Greensburg Central Catholic senior Shannon Hurley experienced the phenomenon of deja vu when the Centurions played Bishop Canevin in the WPIAL Class A title match Saturday at Chartiers Valley High School.
Fortunately for her, the story had a different ending.
"I played here my freshman year," said Hurley, who collected a silver medal that night after the Centurions lost to West Shamokin in the title match. "That experience helped me a lot. I was more comfortable tonight. I knew what was coming. I was ready for this game."
She certainly was.
Hurley, a 6-foot senior outside hitter who has committed to Winthrop University in South Carolina, recorded a match-high 15 kills, as Greensburg Central Catholic swept Bishop Canevin, 3-0, to claim its first WPIAL title.
"It feels so good," said Centurions coach Heather Meyer, who found it tough to hold back the tears of joy. "I'm getting a little emotional. The girls worked so hard all year to reach this goal. We can finally celebrate a WPIAL title."
It was the third time in six years that Meyer has led a Centurions squad to the WPIAL title match.
"I remember putting the silver around Shannon's neck," Meyer said. "It was much more enjoyable to put a gold medal around her neck."
Hurley's teammate Ashley Scalise, 6-0 senior middle hitter, also remembers the 2009 title appearance.
"I remember watching that match and thinking how great it would be to play in a championship match," said Scalise, who recorded six kills, five solo blocks, and combined with a teammate on 11 other blocks. "Tonight I got that chance and it was a great experience."
Greensburg Central was one of 20 teams in the Class A bracket. The Centurions won the Section 1-A title and were No. 1 in the WPIAL rankings all season. They faced four opponents and swept all four in three sets: Northgate in the first round, Chartiers-Houston in the quarterfinals, West Shamokin in the semifinals and Bishop Canevin in the title match.
"We have a lot of talent on this team and we worked very hard in practice," said Hurley. "We stepped it up at the end of the season with the WPIAL title as our goal. We are so happy to reach that goal."
Bishop Canevin, the No. 3 seed, was making its second title appearance in three years. The Crusaders lost to Frazier in the 2010 title match.
"We knew they were the No. 1 team. We knew they had big hitters," Bishop Canevin coach Kevin Walters said. "Our defense broke down a little bit, but we gave it everything we had."
Greensburg Central posted a 25-19 victory in the first set, then recorded back-to-back 25-21 victories in the next two sets.
"It's amazing," said Centurions sophomore Leah Bisignani, when asked for her feelings after accepting her gold medal. "I can't even put it into words. It's such an incredible experience."
Bisignani recorded six kills, four solo blocks, and combined with a teammate on 10 other blocks. Senior Emma Dickson had reached an individual best with 10 kills. Senior Alexa Kacin led the defense with 13 digs and 20 serve receptions. Katie Hickie had 18 service points.
"The girls worked so hard as a team," Meyer said. "That was evident when looking at the final stats. They all deserve credit for the title. They stayed together, they hung together, and they won together."
The next goal for Meyer and her squad is to win a PIAA title. The PIAA tournament opened Tuesday and Greensburg Central Catholic swept District 9 runner-up Port Allegany, 3-0. The Centurions will face Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, the WPIAL's fourth-place finisher, in the quarterfinals .
"We're really exited about playing in the state tournament," Hurley said. "We have to focus and play better than we did today to win a state title."
Greensburg CC finished the regular season ranked No. 2 in the state. Last year's PIAA runner-up, Clarion, is No. 1. Both teams are in the lower half of the bracket, which means Greensburg Central and Clarion could meet in the semifinals.
"Absolutely," said Hurley, when asked about the possible matchup with Clarion in the state semifinals "I really think it's unfair to have us in the same half of the bracket."
Meyer is more concerned with the Centurions performance.
"I worry more about my team than others," said Meyer, when asked about the state tournament and possible match-up with Clarion. "If the girls play their game, they are capable."