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In a turnaround season, Eagles show that the future is bright after competitive setback to Union City in District 10 quarterfinals

Youngsville’s Mallory Sherrard stretches to reach the ball during the second set of a District 10 Class 1A quarterfinal playoff volleyball match against Union City at General McLane High School, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. The Bears defeated the Eagles, 3-1, to move on to the semifinals.

EDINBORO, Pa. –Union City showed the type of mettle that has made it one of the top volleyball teams in District 10 during a Class 1A quarterfinal playoff match against Youngsville Thursday.

Trailing by 10 and facing the prospect of a fifth set, the Bears rallied to win the set and advance to the semifinals with a 25-13, 20-25, 25-11 and 25-21 win over the Eagles at General McLane High School.

To Youngsville coach Vicky Montecalvo, the match showed both how far her team has come, and what they need to do to take the next step as a program.

“We’re not used to playing at this level yet,” she said. “But the culture has changed. We’re setting the limit high now.”

To see what the next step is, the Eagles (8-8) need only to look at their opponent from Thursday. Two years ago, the Bears were 5-11. Last season they finished 8-7 with a 3-1 loss in the D-10 quarterfinals.

Youngsville’s Andrea Sveda (20) puts down a kill past Union City’s Eliza Reynolds (6) during the third set of their District 10 Class 1A quarterfinal playoff match at General McLane High School, Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. Sveda finished with 10 kills, but Reynolds and the Bears advanced to the semifinals with a 3-1 win

Youngsville finished 6-9 a year ago, and 8-8 this year with a 3-1 loss in the D-10 quarterfinals. The Eagles, while losing key players, will return a core group next year with lots of experience under its belt.

“We’re definitely a young team,” Montecalvo said. “But we’re clicking and picking it up.”

The youth showed early against a senior-laden Union City team.

Amber Evans served an ace for the first point of the match, but the Bears answered with a 9-0 run. Six of the nine points came on unforced errors.

“It was 100 percent just mental mistakes,” Montecalvo said.

The Eagles gathered themselves put together a run of their own. Andrea Sveda and Kamryn Weissinger had consecutive kills. Then Sveda and Ellie Bojaczko had back-to-back blocks before Sveda and Weissinger teamed up for a block to cut the lead to 9-6.

Undaunted, the Bears answered with a 7-0 run to go up 16-6. The Eagles didn’t allow anymore big runs, but couldn’t string enough points together to close the gap and Union City took the first set.

The second set was much more even. The set featured eight ties and six lead changes. While the first set was a game of runs, the most points either team was able to string together in the second was five-each team had one 5-0 run.

The final lead change went to the Eagles when they went up 19-18. From that point, Youngsville’s seniors took control. Evans had three heady kills from the setter spot where she redirected the ball away from Union City’s blockers and found floor. Mallory Sherrard also had a big kill as the Eagles came away with the 25-20 win.

It was the first time Youngsville had won a set against Union City since at least 2015.

“We took a set from them and that speaks volumes about how far we’ve come,” Montecalvo said.

The Bears raced out to a 7-2 lead to start the third. The Eagles got the next point to make it 7-3, but that was as close as they would get for the remainder of the set. Union City didn’t have a run longer than five points, but Youngsville got consecutive points only twice in the set.

The script flipped to start the fourth.

With a 3-2 lead, Youngsville went on a 9-0 run to push the advantage to 12-2. Freshman Kenzie Olewine accounted for four of the nine points.

Union City responded with a 5-0 run, and slowly began chipping away at the lead from there. The Bears got to within two at 15-13, but Sveda put down a kill and Sherrard served an ace to give the Eagles breathing room. Youngsville regained a five point advantage at 19-14.

Then the Eagles youth and playoff inexperience showed.

Youngsville scored just two points the rest of the way as Union City closed the match on an 11-2 run. Five of the 11 points came via unforced errors, while five more were mistakes on serve-receive that led to aces, including four of the final six points of the match.

“The first and third sets were just awful,” Montecalvo said. “But they kept coming back.”

Olewine finished with 15 service points, including three aces. Sveda had 10 kills, while Weissinger added five kills and Victoria Bull had four kills.

Union City moves on to a semifinal match with Saegertown. The Panthers swept Sharpsville in their quarterfinal. The Bears swept the Panthers when they met in the regular season.

Youngsville’s remarkable season comes to a close. While the Eagles say goodbye to seniors Evans, Sherrard, Bojaczko and Sam Wilson, they hope to use the lessons learned from those players as they prepare for next season.

“They mentored each other,” Montecalvo said. “It’s all mental now. It’s not a matter of not having the skill. I think we showed there’s no team we can’t hang with.”

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