JOHNSONBURG – Johnsonburg volleyball opened the District 9 Class A volleyball playoffs with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-16, 25-18) victory over Cameron County in the first round Tuesday night at Johnsonburg Area High School.
The Ramettes opened the first set with a 7-3 lead but the Lady Raiders answered with three straight points off the serve of Brooke Penick. Johnsonburg would score three of the next four points to take a 10-7 lead but the Lady Raiders would eventually square the set at 13 off an ace which prompted a Johnsonburg timeout. The teams alternated the next four points to leave the set at 15-all. Johnsonburg made an error at the net to put Cameron County ahead and Penick served an ace to put the Lady Raiders ahead by two at 17-15. A kill from Johnsonburg’s Brittany Watts and an ace from Ramette senior Sarah Bevacqua tied the set at 17-all.
Bevacqua served for two more points for Johnsonburg to give the Ramettes an advantage. Olivia Guisto put down a kill for Cameron County and Kiesha Dornish did the same for Johnsonburg to put the lead to 20-18. Cameron County would add a pair of points which included the tying point coming on a net violation.
The Lady Raiders had a service error at 20-all but made up for it as Tylar Younkin put down a kill to make the score 21-all.
Cameron County had a service error and then hit the ball out to make the lead 23-21. Johnsonburg could not get a return over but a Chelsea Benson kill and an ace from the Ramettes closed out the first set, 25-22. Johnsonburg coach Bill Shuey said the Lady Raiders played well in the first set while the Ramettes struggled out of the gates.
“I thought we didn’t play as well but I thought Cameron County played well in the first set,” Shuey said. “They were hitting the ball, we were giving them free balls, we made a lot of errors in the first game. Then we started getting better in the second and the third. We missed a lot of serves, I thought, for the whole match. We got to clean that up, that’s for sure.”
Cameron County coach Julie Humble said the Lady Raiders had a strong start to the match.
“At the beginning, we started out strong,” Humble said. “Overall, we hustled. It was a good season.”
The second set continued the early trend of an evenly-played matchup as the teams were tied five times in the first 12 points. The Lady Raiders had taken an 8-6 lead but lost control of the set with a 7-0 run for the Ramettes. Cameron County started with a service error and then Watts hit an ace for Johnsonburg. Brianna Fabris put down a kill and the Ramettes also scored on a block to make it 10-8. Johnsonburg built the lead to 13-8 before a net violation on the Ramettes broke the run. Johnsonburg scored three more points after the net violation as Dornish had a pair of aces to extend the Ramette lead to 16-9.
The Lady Raiders scored four straight points to climb back in the set as the run was punctuated with an ace from Hayle Ramsey. Johnsonburg scored four straight points of its own as Katie Galsick had a pair of kills during the run. Benson had a kill and Fabris served an ace to make the margin 20-13. The Ramettes scored five of the last eight points to take a 2-0 lead with a 25-16 second-set win.
“I thought we started communicating better, we started moving with some commitment to the game,” Shuey said. “I just had a feeling in the first game that they were going through the motions.”
Humble felt the momentum started to go away after the first-set defeat.
“We lost the momentum and the energy dropped,” Humble said.
At 2-all in the third set, Johnsonburg scored four straight as Fabris had three straight service points. The Ramettes had built a 10-4 lead until Cameron County scored four straight points to draw closer at 10-8. The Lady Raiders were within two at one more point in the third set at 13-11 but four points from the Ramettes put the lead to six at 17-11. After Cameron County scored a pair of points, Johnsonburg rattled off a 6-0 run to take a commanding 10-point lead. Cameron County closed the set to five at 23-18 but the Ramettes were able to seal the deal with a 25-18 third-set win.
Humble said the Lady Raiders had a strong season this year.
“I’m proud of my girls, they worked hard this season,” Humble said. “This is the first time in several years that we have made the playoffs. The girls are pumped to be here.”
Ramsey had 15 service points, seven assists and 12 digs for Cameron County. Younkin had six kills, three digs and eight service points. Olivia Guisto finished with four kills, two service points, 14 digs and two blocks for Cameron County.
Johnsonburg will square off against No. 1 seed Port Allegany on the road at 6:30 p.m. in the second round of the District 9 Class A volleyball playoffs. The winner will earn a spot in the District Final Four on Saturday at St. Marys Area High School.
“Port’s a very good team,” Shuey said. “We cannot have so many unforced errors in a set and expect to win. We can’t miss those serves and we got to cover the court better.”