GCC gets off canvas, rallies past California into WPIAL volleyball finals

Tuesday, November 2, 2021 | 10:44 PM

California had No. 3 Greensburg Central Catholic on the ropes Tuesday in the WPIAL Class A girls volleyball semifinals at Norwin.

The seventh-seeded Trojans, fresh off their upset of No. 2 Mapletown, were set to deliver the knockout blow, but the Centurions wouldn’t let it happen.

It was like they flipped on a light switch. After playing on its heels in the first two games, GCC showed its mettle and rallied for a 3-2 win.

After California grabbed a 2-0 lead by winning the first two games 25-22 and 25-17, GCC assistant coach Erin Salas called the team and gave a wake-up call.

“We started slowly, “said Salas, acting as coach while head coach Angela Komoroski was away on her honeymoon. “We weren’t playing our game, and we needed to pick it up.”

In the third game, the Centurions started clicking as seniors Rebecca Hess, Grace Petnuch and Isabella Guerrieri started dominating the net.

“In the first two sets, we weren’t playing like we normally do,” Hess said. “We were slow and skittish. Before the third set, our coach told us we had to start playing like we normally do. We finally started to fight.

“We started talking more. It was something we weren’t doing in the first two games. We were playing scared.”

The Centurions (16-3) rallied from an early 5-1 deficit and caught California, 8-8, on three consecutive kills by Hess.

California (12-7) reclaimed a 14-12 lead before the Centurions went on a 13-2 run to close out the win, 25-16 on a kill by Petnuch.

“We jumped on them in the first two games, but we didn’t take advantage of it.” California coach Renee Pascoe said. “We saw them crying after the second game. I told the girls before Game 3 we had to jump on them, and we may get them down. But it didn’t go our way.”

In Game 4, it was Greensburg Central Catholic’s turn to up the heat, rolling to a 25-14 victory setting up an exciting winner-take-all Game 5.

“I told them what we needed to do and what they weren’t doing,” Salas said. “They got it together and they played excellent.”

California led 8-7 after a kill by Tayla Pascoe, but GCC won the next five points on a block and a kill by Petnuch and a dink by sophomore Emily Hess for a 12-8 lead.

A kill by senior Julia Kratzenberg and a game-winning kill by Rebecca Hess finished off the Trojans, 15-13, and sent the Centurions back to the finals at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Robert Morris against No. 1 seed Bishop Canevin.

“They were hitting the ball much better, and we were not,” Pascoe said. “They did everything they needed to do.”

Salas said the she expects Komoroski will be back for the finals.

Bishop Canevin will be shooting for its fifth consecutive title and seventh in the past 10 years. GCC won the other three (2012, 2014 and 2016).

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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