|Posted/Updated: 11/13/2019 9:34:14 AM|
PIAA volleyball: Southern Lehigh moves to 3A final; Parkland ousted in 4A
For the first time since 2011, the Southern Lehigh girls volleyball team has reached the state finals.
Facing an early one-set disadvantage, the Spartans caught fire in their PIAA Class 3A semifinal on Tuesday.
Southern Lehigh jumped out to big leads in each of the next three sets and never looked back, as it knocked off Garden Spot, 3-1 [21-25, 25-16, 25-12, 25-18] at Spring-Ford High School.
"I literally can not believe we actually made it to the finals. This is so wild," Southern Lehigh senior Cortney Kylish said. "After the first, we agreed that it's all or nothing and we are not letting anything hit the floor. We played hard and gave everything we had."
A key element to the Spartans’ success this postseason is the way they respond to a deficit. The Southern Lehigh team that presented itself late in the semifinals was not the same as the one in the first set.
"Our energy made a huge difference," senior Kate Miller said. "After the first set, we realized how much we wanted it. We played confident from there."
Mackenzie Feight led the charge against District 3 runner-up Garden Spot. The senior finished with 18 kills and eight digs.
Kylish put up similar stats with 17 kills and seven digs. The outside hitter also contributed 18 service points.
Brooke Adams (48 assists) also put forth a solid offensive effort, while Alyssa Adams and Brianna West combined for 12 kills for Southern Lehigh.
Miller was solid defensively at the net, coming up with four big blocks. West led the team in digs with 12, and Brooke Adams followed with 11.
The Spartans move on to the state championship, where they will take on District 3 champion Palmyra, which defeated Knoch in four sets in the other semifinal.
The 3A final will be played at Cumberland Valley High School on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
The second match of a PIAA semifinal doubleheader at Spring-Ford High School saw Parkland square off against District 1 powerhouse Bishop Shanahan.
The meeting marked the fourth-straight state semifinal for the two teams. For a third-straight year the unbeaten Eagles bested the Trojans, 3-0 [25-20, 25-14, 25-21].
While Shanahan looked dominant, Parkland committed uncommon errors throughout the match.
"We had a great practice yesterday. [The result] was not a question of effort," Parkland coach Mike Krause said. "We would go on a good run, then make an uncharacteristic mental error. We knew what to expect from [Bishop Shanahan]."
On offense, the Eagles looked unstoppable at times. Cara Shultz, who’s regarded as a top player in the state, put on a display of thunderous spikes. When the Trojans contained Shultz, the Eagles’ other hitters were next in line to score.
Parkland seniors Amber Resendez (8 kills) and Lauren Ceh (5 kills) both played with top-notch energy against the Eagles.
"I'm obviously disappointed, but I’m also really proud of the team," an emotional Resendez said. "I couldn’t have asked for a better program. And to follow all the girls who have made such an amazing legacy here at Parkland."
While Parkland (19-6) ended its season on a low note, Krause reflected on how much his team improved throughout the fall.
The Trojans will return numerous starters next season. Many of those players contributed throughout the season and against Shanahan.
Juniors Jackie Malitzki (18 assists, 7 digs), Leah Brunnabend (11 digs) and Emily Mohr (4 digs) all made their presence felt in the semifinals.
Sophomore Brynn Dreisbach proved to be a top player in the PIAA tournament, registering six kills and four digs. And Scarlett Jago, just a freshman, saw significant playing time and tallied four digs against the Eagles.
"We've come a long way. After losing nine seniors last year, we were still able to grow," Krause said. "The girls play with so much heart and they all really liked each other."
The Eagles advance to Saturday’s finals, where they will take on North Allegheny.
Dante Terenzio is a freelance writer.
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