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Hazelton shines, leads PO to thrilling District 6 championship win over inspired Bald Eagle team

Three for three!

It’s been a magical season for the Philipsburg-Osceola volleyball team as they finished the regular season and has continued it into the District 6 playoffs.

Tuesday night, the Lady Mounties went up against Mountain League rival Bald Eagle.

The two played two times before with the Mounties coming out on top in both and taking the Mountain Legue title in the process.

In the District 6 Class AA match up, the two played a classic contest where Philipsburg-Osceola came out and won the match in four sets,25-23, 25-18, 30-32, 25-16.

Leading the way was freshman phenom Reese Hazelton who came up numerous time when her team needed her.

Whether it was a spike, dive, block or save, Hazelton was there when her team needed a big play.

She was just one key of the winning cog in the Mounties machine as they got strong performances from Jayden Perks, Paige Jarrett and Janey Johnson.

“When you can beat a team like Bald Eagle and when you have so much respect for Larry and his program and he has been doing it for so long, it’s very rewarding because you know you beat a very quality program and a great coach. We respect each other,” said Mounties coach Dave Eckberg. “I’m very proud of our kids. They gutted through a tough one tonight.”

Bald Eagle got strong showings from Lexi Skripek, Claire Andrews, Elyssa Greene, Brynne Bisel and Maddison Perry.

“We played them 10 sets this year and five or six of them were decided by two. Unfortunately, we were on the wrong one of five of those six,” said Bald Eagle Area coach Larry Campbell. “In set one especially, 25-23 what a difference it would make if we could grind it out. I give our kids a lot of credit. They are tough kids. We don’t have a get out of jail free card like they have with Reese or  Northern Cambria had like Maggie Hogan so we have to grind out a lot of points which means us playing defense, us making touches and us making special plays. There are no easy outs for us.”

It was a back-and-forth thriller from the very beginning as the two exchanged side outs early.

Tied at three, Hazelton took back possession for her team as she smack a blast, giving them a 4-3 advantage.

She made a difference from the serving line as well tonight as she picked up two service points on her secondary blasts to the back line, upping their advantage to 6-3.

Back rallied the Eagles as they went on a 7-0 run to take a 10-6 advantage, causing Philipsburg-Osceola a time out.

For a time during the match, the Lady Eagles continued to keep their big lead up to the 15-10 mark.

The Mounties worked their way back into the contest, going on a 4-0 run of its own. Three of those points came from the service points of London Cutler.

After cutting it to only a 15-14 deficit, the two teams exchanged side outs eight times, putting the score at a 19-18 Bald Eagle lead.

After a scoring surge of four consecutive points, the Lady Mounties took the lead at 21-19.

The Mountain League champs were able to hold the Eagles of en route to the 25-23 advantage.

Finishing off the first game was a spike by Hazelton.

In the second game, the Mounties held the lead for most of the game and despite the Eagles keeping within striking distance for most of the game, Philipsburg-Osceola came out the 25-18 victors, going up two games to none.

But never underestimate the heart of a champion as the Lady Eagles were able to muscle out a win in the third game which was a marathon in itself, outlasting the Mounties 32-30.

With the loss in game three, Philipsburg-Osceola came into game four played inspired as it rolled out a 5-0 advantage. That came on the serving points of Perks and the resurgence of Hazelton’s blasts that she had in the previous games. She had four finishing points in the run.

Hazelton was automatic when asked to step up.

She dominated things for her team in the final match.

Leading 24-16 after a Hazelton smash, it almost seemed fitting that she would finish the game with a service points, clinching the District 6 Class AA tournament.

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