Bishop Carroll Catholic reached the District 6 Class A volleyball finals by knocking off top-seeded Bellwood-Antis in Saturday's semifinals.
While that was big, it wasn't as big as what the fifth-seeded Lady Huskies faced on the other side of the net at the Altoona Fieldhouse in unbeaten and second-seeded Penns Manor.
The Lady Comets, who ousted Bishop Guilfoyle in a four-set semifinal, had height and power at nearly every position, and BC just didn't have a solution for that problem.
Powered by Jen Knezovich, Emma Myers and Krista Gillo, PM won the net battle and held off BC rallies to win the district title in straight sets, 25-18, 25-22, 25-21.
"I think my team was a little bit intimidated by what Penns Manor had to bring in," BC coach Joe Skura said. "Single-A volleyball in District 6 is absolutely tremendous. They outsized us, but I think both of my middles had the heart to make up for the size we didn't have."
"Bishop Carroll runs a single blocker," PM coach Erika Talmadge said, "and so if we're setting from antenna to antenna and making them have to chase, we're bound to create holes for ourselves. They played very, very strong against us, but I felt like if we got good passing and we got a chance to get all three of our hitters in the front line and taking swings, we would wear them down."
BC (16-6) trailed by only two points, 16-14, in the first set, but Penns Manor pulled away and went on a 9-4 run down the stretch.
In the second set, PM led 16-9 when the Lady Huskies started to mount a comeback. A block by Sarah Gomish made it 16-11 and, later, Gomish knocked down one of her 20 kills to make it 19-15.
BC came back to within two, 23-21, but the Lady Comets went on a run and closed it out with Knezovich and Gillo combining for a block of Gomish.
Gomish was dominant early in the third set. BC charged out to an 8-1 lead, and Gomish had five kills in that stretch. But, PM started pecking its way back, tying the score at 16-16 on Caitlyn Bence kill. BC freshman Ellie Yahner, who had 17 kills, kept BC going in that stretch with her play at the net.
PM (19-0) never gave up the lead from there, and it finished off the final point with a kill by Kaeli Smith.
"I'm just so excited for these kids," Talmadge said. "They've worked so hard, and every day there is so much enthusiasm for the game. I'm just thrilled they got a chance to win this."
Skura, whose team finished with a 16-6 record, was happy with how his team played in a 25-21, 14-25, 25-23, 25-18 win over B-A (20-1).
"I'm honestly still the proudest coach in the world that we got here," Skura said. "We all feel that we didn't finish the job at the end. But, at the end of the day, this is the first time Bishop Carroll has made it to the district championship.
"I thought we were right with Penns Manor. We made too many unforced errors. They're a great team. They're a great program. Erika is like a phenom coach. She knows what she's talking about."
PM reached the finals with a 26-28, 25-10, 25-13, 25-18 win over the Lady Marauders (15-5), who were led by Annie Dombrowski (10 kills, 17 digs), Lindsie Welteroth (nine kills, 15 digs) and Logan McIntosh (17 digs).
"That was an interesting game," said Talmadge, whose team will play the District 7 fourth-placer Tuesday. "Not being in this situation before, it seemed like we were tight. When we went to the second game, we made them play a little bit more of our style of game."
The Lady Huskies will also look forward to the state tournament. They'll play District 5 champion North Star on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
"I coached with Leah [Montgomery] at Penn Cambria, and we both get to go to states," Skura said. "I think the girls are really looking forward to having another practice and to keep going."
BISHOP CARROLL: Przybys 5, Yahner 9, Gomish 7, Gueguen 1, Bender 1, Woomer 6, Kwisnek 2.
Records: Bishop Carroll (16-6); Penns Manor (19-0).
BISHOP GUILFOYLE: Patterson 7, Welteroth 6, Dombrowski 4, Potopa 4, McIntosh 3, Baughman 3
Record: Bishop Guilfoyle (15-5)