Emotional Bishop Canevin beats GCC to win 5th consecutive WPIAL Class A volleyball title

Saturday, November 6, 2021 | 5:59 PM

A year ago, Angela Wyman stepped into some big shoes, and she’s been walking the sideline since.

Different coach, same result for the Bishop Canevin girls volleyball team.

“It’s been a transition year, a hard year, an emotional year,” Wyman said Saturday after top-seeded Bishop Canevin rallied from a first-set loss to defeat No. 3 Greensburg Central Catholic, 3-1, in the WPIAL Class A championship match at UPMC Events Center for its fifth consecutive title.

“A kind of changing-of-the-guard,” Wyman said.

No matter, the Crusaders haven’t missed a beat.

Wyman, who previously served as a Bishop Canevin assistant, took over the program last season when former longtime coach Kevin Walters died Nov. 6, 2020. She went on to guide the Crusaders to a 3-0 victory over GCC in the WPIAL Class A championship match.

“Today is one year to the day when Kevin passed away,” an emotional Wyman said. “We felt he was here with us, and we just took it to them. Now we look forward to states, and we’ll see what we can do there.”

Both teams entered the match having secured a berth in the PIAA playoffs, beginning Tuesday at Cumberland Valley in District 3.

Olivia Thomas registered 13 kills, and Kyla Hartoyo added 10 to lead Bishop Canevin (24-1), whose only loss was a 3-2 decision against Class 2A North Catholic during the regular season.

Sani Jones produced 33 assists for the Crusaders, who have combined with GCC for three PIAA championships in the past decade, two by the Centurions.

Rebecca Hess led GCC (14-4) with 12 kills.

“We’re both really good teams. We both put up a good fight,” said Hess’ senior teammate Isabella Guerrieri.

Bishop Canevin, which lost to eventual-champion Clarion in the 2020 PIAA semifinals with Wyman at the controls, seemed to brush off the first-set loss to GCC.

“We’ve had a slow start in our last three matches,” Wyman said. “I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case today, but they always want to make it interesting. We just weren’t ready to play.”

GCC took the first set in dominating fashion, winning, 25-15, after starting with a 7-0 run. But Bishop Canevin regrouped and led from start-to-finish en route to a 25-19 victory in the second.

The third set was a back-and-forth affair in which neither team led by more than two points until Bishop Canevin ran off six consecutive late to win, 25-21.

The Crusaders led by as many as six points in the fourth and held off the Centurions in the deciding set, 25-20, after GCC had closed within 23-20 on a kill by Hess, her third in a row.

“It’s been their way of getting their feet on the ground and ready to go,” Wyman said. “I wasn’t expecting to drop a whole set, but it lit a fire under their butts that they absolutely needed today. Kudos to Greensburg Central Catholic. They changed some of their defense, and we had to change up our offense a little bit to see what would work.”

Bishop Canevin dealt GCC a 3-0 setback during the teams’ only regular-season meeting.

Despite faltering after a fast start in their latest encounter, GCC coach Angela Grabb remained excited for another opportunity Tuesday. PIAA pairings will be announced Sunday.

“I really have a talented set of girls,” Grabb said. “There’s a lot of options I can do with them. They played up to the level of intensity that I expected, and I still think we’re going to do well at states.”

Grabb, a newlywed who missed a pair of earlier playoff matches while on her honeymoon, laughed at the notion of daydreaming about her big day.

“I got married on Oct. 30,” she said. “I remember when they asked me if I was interested in the coaching position, and I said, ‘You know I’m getting married in October, when the playoffs are going on?’ It was unfortunate I missed two of the games.”

In her absence, assistant Erin Salas led the team in WPIAL victories of 3-1 in the quarterfinals against No. 6 Our Lady of Sacred Heart and 3-2 in the semifinals against No. 7 California.

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