Montour knocks off undefeated Plum in WPIAL Class 3A volleyball semifinals

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 | 9:47 PM

Going into the WPIAL Class 3A girls volleyball semifinals against unbeaten Plum, Montour knew it would have to lean on its diverse offense.

The Spartans did, serving well, scoring in a multitude of ways and going on big runs en route to a 3-1 victory to reach their second title match in four seasons.

“We talked to our team, and we said, ‘They’re an undefeated team, and we’ve tasted defeat and didn’t like it, but we understood it,’ ” Montour coach Mike Marchionda said. “The problem when you’re undefeated is you start to feel it a little bit that your season could end, and we started going at them hard a bit.”

The Spartans (16-1) won the first set 25-19 thanks to a strong performance from senior middle Alexandra Leise, who had a handful of blocks and more than five kills.

Plum (16-1) took the second set 25-19, leading by six points on two occasions.

Montour bounced back to win the third set 29-27, coming back from a 24-21 deficit.

The fourth set was controlled by Montour, as Plum didn’t manage to score more than back-to-back points until late. The Spartans prevailed 25-15.

“The first three, we were in it neck and neck. They served us really well, which put us in a tough position to create offense,” Plum coach Kelsey Bonk said. “That was a great team. They moved the ball around well, and when you can score that many points without swinging, that’s just creative. They played better than us tonight.”

Bonk’s team finished shy of playing in a WPIAL championship match for the first time in the 21st century but can build off its two playoff wins. The Mustangs will lose a significant senior class, which includes five starters, led by Pitt recruit Makayla Jackson.

“Even looking back at the last two years, if you would’ve told me we’d be undefeated until here I probably would’ve told you you were crazy,” Bonk said.

“Obviously we wish we would’ve made it one game further, but it was bound to happen eventually. I don’t think we can hang our heads on one loss. We had a great year.”

Marchionda’s team returns to the WPIAL title match and will play No. 4 Franklin Regional at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Chartiers Valley High School. The Panthers swept No. 1 Beaver on Wednesday night. It’s the second trip in the last four years to the championship for Montour, which fell in four sets to Knoch in 2017.

Last season, Montour played Franklin Regional in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs but was ousted in three sets.

Now the team is a year older after not losing anybody from last season.

“We kind of had a feeling we would play Franklin Regional,” Marchionda said. “They’re a great team, and they’re well-coached. We thought we hung with them last year. It is going to be a good final. The experience is huge because our two setters aren’t playing like sophomores right now. We’re playing really well and we have experience.”

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