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Thomas Jefferson volleyball team breezes to 1st PIAA win since 2001

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Chris Wechtenhiser | For Trib Total Media
Thomas Jefferson's Allie Yurkovich (7) hammers a spike past St. Marys' Sierra Pryor (13) during first-set action on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs. Yurkovich had six kills and eight service points in a sweep of St. Marys.

DuBOIS — The Thomas Jefferson volleyball team used a dominant night at the net to hammer District 9 champ St. Marys, 25-14, 25-14, 25-7, to capture the school’s first state playoff victory in more than a decade.

With the win, the school’s first at states since sweeping General McLane in 2001, Thomas Jefferson advanced to the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals Saturday. The Jaguars will play either District 10 champ Fort LeBoeuf, the state runner-up last year and PIAA champion in 2012.

Middle hitter Rachel Stover led TJ’s attack, recording a match-high 14 kills and 10 service points.

Stover wasn’t the only Jaguar to have a big night. Allie Yurkovich posted six kills and eight points, and Kayla Smith had five kills and three blocks.

At the service line, Megan Fitzgerald had nine points, including two aces. Natalie Miller also dropped in eight points. Bailey Veith chipped in six points.

“This was a big win for the girls,” Thomas Jefferson coach Ron Kelly said.

“We played well from the first point all the way to the end of the third game, and everything was clicking for us tonight. Our passing was good, which gave us a lot of options at the net. We also were very good in the middle tonight, and they had a hard time stopping our middle attacks.

“When we can establish Stover (in middle) it opens everything else up for us. And, if we pass like we did tonight, that makes the setter’s job a lot easier to get those girls on the outside a chance to swing.

“It also was nice to see the girls finish off each set strong and not let them (St. Marys) get any momentum. Even when they called timeouts, we made a good play afterward.”

Thomas Jefferson jumped out to a 8-3 lead in the first set before St. Marys slowly clawed its way back, getting within 13-10.

It was all TJ after that. Four straight points from Stover promptly made it 17-10.

Yurkovich then ripped off six straight points to close out the set. Miller had her three kills in the closing run.

The Jaguars jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second set on three straight points from Reis Zandier and maintained that gap for most of the set.

Thomas Jefferson again pulled away late, outscoring St. Marys 13-3 after the Dutch had gotten within 12-11.

Fitzgerald quickly pushed the lead back to five with three points following a sideout, while Stover later added four points of her own to make it 22-13. Veith served the final two points of the set, with Yurkovich hammering a kill to end it.

The third set was all TJ. The Jaguars quickly raced out to an 18-3 lead thanks in large part to seven points by Miller and another four by Veith.

Fitzgerald added two points on her serve late in the game before Thomas Jefferson finished off the sweep with a 25-7 win in the final set.

Chris Wechtenhiser is a freelance writer.

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