MECHANICSBURG -- One could forgive a few frayed nerves among the Susquehannock girls' volleyball players, early in their PIAA Class AA first-round match with Somerset on Tuesday.

For the Warriors, this was the same round they had seen their season end in each of the last two seasons. As junior outside hitter Caroline Savin put it, "I've never been to (quarterfinal pool play) on Friday, so there was kind of pressure."

But other than a sluggish start and a few sloppy moments, those jitters made little difference. Somerset, the District 5 champion, could do little to slow the Warriors during their three-game sweep, 25-16, 25-14, 25-13, at Cumberland Valley High School.

Susquehannock moved on to state quarterfinal pool play, which will take place Friday at Central York. The semifinals and finals are scheduled for Saturday at Central.

For the Warriors and coach Rob Marrison, it was a welcome change from the slip-ups of the last two seasons.

"I don't ask for a whole lot, I don't think, as a coach," Marrison said of getting past the first round. "But I said 'I want you guys to help me get this monkey off my back.'"

The Warriors will move forward having played some of their best volleyball during the last week. Since a 3-0 defeat to Dover in the YAIAA tournament semifinals, the Warriors have won 17 of the 18 sets they've played. That stretch included a three-game sweep of Brandywine Heights in the District 3 Class AA title game.


"That just put them in a different mindset," Marrison said of the loss to Dover.

Susquehannock was far from flawless Tuesday. But a relatively inexperienced and undersized Somerset side did little to trouble the Warriors. The Eagles committed 13 service errors. (Susquehannock had six). The latest Somerset led in a set was at 4-3 in Game 2.

"I think both sides were nervous," Marrison said. "The coach from Somerset has a really young team, and they played really good defense."

That defense could not, however, stave off a series of decisive Warriors runs. Somerset stayed close in each of the teams' first two games -- it trailed 11-9 in Game 1 and 13-11 in Game 2. Both times, Susquehannock pulled away.

Senior Sherelle Walker had a team-high 11 kills for Warriors. Savin had two of her six kills during a Game 1 run that saw Susquehannock finally settle in.

"Sometimes it's just that initial kick in the butt to get you started," Savin said.

The Warriors allowed for no such drama in Game 3, pulling away to a 19-9 lead. The match was over in a shade under an hour.

Kacey Franz notched a team-high 15 assists to go with three digs for Susquehannock. Rachel Moltz and Beth Garrison each chipped in three aces.

Now comes the next hurdle. The Warriors will be joined in their pool by West Allegheny, Fort Leboeuf and Freeport. The top two finishers from the pool will advance.

"They've got all the motivation they need," Marrison said of his team. "They just need to go out and execute at this point in the season."

Added Savin: "I think we're ready."; 771-2045
at Cumberland Valley H.S.
(25-16, 25-14, 25-13)
   Warriors stats -- Kara Anderson (1 kill, 1 dig, 2 blocks), Hannah Bentz (1 ace, 15 digs), Kacey Franz (3 kills, 15 assists, 2 aces, 11 digs), Sherelle Walker (11 kills, 3 digs, 1 block), Leah Deter (4 kills, 4 assists, 1 ace, 1 dig), Beth Garrison (3 aces, 8 digs), Kristin Hedgeland (1 dig), Rachel Moltz (5 assists, 3 aces, 8 digs), Caroline Savin (6 kills, 1 dig, 1 block), Genna Weger (1 ace, 10 digs).