Mars’ Jaden Zimmer (14) spikes the ball on Kittanning’s Nicole Eckman (10) and Megan Cloak during the Planets’ 3-0 WPIAL volleyball playoff win over Kittanning.
ADAMS TWP — Kills are great. Blocks are even better. The Mars volleyball team prides itself on its net dominance, both on offense and defense. “Blocking is such a momentum builder and such a huge part of the game,” said Mars volleyball coach Dan Mountain. “It rallies the whole team so much. I’ve coached a lot of boys teams and it’s a big part of the boys game. I like how these girls have made it a big part of their game, too.” Welcome to the block party, only Kittanning didn’t find the festivities very welcoming as the Planets rolled to a 25-17, 25-13, 25-17 win over the Wildcats in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs at Mars Thursday night. Mars (14-3) never trailed in any game by more than two points and, after a slow start, exerted its will at the net. Abby Matusik and Jaden Zimmer each had nine kills and Kelsey Bruce had eight kills and eight blocks for the Planets. “It took our absolute best plays to beat them,” Mountain said of a feisty Kittanning team that had a huge height disadvantage. “Overall, with all of the different weapons we threw at them, you can’t stop all of them. “If we have everybody on at the same time, we’re pretty tough to beat,” Mountain added. The Wildcats had just 15 kills as a team and none in the final game. “They came out so strong and so excited to play,” said Kittanning coach Kara Grafton. “There’s something to be said about the heart that they showed out there. They never gave up against a team that towered over them.” The Wildcats (12-4) had seven of their kills in the first game and had the game tied at 12-12 before Mars took over the game and the match in the front row. “My team has to realize they have the green light to be the strongest, most powerful, aggressive team there is at the front row,” Mountain said. Once the Planets did realize that, they cruised. “We have a very special front row,” Matusik said. The back row isn’t too shabby, either. Senior libero Melanie Dinderman had 20 digs and senior setter Katie King added 34 assists. Mars will now play South Fayette, who blanked Central Valley 3-0, Tuesday at a site and timeTBA.