Canon-Mac pushed to limit, falls in volleyball playoffs
CANONSBURG – With an undefeated record in section play and a roster featuring six senior standouts, the Canon-McMillan girls volleyball team looked destined to not repeat the Big Macs’ first round exit in last year’s WPIAL playoffs.
Despite a relentless effort and five intense sets, Canon-McMillan lost in the first round to Penn-Trafford Wednesday night at home, 3-2.
The fifth match was a replica of the previous four with the Big Macs using a strong frontline to combat the Warriors’ unpredictable style of play. Penn-Trafford used its outside hitters to fire shot after shot into the backend of the court; taking the final set 15-11 and advancing to face Shaler in the second round.
Canon-McMillan did not lose without a strong fight. Senior defensive specialist Olivia Lorusso had a dominating match, volleying the strong blocks by the Warriors’ frontline and spiking several perfect sets by senior center Miranda Weston.
As Penn-Trafford celebrated the upset win at midcourt, the Big Macs were in tears as a lengthy playoff run was cut short by the road team.
“There’s nothing you can do,” Canon-McMillan head coach Sheila Mitchell said. “These girls took the game to five, that’s what the sport is all about. It’s not about winning in three and going home. It’s about the battle in front of the net. I just told them, they fought for every point in every match of every game this season. They have nothing to hang their heads about.”
The Big Macs (13-2) trailed early in the match with a 25-19 loss in the first set but fired back in the second with strong play from junior outside hitter McKenzie Monaghan, who added several kills off the bench. Lorusso led the charge as Canon-McMillan countered volley after volley. The third set has summed up the Big Macs’ season, which finished in a thrilling 29-27 win.
Several lead changes ended when senior middle hitter Kerrigan Robinson recorded back-to-back kills to give the Big Macs the lead.
Penn-Trafford did not quit by countering strong blocks by Lorusso and Weston. The continuing effort by the young Warriors squad helped them take the final two sets of the match.
“I have said it from the beginning and to everyone I have talked to, this team can battle back,” Mitchell said. “When we get down a couple of points, I get kind of nervous but I shouldn’t. I know this team has the heart and the determination. They’re special at what they do. It’s amazing.”
Penn-Trafford pulled the stunning upset with a roster of two freshmen and eight juniors leading the way, including the strong play of outside hitter Emma Mohl. Mohl was critical in combatting the Big Macs’ blocking attempts; firing shots behind Lorusso and junior center Kathleen Davey – Canon-McMillan’s two strongest players on defense. The Warriors move on to face Shaler Tuesday at a yet to be determined location.
“We stayed in serve-receive for a few points too long,” Mitchell said. “They kept going outside and (the server) was switching it up. We weren’t sure what to do or what to take. We adjusted as much as possible. We got a lot of them but got they got a few through.”