NEPA Sports Nation

Blue Ridge rules Division 1

By Tom Robinson,

KINGSLEY – Blue Ridge’s fourth-set rally in an attempt to end the playoff match for the Lackawanna League Division 1 girls volleyball title came up short, but it served to prepare the Lady Raiders well for what was ahead.

Carrying the momentum from a late surge in the fourth set and riding the precision serving of Libby Zick, Blue Ridge stormed in front early in the fifth and deciding set and remained there while finishing off North Pocono for the title.

Zick’s serves allowed the Lady Raiders to score the first eight points of the fifth set on the way to closing out the 17-25, 25-11, 25-22, 22-25, 15-5 victory over North Pocono in the Monday night match at Mountain View High School.

“That definitely helped us,” Zick said. “We were down by a lot.

“ … It was an amazing effort. It’s hard to win a set like that, but I think it definitely lifted us and motivated us.”

Kate Spencer had two powerful hits and a quick defensive reaction at the net to finish another point, Kaelynn Brant had a couple of blocks and Leigha McCain served five straight points during a stretch in which Blue Ridge won 11 of 12 points to take a 22-20 lead in a set in which it had trailed by as many as nine.

Once Zick gave Blue Ridge a cushion in the last set, the Lady Raiders never let the Lady Trojans closer than six points the rest of the way.

The victory completed a run in which the eight-time defending District 2 Class A champion Lady Raiders, the 2021 Lackawanna Division 2 champion completed a successful move up to Division 1. Blue Ridge, with a three-grade female enrollment of 105, voluntarily bumped up to join two 3A and two 2A schools, a group that has an average enrollment of 254.

“I’m so proud of these girls because I know that they were a little nervous about my insistence that this was a good thing,” said Blue Ridge coach Lori Zick, Libby’s mother. “This is where we need to be and they just kept proving that to themselves all year long.

“To go 17-1 in the regular season and then force a tie with a Triple-A school for a league title, then come out the winner of it, I could not be more proud of them.

“Their mindset of how good they are changed as the season went on.”

The Lady Raiders, ranked fourth among schools of all classifications in the Electric City Volleyball Academy Elite Eight Power Rankings of District 2 teams, had split their regular-season meetings with No. 6 North Pocono while both were 13-1 in the league.

Kate Spencer and Brooke Tingley finished with 14 kills each for the Lady Raiders.

Spencer also had 20 digs and 8 service points.

“I was very nervous because we didn’t know what to expect this season,” Spencer said. “It was such a big difference.”

Tingley also had six digs.

Libby Zick finished with 46 assists, 17 service points, 7 digs and 4 aces.

Foxlynn King had a strong all-around game with nine service points, five aces, eight kills, six digs and three blocks.

Kaelynn Brant chipped in nine points, seven kills and two aces. Emma Button had 12 digs.

Sam Snyder had 12 kills to lead North Pocono (17-4), including two during the five-point run to finish off the fourth set and get the Lady Trojans into the fifth.

Mia Summa had nine kills and seven digs.

Grace Calles had 29 digs while Soyer Delucy had 23 assists.

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