Burkett’s big match leads Knoch volleyball into state semifinals

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Saturday, November 10, 2018 | 9:12 PM


HOLLIDAYSBURG — Skye Burkett was down on her confidence and felt like she didn’t perform well enough in Knoch’s last couple of matches, but a meeting with coach Diane Geist at practice Friday helped boost her morale.

“She told me that I’m an amazing volleyball player and that team needed me,” Burkett said. “She said to get it together and stay upbeat.”

With that advice in mind, Burkett went out on the court Saturday and put together a dynamic performance.

Burkett recorded a dozen kills and a trio of aces for Knoch in a 3-0 sweep of District 3’s Dover in the PIAA Class AAA volleyball quarterfinals at Hollidaysburg.

“It felt amazing,” Burkett said. “I just wanted to put everything away. That was my goal. I just brought it all today, I guess.”

The Knights (24-0) are one match away from a chance to defend their PIAA title. They advanced to play District 10 champion Warren in the state semifinals Tuesday at a site and time to be announced. Dover finished 16-8.

Burkett, a junior outside hitter, set the tone in the first set with six kills to pace the Knights to a 25-12 victory. She also had a pair of aces with her heavy jump serves. She did everything from smashing the ball down from the outside, to getting cross court kills, to executing soft tips over blockers.

“I could tell right after she had her first kill that it was going to be Skye’s game,” Knoch outside hitter Hannah Rowe said. “I could feel it, and I told her to keep doing what she was doing because she was hitting smart. She would pound a couple and then lay one in there when they were not expecting it.”

Rowe had six kills and two blocks, and Kennedy Christy had six kills and one block.

Christy and Rowe have been causing problems for opponents all season, and a strong performance from Burkett makes the Knights more difficult to defend.

“Skye was making a lot of really athletic plays,” Geist said. “Some of the sets were outside the antenna, and she was able to pull them in and actually get kills out of them. She really had it together. I’m just so happy to see her have a really good game tonight.”

Knoch was in a back-and-forth second set but got another pancake dig at a critical moment. With the score tied 22-22, Kenzie Kerkan and Kerrie Fitzpatrick both dove on the floor, combining to keep the ball alive in a sequence during which the Knights scrambled to get the ball back across the net three times. They eventually won the point on a Dover hitting error.

The combination pancake dig means the team will be getting more pancakes courtesy of Geist before practice next week.

Christy had a kill over the middle to finish a 25-22 win for the Knights in the second. Burkett had five kills, a block and an ace in the second.

Knoch led most of the way in the third and closed the match with a 25-14 win. Kerkan served an ace for match point.

“The second set was a little scary,” Geist said. “I asked the team for a really good second game, because I knew that was going to happen. Every time we put up a big score in the first game, we seem to have a letdown in the second. It was a little rough, but they got it together and they finished it off like they always seem to do. Then we played a really good third set.”

Emma Davis, the York-Adams league Division I player of the year, led Dover with eight kills and two aces.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.

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