Knock hard and long enough on the door of opportunity, and sooner or later it comes open with an answer. For Trinity, their triumphant style of play earned them their first ever PIAA Class 2A state volleyball championship against a formidable foe in Philipsburg-Osceola on Nov. 21 at Cumberland Valley High School.
In a tense battle pitting two big-hitting teams, the match came down to a few points in each of the four sets that ultimately determined the outcome in the Shamrocks’ favor. Given the ’Rocks won in four sets (25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 25-19), the match really hinged on 12 points out of 186 total. That’s a razor thin margin of victory, yet Trinity was just slightly better in every phase of the game – hitting, passing, setting, digging, serving and blocking.
The Mounties of Philipsburg-Osceola hadn’t lost a set all season (Trinity only lost one in a win against Palmyra), and the District 6 champ has a bona fide budding superstar in freshman outside hitter Reese Hazelton, who is not only an outstanding 6-foot spiker, but can dig, block and pass like a seasoned upperclassman. She drilled 26 kills and more impressively had 30 digs, which gave Trinity fits in their hitting game.
The Mounties did not lose this match with their play; Trinity won it with stellar play by the entire team. While Hazelton certainly has her kills, the ’Rocks dug many difficult spikes to keep rallies alive and put pressure on Philipsburg in the key points. After winning the all-important first set, Trinity dropped the second but bounced back in the third. In the fourth, Trinity was down 9-3, and after a timeout clawed their way even at 10-10. They fell down by four again but took the lead for good at 19-18, mainly on the back of senior hitter Gracie Britten, who had 17 kills, many in the fourth set’s crucial late going. It was the senior who took the stage in the match’s biggest moments and delivered crucial hits that doomed the Mounties in the end.
Arguably the match’s difference came down to Trinity’s ability to attack with four different hitters that Philipsburg was just not able to get a double block on. And how Trinity’s hitters eventually provided the winning margin was in large part due to their terrific setting game, led by sister duo of Jena and Jessica Minnick, who really did not flub one set the entire match.
“This was fun,” Gracie Britten said after the game. “It’s exhilarating…. This is it, this is the point. You are gonna get the kill, you’re gonna win the game,” she said about her game, match and state championship winning hit on the season’s final point.
Nobody this summer knew if there was even going to be a fall season of sports, given Covid-19 and its case rise throughout the state as autumn chilled. But all summer long, with temps in the upper 90s, if you drove by Trinity High School in Camp Hill and gave a glance out your window to the school’s south field, there was Trinity’s volleyball team playing doubles and queens in the torrid heat on many days.
Hard work pays off, and when Trinity gave a hard knock on opportunity’s door in the PIAA state final, the ’Rocks got the answer they were seeking when the door opened – a 2020 state championship triumph over a worthy foe that is worth remembering and savoring for a long time to come.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness