|Posted/Updated: 6/5/2017 3:23:45 PM|
Emmaus gets hard-fought victory in volleyball
The Emmaus and Pennridge volleyball teams took entirely different routes to reach success this postseason.
The Green Hornets have swept through each of their opponents, while the Rams, who came into the District One tournament as the No. 6 seed, were forced to win close battles in their postseason contests.
So when the two teams went the distance in the PIAA quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon at Quakertown High School, Pennridge was seemingly favored in the fifth set, considering its situational experience.
Emmaus would not back down from a new challenge, and would regain composure to steal the fifth set and put an end to the Rams' season, 24-26, 25-14, 25-22, 24-26, 15-11.
"What a great win," Emmaus coach Ken Dunkle said. "We haven't really been pushed recently and [Pennridge] is battle-tested, so there were a little nerves. But we made it happen.
Playing with a heavy heart, senior Noah Bacon put together one of his top performances of the season.
Bacon lost his grandfather on Friday night but still mustered up the strength to lead the Green Hornets with 15 kills.
"This win was for my grandfather," an emotional Bacon said. "It was up and down and we got off to a slow start. Getting a state title is the main goal so we have two more until we reach that goal."
Back-and-forth action highlighted the first set, but the Rams' top player Ben Chinnici took matters into his own hands, contributing six of his match-high 23 kills to stake his team to a one set lead.
The Green Hornets settled in after that, whipping through the second and third sets. Carson Landis had eight of his 11 kills in those two sets combined to help give Emmaus a lead and the momentum.
The Green Hornets went up 20-17 in the fourth but the Rams came storming back to steal the set and energize the crowd.
James Haag caught fire in the fifth with five of his 13 kills, and Mitch Shoemaker's solid effort at the service line put the Green Hornets over the top. Shoemaker served five-straight points, giving Emmaus a 13-10 lead. Haag's kill and Jacob Rumfield's block put the finishing touches on a Green Hornet win.
But it was Bacon's consistent offense and solid defensive net play that proved to be the difference in the match. Bacon is in his first year playing on the Emmaus volleyball team but has competed for several years in an outdoor league.
"Noah is a big soccer player and has a college scholarship locked in," Dunkle said. "He's been a great fit on the team, and I believe if he played four years, he'd be a division one recruit."
The Green Hornets' top hitters were set up nicely throughout the match by Cam Parsons. The senior had 51 assists, 11 digs, and four kills. Defensively, Brendan Dunkle turned in a strong performance with 17 digs.
Cross Edwards was the Rams' second leading hitter with 20 kills.
Next up for Emmaus is Tuesday's PIAA semifinals where it will face Central York (District 3 champion) or Pennsbury (District One runner-up).
Dante Terenzio is a freelance writer.
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