After swinging away for five sets, Leah Bisignani’s softest touch of the night scored the biggest point.
Bisignani had a match-high 25 kills, including the match-winning point, and Greensburg Central Catholic won the first state championship in its girls volleyball program’s history with a 3-2 win over defending champion Marian Catholic in the PIAA Class A final Saturday at Richland High School in Johnstown.
Megan Stunja had 10 kills, and Kristin Hickey added seven kills and four aces — two of which came late in the final set — for the Centurions (23-1).
But it was Bisignani, the senior middle hitter, who came up with big points when her team needed them, the last of which was a soft tap into the open center of the court that ended a tight final set, 15-13.
“It was a crazy feeling. I couldn’t believe my team and I did it. I’m so proud of everyone,” Bisignani said. “We’ve made history at Central. All of my seniors, we’ve played together since we were nine. I’m so happy we could end on a win.”
“I don’t think (Bisignani) tipped a ball over the rest of the day. I don’t think they were expecting that,” Greensburg Central Catholic coach Heather Meyer said.
The teams alternated winning sets, with the first four going by scores of 25-23, 15-25, 25-10 and 18-25. Other than its dominant third set, GCC trailed with Marian Catholic (25-1) needing just four points to win in each of the other sets.
But even after shaky stretches and the two sets they dropped, the Centurions recovered, just as they did when coming back from a 2-0 deficit in their semifinal win over Clarion.
“Our team has done that all year round. They won’t give up,” Meyer said.
“I’ve never had a team that keeps pushing themselves and comes from behind numerous times. I can’t say enough about how we meshed as a team, and we’ve counted on all of them.”
Megan Kloap had 14 kills to lead Marian Catholic, which had not lost a set all season prior to the state final.
The Fillies showed resilience and led the final set 11-8, but they couldn’t hold off a 7-2 run by GCC to close out the match.
“It was a great match between evenly matched teams,” Marian Catholic coach John Fallabel said. “They deserved it. They’re a great team with a good, strong middle attack and nice defense.”
Defense was key for the Centurions, especially at the net. GCC forced Marian Catholic to get most of its points on the outside by limiting Fillies’ 6-foot-1 middle hitter Abby Stankiewitch to just five kills.
“They’re a really good team with some big hitters, but I think we blocked really well,” Bisignani said.
“(Stankiewitch) didn’t have a good day hitting. She was blocked pretty well,” Fallabel said. “She worked hard at the net with seven blocks, but only had five kills. That was a big difference in the game.”
GCC’s win is the first state title in girls volleyball for a WPIAL team since West Allegheny won the Class AA title in 2006.
The Centurions were just the third WPIAL team to appear in a final in any classification since 2006.