10 point range.
The two teams went back and forth in game three until Heston Cowoski stepped to the service line. The ‘Cats were trailing 3-1 and when she stepped off the line the ‘Cats were ahead 8-3. Hershey rallied behind the service of Kathryn Conklin and Hannah Ferrara to take a 12-11 lead.
Mechanicsburg’s Brock downed one and then stepped to the service line for two points and the ‘Cats led 16-13.
Krnjaic had two aces late in the game and Calcara came up with a big block on the final point. The Wildcats had a 2-1 lead and had the momentum. Hershey helped out with five serves in the net or long in the final ten points.
Hershey again fell behind in game four as the home team scored the first three points. They extended the lead to 9-5 behind Fea and Brock, forcing Hershey coach John Zitka to take a time out. Hershey responded to his words and rallied to tie the game at 10, 11, and 12. The ‘Cats took a two-point lead but turned around and gave it right back, leading to a 14-14 tie.
Each team scored a few points but the Trojans were making the mistakes and allowed the ‘Cats to keep the lead. Mechanicsburg got a kill from Brock at 23-20 and a block from Krnjaic to lead 24-22. Serina took a set and fired a shot at the floor from the back line that found space to set off a celebration for the Wildcats.
“Allyson has really been playing well for us when we can get the set where she is comfortable,” said Fabian. “She is still learning how to adjust on a bad set or not in her wheelhouse. She does well at blocking around the net and it will be nice to have her for another year. Brooke Serina, our libero, has done a wonderful job at that position and we have had some positive senior leadership. We are looking for a big battle royale until the end with the three teams at the top. We still have each of them again.”