TYRONE – Despite the 7-6 record that State College brought into Tuesday’s District 6 Class AAA championship game, Altoona coach John Saboe knew all too well that it’s record was not a true indicator of its capabilities.
“We knew they were a decent team,” Saboe said. “We expected that. We planned for that. What we didn’t expect was what happened.”
The Little Lions proved their power once again as they defeated Altoona in straight sets, 25-18, 25-12, 25-14, to win their sixth straight district championship to advance to the PIAA playoffs.
Leading 9-8 in the first game, Altoona saw State College run off eight seven straight points to take a 16-9 advantage before Saboe called a timeout.
“The first game we had one rotation and lost five points,” Saboe said. “Those five points were the difference in game one. If we had played our way out of those five points it’s might have been a different story. It put us behind the eight ball.”
The 9-8 lead was the last time Altoona was ahead for the rest of the match, as the Little Lions jumped out to an 11-4 advantage in the second game that forced another Altoona timeout.
The Mountain Lions’ next two serves hit the net and missed far behind the back line as State College cruised to a 25-12 win and a 2-0 advantage.
“It is [easier playing ahead],” State College coach Kim-Li Kimel said. “We have been fortunate to have experiences coming from behind, playing ahead and close games. We have been successful in all of those situations, so we weren’t concerned about being in any given situation.”
Altoona made the third game competitive, as a Zach Over block brought it within three points at 17-14, but the Little Lions rattled off the last eight points of the game to clinch the title.
Josh Huber had 14 blocks and four kills for Altoona, while Brett Koelle had seven digs and four kills.
Huber, Kody Clawson and Tyler Wray will graduate for the Mountain Lions.
“I thought the kids had a pretty decent year,” Saboe said. “We have a core group of underclassmen that hopefully will be able to step up next year and get done what needs to get done.”
STATE COLLEGE: Christie 11, Thompson 11, Crawford 10, Cymbor 3, Demirci 3, Groves 3.
ALTOONA: D. Over 8, Clawson 3, Perehinec, Koelle, Huber, Borst.
Records: State College (8-6); Altoona (13-2).