Posted/Updated: 6/29/2017 11:26:46 AM

Morning Call boys volleyball: Emmaus is team of year

The Emmaus High boys volleyball team felt a great deal of pain after getting ousted from the 2016 District 11 Class 3A tournament.

That semifinal loss meant no shot at a district title and no trip to the state tournament.

Fast forward to this spring, the Green Hornets returned numerous key players, all of whom bringing a different skill set to the court. But each player had one common goal: revenge at the district tournament.

After ripping through the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, the Green Hornets claimed this season's District 11 Class 3A title in dominant fashion, then made a run to the PIAA semifinals before falling to state power Central York.

For living up to its high postseason expectations, Emmaus is The Morning Call boys volleyball team of the year.

"We all knew we had a strong and well-balanced team in all positions, so the message for most of the season was to really just go out and play our game and trust in each other," Emmaus coach Ken Dunkle said. "We didn't really need to rely on any one player to carry us every match. Everyone had games where they came up big for us. I think that helps take the pressure off the individual because they know they can truly rely on the team."

Sure, the Green Hornets were pleased with their dominance in the EPC and district tournaments, but the lack of competition proved to be their downfall in the later rounds of the PIAA tournament. In districts, Emmaus swept Easton, Nazareth and Whitehall. The PIAA first round was more of the same as the Green Hornets shut out La Salle College. It wasn't until the state quarterfinals that Emmaus was pushed, a five-set victory over Pennridge.

The Green Hornets faced off against eventual state champion Central York in the PIAA semifinals. The battle-tested Panthers proved to be too experienced as they knocked off Emmaus in four sets.

"I think our relatively easy road through districts definitely hurt us in the long run. I was actually glad we had to battle Pennridge the way we did in the quarterfinals," Dunkle said. "That at least gave us a little preview of what we would face against Central York, but I think Central York's experience through the season battling in a very strong District 3 gave them the advantage. In the final state rankings, five of the top 10 teams in the state are from District 3. Battling all season prepared them well for the postseason."

After a highly successful season, the Green Hornets will look to remain on top next season when it returns two of the top players in the EPC as Cam Parsons and James Haag will both be back for Emmaus in their senior year.

Dante Terenzio is a freelance writer.


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