|Posted/Updated: 5/25/2022 11:07:09 AM|
Parkland boys volleyball exorcises demons from last spring, captures EPC championship
The Parkland boys volleyball team entered the 2021 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference tournament as the top-seed, but fell just short of the title after dropping a back-and-forth five set thriller to rival Emmaus in the championship.
In this year’s league title match, the Trojans used that anguish as motivation and came away with their first EPC crown since 2016.
Third-seeded Parkland defeated top-seeded Northampton 25-18, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21 Friday night on Donmoyer Court at Sewards Gym.
Junior Chase Robbins delivered the winning kill for the Trojans (17-4), just managing to power his hit past the Konkrete Kids block.
“It felt really amazing. It felt really good,” Robbins said of the winning kill. “All of this, the crowd, the medals, it’s a great time.”
Robbins, an EPC second-team selection, recorded 21 kills and 20 assists.
“We were hyped for this game since we lost EPC’s back in 2021,” Robbins said. “It feels really amazing... Since we lost in 2021, we really wanted to win this one.”
“He’s one of the top players in the area, without a doubt,” Parkland coach Scott Trumbauer said of Robbins. “I was on his case hard tonight on the few errors that he had tonight because I know he can perform at a flawless level. He performed at a near-flawless level and it was really important for us.”
The Trojans led 20-19 in the fourth set and, after a timeout, won five of the final six rallies thanks to four kills and a block from Robbins.
“I think we got our energy back up. We took a little break, took a breather and refocused again,” Robbins said.
The strong finish to the EPC title was a stark contrast to the loss to Emmaus in 2021, when the Green Hornets won three straight points to take the fifth set 15-12.
“Just being able to fight off their good run in the third set and push in the fourth set was just a credit to the guys and their mindset of wanting to earn this, especially because we lost last year,” Trumbauer said.
Parkland stayed in control for most of the first and second sets with a commitment to blocking on the inside that disrupted Northampton’s rhythm.
“We knew that we had to keep up that block, especially with their middles, their middles are their strongest players. If we don’t contain their middles, then they’re just going to run right through us, but we were able to contain them and we were able to stop them,” senior middle hitter Adam Pursell said.
Pursell tallied five kills and four blocks while sophomore middle hitter Luke Smith added seven kills and four blocks.
“Just getting that lead, we just kept staying in offense. Just non-stop, setting our outsides, middle and everywhere, they didn’t know where we were going the whole time. We were able to just get around that block and put the ball down,” Pursell said.
The Trojans won 9 of the last 13 rallies to close out the second and jump out to a 2-0 lead.
“You have to hand it to Parkland. They served us short, took us out of our quick system off of serve-receive and then just started taking it to the pins and we just couldn’t stop them, our block just wasn’t getting to where it needed to get,” Northampton coach Susan Ardnt said. “It’s going to be hard, it’s going to sting.
The Konkrete Kids (18-2), playing in their first championship game since they lost in the 2014 Lehigh Valley Conference championship to Parkland, responded in the third set behind stellar play from senior setter Keller Repasch
Repasch had two kills and two blocks in the third set and set fellow senior Johnny Martinez on the set-point. Repasch finished with 36 assists, eight kills, eight digs and four blocks.
“We will see them again,” Ardnt said. “The biggest lesson is that we’ve gotta create more one on ones. They keyed on our middle blockers, which has been the most effective all season long. Once they keyed on that, then we’ve gotta learn to get to the pins. That’s the biggest thing.”
Trumbauer, the 2021 lehighvalleylive Boys Volleyball Coach of the Year, agreed that the match was heavily influenced by tactical changes.
“We know where their heavy hitters are and I told them, ‘If we can get our bodies in front of their bodies, we’ll slow things down.’ They were trying to make adjustments and we were able to make adjustments to those. It was like a cat and mouse game.”
“If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what we’d do,” Pursell said of Trumbauer.
Seniors Matt Bauer (12 kills), Lukas Dashukewich (9 kills), Azhar Sumar (16 digs) and sophomore Will Stiles Parkland (27 assists) all contributed for Parkland. The Trojans will now look to defend their District 11 Class 3A title as the tournament’s top seed.
Questions/Comments? Contact Scott Trumbauer