Parkland, Southern Lehigh reach girls volleyball state semifinals
Some thought this could be the year Parkland fell from its perch as the area's top girls volleyball team.
In fact, it was just two weeks ago the Trojans were seeded in the middle of the pack of the District 11 Class 4A tournament.
Parkland won another district title and has stormed through the first two rounds of the PIAA tournament, beating Central York in Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinals.
The Trojans got off to a slow start, but recovered to knock off the Panthers 3-1 [22-25, 25-16, 25-11, 25-23] at Exeter Township High School.
Parkland is in the state semifinals for the sixth-straight year, and eighth of the past nine.
"After the first set, there was no panic," Parkland coach Mike Krause said. "The girls served very aggressively, played relentless defense, and converted the defensive plays into points."
Jackie Malitzki (45 assists) spread the ball out to several players to keep the Panthers in check. Brynn Dreisbach (17 kills), Sydney Esquieres (12 kills), Amber Resendez (10 kills) and Lauren Ceh (10 kills) led the high-powered Parkland offense.
Defensively, Leah Brunnabend (25 digs), Emily Mohr (7 digs), Malitzki (7 digs), and Dreisbach (4 digs) enabled the Trojans to win long points. Parkland also had 9 service aces.
"Their hearts were the size of the Statue of Liberty tonight,” a Krause said. “This team is so together as a group; a very special collection of people."
A familiar opponent looms in Tuesday’s semifinal matchup. The Trojans play District 1 power Bishop Shanahan for a fourth-straight season. The site and time of the match are to be determined.
Southern Lehigh fought off early-match nerves in its PIAA quarterfinal tilt against District 1 runner-up Villa Maria Academy on Saturday at Upper Dublin High School.
The Spartans won a close first set, then stepped on the gas petal and cruised to a 3-0 [25-23, 25-16, 25-16] victory over the Hurricanes.
The victory marks the Spartans' first trip to the PIAA semifinals since 2013.
"We didn't pass great or serve great in the first, but found a way to win," Southern coach Don West Jr. said. "There was a little bit of nerves and the energy wasn't there at first. Once we relaxed and won the first game, everyone played the way they're supposed to."
Offensively, Mackenzie Feight (14 kills) and Cortney Kylish (11 kills) led the way for the Spartans. Brianna West and Alyssa Adams also chipped in, combining for 12 kills. Brooke Adams led the team in assists with 28.
Lauren Baringer (9 digs), Kylish (9 digs), and Feight (7 digs) were the defensive leaders for the Spartans, which play District 3 runner-up Garden Spot in Tuesday’s semifinals at a site and time to be determined.
"A lot of kids came down for support so we had a great crowd tonight. It was a cool atmosphere,” West Jr. said. " The girls are definitely excited for the semifinals because they’ve never been there before. If we come ready to play, we can beat anyone in the state. I’m excited for the girls."