YATESVILLE — Pittston Area head coach Dani McAndrew made a statment following Monday night’s three-set loss to North Pocono.
McAndrew sent a group message to her team following the loss, and it appears the team heard her loud and clear.
Portia Weidlich had a team-high 16 kills, freshman Emma Coles was stellar in the back row, and Pittston Area picked up a much-needed victory, 3-1, over Berwick Wednesday in Wyoming Valley Conference girls volleyball play.
Set scores were 25-22, 25-21, 19-25 and 25-22. The victory helps Pittston Area (6-5) keep pace with Western Wayne for the final playoff spot in Class 3A, while the setback drops Berwick to 8-3.
“I told our girls that we had to start believing that we aren’t in that losing culture that we once were as a program,” McAndrew said. “This is my fifth year, and it took us this long to build the program that we are today. And we got back to working on our game, especially with our serves. This was an important game, and it keeps our playoff hopes alive.”
Pittston Area was down eight (16-8) in the opening set, and had a total of 16 errors. Yet, the Patriots just hung around.
Liz Charney hit spots. Kirsten Durling had timely one-overs. Weidlich found the middle of the court. Coles dug ball after ball toward the front.
Put it all together, and all of a sudden, that set-changing run. Pittston Area used a 17-6 advantage, including a 7-1 spurt, scoring the last four points of the first on Emily O’Brien’s serve.
Again, the Patriots needed a spark in the second.
Down 14-11, enter Weidlich. The junior killed four straight balls with Durling firing darts from the back row as Pittston again used a 14-7 run to close the set.
“We needed this game. This was like a playoff game for us,” Weidlich said. “That loss to North Pocono hurt, but that fueled our fire. That re-focused us, and I am so proud of this team because these girls came ready to play. I love these girls. Now, we have to keep it going the rest of our season.”
The real game-changer? That happened in the fourth set.
With Berwick gaining momentum, and leading 18-17, O’Brien sent an impressive free-ball heave from behind her own service line. Somehow, the ball narrowly missed the blue tarp above the court and floated toward the back-left corner on the Bulldogs’ side where no one was standing.
From that point forward, Pittston Area outscored Berwick 7-2 to seal the victory.
“What was really great about tonight is everyone stepped up,” McAndrew said. “And it just wasn’t one person carrying the team. It was an entire group effort – right down to the bench. Liz was hitting spots on the court that I didn’t even know existed, and Emma really did a nice job digging those balls forward. This is a team win.”
A total of nine attack errors and two service miscues hurt the Bulldogs’ changes of a comeback in the fourth.
Charney finished with 10 kills, while Coles added 18 digs. Durling finished with 33 assists for Pittston Area while Damaris Ayala added 35 assists for Berwick.
Wyoming Area will travel to North Pocono Tuesday, Oct. 11, while Pittston Area will travel to MMI Prep.