Caroline Grattan collected her second WPIAL gold medal Saturday night when Mt. Lebanon claimed the WPIAL Class AAA girls volleyball title against Fox Chapel at Chartiers Valley High School. But this one has special meaning for the Blue Devils senior.
"It was my freshman year and I was on the sidelines watching my sister Olivia," said Grattan, referring to Mt. Lebanon's 2009 title. "I loved every minute of it, but this title means so much more to me. I definitely worked harder for this one."
And this time, Grattan was the star, as she led the Blue Devils with 23 kills and 23 digs.
"Caroline is so prolific as an attacker," Mt. Lebanon coach Jeff Schilling said. "But she also does the little things. That's what makes her so valuable."
Fox Chapel traded points with Mt. Lebanon in the first set and pulled out a 25-21 victory.
"We had six or seven serving errors in the first set. That was the difference," Schilling said.
Mt. Lebanon eliminated its serving errors in the second set and rolled to a 25-13 victory. The third and fourth sets were also close, but the Blue Devils pulled out victories of 25-22 and 25-20 to complete the victory.
It was the sixth WPIAL title and third in six years for Mt. Lebanon, the No. 4 seed. Fox Chapel, the No. 3 seed, was making its first appearance in a WPIAL title match.
The only remaining defending champion was defeated, as No. 3 seed Mars upset top-seeded Hopewell in the Class AA title match. It was the first WPIAL title for the Planets, who shocked the Vikings by winning in straight sets.
"They played exceptionally well and we didn't play up to our expectations," Hopewell coach Terry Borkovic said. "That translates into us taking home the silver medal and they go home with the gold."
It was the fourth consecutive playoff match in which Mars swept its opponent. The Planets posted 3-0 victories against Kittanning, South Fayette and Ambridge to earn their first title berth.
"The seniors on this team were in seventh grade when I took over the program," Mars coach Dan Mountain said. "To watch them grow into WPIAL champions over the past six years is something special. And to win the title without losing a set is even more impressive."
Mountain's lineup features nine seniors, including 5-foot-9 outside hitter Abby Matusik, who led the Planets in kills in all four playoff matches. Matusik recorded 16 kills, and teammates Jaden Zimmer and Emily King contributed 14 and 10 kills, respectively.
Hopewell held a 10-9 lead in the first set, but Mars scored 11 of the next 14 points to take a 20-13 lead and eventually won, 25-21. The Planets were equally impressive in the next two sets, winning 25-18 and 25-17.
Top-seeded Greensburg Central Catholic claimed its first WPIAL title with a 25-19, 25-21, 25-21 sweep of No. 3 seed Bishop Canevin in the Class A championship match.
"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 trip to the finals for Meyer, who led Greensburg Central to the Class A title match in her first season in '07. The Centurions lost to Seton-LaSalle that year, then made a return trip to the finals in '09 and lost to West Shamokin.
The top four WPIAL finishers in Class A and Class AA advance to the PIAA championships, which begin Tuesday. The top three teams qualify in Class AAA, thus a consolation match for third place was held before the championship matches. North Allegheny claimed the third Class AAA berth with a 25-13, 25-13, 20-25, 26-24 win against Oakland Catholic.hsother