|Posted/Updated: 5/26/2017 1:19:15 PM|
Emmaus sweeps Whitehall for District 11 Class 3A volleyball title
It didn't take long for Emmaus to show its prowess in the District 11 Class 3A volleyball finals on Thursday at Allen High School.
In fact, head coach Ken Dunkle expected his Green Hornets to take care of business from the opening whistle.
Pitted against a familiar opponent, Emmaus lept out to an early lead and never looked back as it swept Whitehall, 25-16, 25-23, 25-21 to claim its first district title since 2013.
"I'm excited for the boys because of the high expectations we've had all season," Dunkle said. "I'm truly blessed to have such a talented team. I'm happy to see our goals come to fruition."
The Green Hornets looked impressive in their third win over Whitehall this season. Not only did Emmaus command the match on offense, but they also shut down the Zephyrs' momentum on multiple occasions.
After running away with the first set, Emmaus was backed by James Haag (10 kills) and Noah Bacon (11 kills), who lifted the Green Hornets to a comfortable 21-14 second-set lead. But a scrappy Whitehall squad won six of the next seven points to get within one. More importantly, the match's momentum was on the verge of shifting toward the Zephyrs' side.
After a much-needed timeout, Emmaus made sure to eliminate the crowd from the match and went on to close out the set at 25-23.
"I told them to settle down and to do the things that have gotten us here," Dunkle said. "[Whitehall] made some adjustments. They took more chances at the service line, which resulted in a few more errors for them. We wanted to make sure we stuck to our game and take their crowd out of it."
The Green Hornets limited their errors in the third set, jumping out to an early lead and cruising to victory.
Emmaus went to middle blocker Matt Swanson often in the championship match. The junior added to the Green Hornets' offensive assault with four kills, and was solid on defense with three blocks.
"There was a lot of anticipation leading up to this match," Swanson said. "It's a real honor to win this with these guys. We really came together throughout the season. We know the potential of the team and we expect to go far."
Defensively, Brendan Dunkle led the way for Emmaus. The senior libero was rock solid with a match-high 19 digs. The Green Hornets' Cameron Parsons had 33 assists and Carson Landis added eight kills.
"It's been a few years since our last district title, so this is pretty exciting," Brendan Dunkle said. "We knew [Whitehall's] tricks. We just needed to play loose and relax. We knew we were the better team."
Next up for both teams is the PIAA Class 3A tournament. District 11 again sends its top two representatives to the state tournament, which begins Tuesday.
In the first round, the unbeaten Green Hornets will take on the District 12 runner-up, while the Zephyrs play the third-place finisher out of District 3.
"The goal is to get as far into the state tournament as we can," Brendan Dunkle said. "We feel we can hang with the best of the best."
"The mission is to go deep in states. We view this title as a stepping stone toward our ultimate goal," added Ken Dunkle.
Dante Terenzio is a freelance writer.
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