Greensburg Central Catholic girls volleyball coach Kate McCauley asked her players before the season what their expectations were.
When they told her they wanted to fill the shoes of the 2016 WPIAL and PIAA Class A champions, McCauley explained: “That wasn't what they should do. They didn't need to do that, but be their own team.”
Well, the 2017 team etched their mark on history Thursday by defeating Trinity Christian, 3-1, in a winner-take-all battle for the Section 4 title.
The teams split the first two games with GCC winning 25-14 and Trinity Christian winning 27-25.
But the Centurions (12-2) seized control early in Game 3 and pulled away for a 25-10 win and then continued their pressure in Game 4, winning 25-12 to seal the match.
Trinity Christian (11-3) won the first meeting, but McCauley said the team has made a turnaround since that match.
“We were a little worried how we would be since we were so young,” McCauley said. “But they brought it around for us and showed they could get to that first milestone. Since that first match against Trinity Christian, we haven't let anyone stand in our way.”
Trinity Christian coach Gene Larson said the Centurions are a totally different team from the first time the teams met.
“They've gotten a lot better,” Larson said. “They did a great job. They won all the rallies and No. 14 (Sarah Petnuch) and No. 11 (Abbey Kilkeary) were difference-makers.
“We had trouble controlling Petnuch, and I felt we'd do a better job on Kilkeary. We made too many mental mistakes, and they capitalized on all of them.”
McCauley said the difference in Games 3 and 4 was her players started having fun.
“Last year, we were all about having fun,” McCauley said. “I told this team they needed to be the same, but they act a little differently when it comes to fun.
“They needed to be controlled, and they need to have a purpose. We had a couple good blocks and a couple good kills, and they started to play smarter than harder which is something I stress.”
Petnuch had eight kills and six blocks, Kilkeary had seven kills and senior Maria Beer had 10 kills.
GCC also won the long rallies, which took the life out of the Falcons.
“It was more of a mental thing for us in Game 3,” Kilkeary said. “We came together as a team, and we really wanted it. We played together. This is a big deal for us to win the section because we're pretty much a new team.”
Petnuch added: “We were having fun and a positive mentality. We wanted the win.”
In Game 3, GCC was leading 12-8 when Elizabeth Colecchia started serving. When she was finished, GCC's lead was 20-8.
In Game, 4, libero Ruby Bickerton played solid in the middle and controlled the sets.
Greensburg Central Catholic will turn its attention to the WPIAL playoffs. Pairings will be announced Monday.