It was just another point late in the second set of a rout Saturday.
The point, however, had everyone talking. Newark Catholic junior Jill Blacksten went diving to save a point during the Green Wave’s sweep of Madison Christian.
Except Blacksten is not the typical player to be hitting the floor. She is a 6-foot-1 middle hitter.
“It gets you so excited,” senior Maddie Wirth said. “Defense wins championships and to see Jill, someone 6-1 and go down and dive for a ball like that, is really crazy.”
“It is definitely Jill to go for the pancake and get up and get the assist,” junior Jenna Bourne said. “It is just funny because it was Jill.”
NC easily beat Madison Christian to win its third consecutive Division IV district title. The Green Wave, however, have been tripped up at this point the past two seasons.
NC (22-4) plays Waterford at 6 p.m. Thursday at Lancaster in a regional semifinal. Beaver Eastern, the Green Wave’s nemesis, plays Shekinah Christian in a rematch of a 2012 regional final in the second match.
The Wildcats (23-2) lost in a district final the past two seasons. This year, second-seeded Waterford swept top-seeded Portsmouth Notre Dame. It has not lost since finishing 1-2 in a quad Aug. 31, and its only lost set since came in a five-set victory against Reedsville Eastern, a district finalist.
Several players on NC and the Wildcats participated in the Green Wave’s regional semifinal basketball victory in March.
Given the difficulty in competition, every point will become increasingly important. While Blacksten’s dive was simply the highlight of an 11-point run to finish off the second set, a similar play could save the season this time.
“Definitely in the second (set), we might have sat back a little bit and gave them too much breathing room,” Bourne said. “With Jill’s pancake, it really gets our momentum going and we were able to pick it up.”
Sophomore Taylor Daignault is the closest thing NC has to a go-to player, but the Green Wave’s advantage is in their balance. NC setters junior Kelly Clapper and freshman Megan Stanton first look to middles Becca Kapavik and Blacksten, then work their way out.
Sophomore Christine Joyce has emerged as a threat outside when Daignault is in the back row, and Wirth and Bourne are lurking as they share the right side. Daignault assists Marisa Peddicord in the back row.
“It is real important at this level to continue to get everybody involved, so that everybody is getting better and growing,” Green Wave coach Jeri Helfer said. “That is what is important, and we have done a good job of that. We know we have some certain weapons, but let’s see if we can add some weapons to our arsenal.”
Will it all add up to the first trip to state since 2008? It might take more pancakes than a breakfast buffet.
“I think Jill getting that pancake — I never would have dreamed it — but that was huge,” Helfer said.