Carota’s 21 kills not Enough; UPJ volleyball falls in PSAC Quarters

Noelle Carota's match-high 21 kills weren't enough to push UPJ past Cal in the PSAC quarters Tuesday (Photo courtesy: Ali Single/Pitt-Johnstown).

JOHNSTOWN -- Noelle Carota’s match-high 21 kills led three Pitt-Johnstown players who finished in double figures in kills, but fifth-seeded California (PA) rallied from a 2-sets-to-1 deficit with a 15-8 win in the fifth set to down the fourth-seeded Mountain Cats in Tuesday’s PSAC Volleyball Quarterfinals in the Sports Center. Pitt-Johsntown fell to 18-13.

California (PA) climbed out to a 13-8 lead to begin the match on a Sarah Benson kill and a Pitt-Johnstown service error. The Vulcans held the lead the rest of the way to the 25-18 win. The Mountain Cats cut it to 14-11, but the Vulcans pushed it out to 21 14 on an attack error, before closing out the set on two more Pitt-Johnstown errors.

In the second set, Pitt-Johnstown fell behind by three early, before knotting it at eight on a Caitlin Vrabel kill. The Mountain Cats went on to outscore California (PA) 17-7 to even the match at one set apiece. Two more kills by Vrabel gave Pitt-Johnstown its first lead of the match at 11-9 and sparked a 10-3 run, capped by Carota’s kill. The Mountain Cats then increased it to 22-15 and got a kill from Carota and a Vulcans’ attack error to finish the 25-16 win.

Tina Bellhy’s kill put California (PA) in front 10-6 in the third set, but Pitt-Johnstown kept it close and used a 7-2 spurt to regain the lead. Two Carota kills and a California (PA) attack error made it 16-15 before a combined block from Vrabel and J.C. Longeville gave the Mountain Cats a 19-16 advantage. The Vulcans narrowed it to 24-23 on Emily Bucklin and Lois von Schaik’s block, but Carota’s 15th kill of the match wrapped-up the 25-23 Mountain Cat win.

Kinlee Whited’s service ace, followed by an attack error helped Pitt-Johnstown jump out to a 9-4 fourth set lead. The Vulcans tied it at 11 on a Rachel Priore/Bellhy block, but the Mountain Cats scored the next four points, including a pair of kills from Vrabel, to get the lead back. California (PA) did not go away and got a service ace from Marley Goff to regain the lead 18-17. Priore’s kill put the Vulcans up 23-20, but three straight Pitt-Johnstown points tied it again. However, Shelby Alloway’s kill and a Mountain Cat attack error lifted California (PA) to a 25-23 victory and forced a fifth set.

In the fifth and deciding set, California (PA) jumped in front 7-4 on Maddie McGee’s ace. Pitt-Johnstown narrowed it to 9-8 on Vrabel’s kill and a bad set by the Vulcans, but California (PA) scored the final six points to complete the 15-8 win and seal the match on von Schaik and Bellhy’s block.

Carota had a match-high 21 kills, 19 digs, and four services aces to lead Pitt-Johnstown. Vrabel finished with 17 kills, while Maura Brehl had 13 kills and 14 digs. The Mountain Cats also got six kills and three blocks from Anna Johns.

Longeville’s 54 set assists tied for match-high, and Erin Carmody chipped-in 14 digs for Pitt-Johnstown.

California (PA), which improved to 20-11, was led by Priore’s 17 kills and 11 digs. Von Schaik had 14 kills and seven blocks and McGee tallied 14 kills and seven digs.

California (PA) advances to take on top-seeded Gannon in Friday’s PSAC Semifinals at 7:30 p.m. at the Hammerill Center in Erie. The Golden Knights swept eighth-seeded East Stroudsburg 25-22. 25-17, 25-15 in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.

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