WILLIAMSPORT — The Williamsport volleyball team is 10-0 for the first time since 2004, although they just about gave coach Emily Crabtree a heart attack getting there Thursday night.
The Wildcats raced to big leads in the first two games on the way to a 2-0 lead over Thomas Johnson, then had to withstand the Patriots’ comeback attempt, only pulling out a 25-21, 26-24, 20-25, 24-26, 15-11 victory when junior Stacey Christy took charge at the end of Game 5.
Christy — who finished with 24 kills and eight blocks — had five kills and a block in the Game 5 race to 15. She had two kills and a block in a three-point sequence that got Williamsport to match point at 14-9, then put away the final kill three points later.
“Stacey, it’s time for her to take charge,” Crabtree said. “She’s 6-foot-2 for crying out loud, and very athletic. She needs to come out of her shell more.”
A 6-1 run gave the Wildcats an 11-7 lead in Game 5, with Ariah Giles contributing two kills and a block in the run. After Thomas Johnson scored the next two points, Christy went to work to spoil the Patriots’ upset bid — which was fueled by a tenacious defense that got better as the match wore on.
“That’s the best defensive match TJ has played this year,” Crabtree said. “Their defense was crazy good. It was just insane at times, and when the ball came back over, our girls weren’t ready for it.”
It was a tight match throughout, with Williamsport winning 110 points and Thomas Johnson 108. Both teams committed 38 errors and had nine blocks. The Patriots had one more kill (53) than Williamsport (52), but the Wildcats had three more aces (11-8).
Williamsport raced to a 14-6 lead in Game 1 and a 13-4 lead in Game 2. Thomas Johnson cut the lead in Game 1 all the way down to 23-21, but Christy’s kill and a double-block by Christy and Courtney Malott ended it.
The Patriots came all the way back to tie Game 2 at 24, but amazingly, that game’s final two points were a replay of Game 1 — a Christy kill and a double-block by Christy and Malott.
Thomas Johnson kept fighting. Led by Charlotte Sabatano (28 kills) and Stacie Lynch (47 assists), the Patriots pulled out the next two games. Tied at 24 in Game 4, Sabatano ended it with two kills to force Game 5.
Summer Neff had 24 assists and Emily Taylor added 21 assists for Williamsport. Sam Kelly had 12 kills and 32 digs, Malott had 23 digs, five kills and four aces, Brooklyn Welch had 26 digs and Giles added seven kills and three aces.