West Xtra: Beaver overcomes key injury on the fly
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Beaver Area High School girls volleyball coach Charlene Horwatt had no problem remembering the date of the Bobcats' first-half match against visiting Blackhawk.
"It was September 20th," Horwatt said. "It was a huge match for us because we hadn't beaten Blackhawk since 2007."
Horwatt, in her 14th season as coach of the Bobcats, felt her team had a legitimate shot of beating Blackhawk because the Cougars were without senior middle hitter Kristen Ostach, who was lost for the season with a knee injury.
"With the team we had coming
But those feelings were in question when Haley Champ, a 5-foot-7 freshman middle hitter, went down with a torn ACL and meniscus before the match started.
"The injury occurred during warmups, with only six minutes before the match started," Horwatt said. "I didn't know how the girls would react to something that sudden. I was pleasantly surprised with the way they handled the situation."
The match went to five sets and Beaver pulled out a 3-2 victory. The win gave Beaver a leg up in the race for second place in Section 1-AA.
Defending WPIAL Class AA champion Hopewell leads the section standings with an 8-0 record. Beaver and Blackhawk are tied for second at 6-2, but the Bobcats would appear to have the easier road to end the regular season.
Beaver can clinch at least a tie for second place with a win tonight at Blackhawk. The Bobcats then close their section schedule Tuesday against winless Beaver Falls, while the Cougars must travel to first-place Hopewell.
"The first match with Blackhawk was very close," Horwatt said. "I expect the same in the rematch."
Leah Schaughency, a 5-4 senior setter/hitter and four-year starter, led the way in the Bobcats win against the Cougars.
"We actually had Leah playing in the middle, not an easy task for a girl her size," said Horwatt. "She can set and hit from the middle, left and right sides."
Schaughency and Kayla Bulat, a 5-7 sophomore middle hitter, were voted second team All-Section 1-AA last season.
"Kayla and Taylor Hineman have been our most consistent hitters," Horwatt said.
Hineman, a 5-6 freshman outside hitter, has made an early impression.
"We had two freshmen starting until Haley got hurt," Horwatt said.
Schaughency is one of three seniors in the starting lineup. The others are 5-3 defensive specialist Meghan Misorski and 5-9 serving specialist Jenny Jundrick.
"We use a 6-2 offense with Leah [Schaughency] sharing the setting duties with Allie Schmid," said Horwatt, referring to a 5-8 junior who also plays outside hitter. "The combo has worked very well thus far."
Horwatt is also impressed with the play of Emily Berry, a 5-2 junior libero.
"Emily is one of the top liberos in the WPIAL," Horwatt said. "Nothing happens without her. She's a big reason why we've been successful this year."
Also in the starting rotation is 5-9 junior outside/middle hitter Ave Palguta.