Consistent play boosts Wildcats

LEWISTOWN – Halifax had something Monday that Mifflin County didn’t, and it proved to be the difference in the Tri-Valley League volleyball match between the two.

The Wildcats were consistent, plain and simple, and that’s why they took a 3-1 victory home across the Susquehanna River.

After winning the first two sets, 25-12 and 25-18, Halifax stumbled as the Huskies won 25-20. But a lopsided fourth set dashed the home team’s hopes of a comeback, 25-14.

Where the Huskies could have won this one was the end of the second going into the third. Points came few and far between for the team in pink – Mifflin County was hosting its cancer awareness game – until a rally that began when Halifax was leading 14-7. But after closing the gap to four, the Wildcats opened it anew, playing better on the floor than the Huskies seemed able.

Another quick Mifflin County flurry late in the set gave the Huskies hope; at 22-16 the Wildcats went back to business.

The late play in that set showed the Huskies could play well, and that the visitors were vulnerable. Mifflin County took advantage of that in the third.

The Huskies opened the set they won with seven of the first eight points, and had two runs of four straight on the way to a 13-6 lead. But closes calls and misplayed balls hitting the floor allowed Halifax to catch up. Mifflin County led by seven twice more before the set ended, the last big lead ending with an exclamation point dotted by a Shania Teenie ace that seemed to say the Huskies were ready to put it away.

They didn’t – they won, but by a much closer margin – and then were put away themselves in the final.

“Thankfully we pulled that one out and ended up winning that one,” Mifflin County coach Jill Zeger said. “I switched a few things around on my starting lineup and moved a few positions, and that might have been enough to ignite them from the very beginning.”

Overall, the lack of communication was one factor that impacted Mifflin County on the floor. The other was a lack of confidence – even in trouble, Halifax played with poise, and it showed when the Wildcats worked their way out of the few jams they found themselves in.

“It’s like they flip a switch on or off,” Zeger said. “It’s either they choose to talk and work together as a team and have that more communal vibe, or they flip it off … and play as individuals.

“Tonight’s game did not show our best case of mental toughness. We got frazzled easily. Oftentimes that led to not passing the ball well. We had pockets where we were doing well in that sense, but other times we were fragmented.”

Blocking was a plus for the Huskies in the game; Bryn Ferguson had five and JoHanna Laub two. Kaitlyn Dreese, who blocked one, was the statistical leader overall with seven service points, 10 assists and 11 digs. Chloe Benner added eight digs.

Kierra Imler (three) and Hayley Hower (two) had the most aces. Anna Aurand had seven kills and Ferguson added five.

The JV team came out on top in its match, 2-0 (25-18, 25-22).

The real winner for the night was Central Pennsylvania Pink Connection, which picked up $580 from the various fundraisers sponsored by the team.