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Mechanicsburg’s Candice Baum had three kills and an ace in Tuesday's loss to Hershey.

MECHANICSBURG — Mechanicsburg girls volleyball only returned two starters from last year, so the early season matches are an opportunity to find those combinations for the court.

Hershey is on the opposite end of the spectrum, with several key players from last year’s rebuild back. The Trojans are out to return to the top of the division, and they took a step in the right direction with sweep of the Wildcats 25-20, 26-24, 25-18 in their Mid-Penn Keystone matchup Tuesday night at Mechanicsburg High School.

“We only return two starters, and we have some youngsters experience-wise,” Wildcats head coach Kat Marquiss said. “Some are seniors. This is only my second year, so I don’t know a lot about the history, but they are working hard and they never give up. We just need to play consistently every game.”

Serve and serve receive took center stage in this one.

Hershey (2-1, 2-1 Keystone) had four aces in Set 1 but gave up seven to the Wildcats, anchored by four from Sydney Gelnett and two from Ella Forsythe. The Wildcats helped the Trojans by serving five balls long or into the net.

The ‘Cats led 4-3, but an eight-point run by Trojan libero Grace Singleton gave the visitors an 11-4 lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Mechanicsburg (2-2, 0-2) handled themselves better in the second set and had the lead in a tight battle.

Gelnett’s strong hitting game gave the Wildcats a 24-18 lead and set point. But a kill from Hershey’s Maddie Geeting and two Wildcat net errors sliced into that lead.

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“We had the chance there, but we just didn’t finish anything,” Marquiss said.

Mechanicsburg was unable to fend off the ensuing rally. Annie Shay served three straight aces to tie the game, and the Trojans got a big hit from Amber Bell and another ace from Shay to grab the victory, staving off set point on eight chances.

“Shay is our leader on the floor, and she certainly steadies the game and the girls out there,” Hershey head coach John Zitka said. “She is a very high-level player but is so humble that the kids look up to her. We have several young hitters in Geeting and Anna Coulter, and she gets the ball in the right positions for them to hit.”

Hershey took another early lead in the third behind the hitting of Ana Silva, and the Trojans stretched that lead throughout to finish with a 25-16 victory.

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