|Posted/Updated: 11/13/2019 9:44:04 AM|
District 11 girls volleyball: Southern Lehigh earns 3A crown, Parkland takes 4A title
The traditional saying “to be the champs, you have to beat the champs” was on constant repeat in the Southern Lehigh girls volleyball program this season.
The Southern Lehigh seniors have experienced great success throughout their career, but a District 11 title has eluded the Spartans in recent years.
That all changed on Thursday night at Catasauqua High School in the Class 3A championship match.
The Spartans made a shocking comeback to stun four-time defending champion Central Catholic in five sets [13-25, 25-18, 17-25, 25-19, 15-12] and win the program’s first district title since 2013.
As they have all season, Cortney Kylish and Mackenzie Feight played key roles for the Spartans and contributed heavily against the Vikettes.
Colonial League MVP Kylish led the team with 18 kills and four digs in the finals.
“This means everything. We showed so much heart and there was never a doubt in our mind that we’d win,” Kylish said. “This is the only thing we’ve wanted all year. The seniors knew there was no way we would lose.”
Feight, a Colonial League first-team all-star, logged in 10 kills and four digs.
“We’ve been waiting for this since freshman year,” Feight said. “We really wanted this and it feels amazing. Coming into the season we knew we would have to beat Central. Just an awesome feeling.”
Central Catholic appeared to be on its way to a fourth-straight title when it carried a 2-1 lead into the fourth set.
That’s when Southern Lehigh stepped up, spreading the ball offensively and tightening up on defense.
Brooke Adams registered a whopping 49 assists and involved Alyssa Adams on 11 kills. Brianna West also put forth a solid performance with seven kills.
The Spartans took early leads in the final two sets and would not let up en route to the title.
“This team has wanted it so bad all season,” Southern Lehigh coach Don West Jr. said. “We didn’t come in with our best stuff in the first three games, but the fourth and fifth might’ve been the best volleyball we’ve played all season. Once the fire got lit, we never looked back.”
Southern Lehigh now advances to the PIAA Class 3A tournament, which begins on Tuesday. The Spartans will take on the District 3 third-place finisher at a site and time to be determined.
While the Vikettes were unable to defend their long-standing run of district titles, coach Laurie Corcoran is excited for what’s to come for her team.
“We knew this was going to be a tough match, and I think my team did fabulous,” Corcoran said. “This is what high school sports are all about. We will come back strong. We have a lot of good, young players.”
Putting forth strong performances against Southern Lehigh were seniors Maggie McGuire (16 kills, 2 aces), Sydney Giamalis (20 digs), Ava Graspy (15 kills, 4 aces), and junior Monica Vargo (38 assists).
What started as an absolute thriller ended with another Parkland championship.
The Trojans fought off eight set points to take an early lead, then halted a furious rally to defeat Emmaus 35-33, 25-17, 17-25, 25-16 in the second district title match of a doubleheader at Catasauqua.
Parkland, which has now won six straight district titles, relied on an outstanding defensive effort to outdo an energized Green Hornets team. In fact, four Trojan players tallied digs in the double digits.
Sophomore Brynn Dreisbach led the Trojans with 14 kills and 14 digs. Juniors Leah Brunnabend (19 digs), Emily Mohr (15 digs) and freshman Scarlett Jago (12 digs, 7 kills) also turned in stellar performances for Parkland.
Parkland's Leah Brunnabend, 10, shown here during the EPC final, had 19 digs for the Trojans in the District 11 final. (Douglas Kilpatrick / Special to The Morning Call)
But it was a pair of seniors who hoisted the district championship trophy high during the awards ceremony.
Opposite hitter Amber Resendez registered 10 kills while middle hitter Lauren Ceh finished with eight kills.
“This feels really good. I don’t think anyone expected us to do this,” Resendez said. “We had good energy in the first and second set. Our energy was lower in the third but we got it back. The training and hard work has paid off.”
Ceh couldn’t hold back the excitement of continuing Parkland’s impressive string of district championships.
“It means a lot to continue the legacy of all our sisters before us,” Ceh said. “We had a good day of practice and we felt really prepared. Winning in the semifinals was not enough. We came in with a goal and accomplished it.”
Junior Jackie Malitzki (44 assists, 7 digs) and sophomore Sydney Esquieres (8 kills) also made big contributions for Parkland.
Emmaus received strong efforts from big hitters Jaya Bhagat (17 kills, 18 digs) and Macy Van Den Elzen (14 kills, 7 digs). The Green Hornets were led defensively by Kelsie Baus (18 digs), and Kassidy Hallman (15 digs).
Both Parkland and Emmaus qualify for the PIAA Class 4A tournament, which begins Tuesday.
The Trojans play the District 3 fourth-place finisher, while the Green Hornets meet the District 1 runner-up. Both locations and times are to be determined.
Dante Terenzio is a freelance writer for the Morning Call.
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