It’d been nearly two months since the Parkland High School boys volleyball team found itself trailing by a set.
“I’m definitely happy with the way that we came back from that,” junior setter William Stiles said. “It’s normal to lose a set every once and a while. Emmaus is a great team; we’re a great team. I’m really proud of how we responded and took charge.”
Top-seeded Parkland bounced back and defeated second-seeded Emmaus 24-26, 25-17, 25-22, 25-22 in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference final at Allen’s Sewards Gymnasium. It’s the Trojans’ second consecutive conference title.
Parkland has now won 51 of the 55 sets its played this spring. Prior to Wednesday, it had only dropped an opening set once (vs. Pennridge in March).
After losing an early four-point lead and dropping the opening stanza, the Trojans (17-0) surged to a 10-3 advantage in the second frame on a kill by senior outside hitter Chase Robbins.
“We knew they were going to fight, because we beat them last time by a good amount,” said Robbins, referencing Parkland’s regular-season sweep of the Green Hornets. “We knew they were going to come in very strong. After (the first set), we had to fight.”
A tip by Emmaus junior Jametric Harris cut the Trojans’ advantage to 21-15, but consecutive points by Parkland sophomore Joshua Nation and Robbins put the top seed back in the driver’s seat.
While the Trojans managed a comfortable advantage in the second segment, it was a hustle play by junior defensive specialist Ahmad Jaffer that gave coach Scott Trumbauer a good feeling about his team’s mentality. Jaffer scrambled to save a ball near the bench that he easily could have written off.
“That is a championship point, and that was in the second set,” Trumbauer said. “I had a feeling then, that if he was thinking that way, the others are going to follow him ... That’s huge for us.”
An illegal hit by Parkland gave Emmaus a 19-18 lead in the third set. The Hornets (16-2) committed a service error to tie the score, and Robbins put the ball on the floor for back-to-back points, pushing the Trojans ahead 21-19.
“We were making mistakes every once and a while, but we were keeping our heads up and moving our momentum forward by being positive,” Stiles said.
Emmaus sophomore Colin Holden cut Parkland’s advantage to 24-22, but a mishit gave the Trojans the set at 25-22.
The ultimate set told a similar story as the Hornets were neck-and-neck with their rivals before the Trojans’ final push. Robbins smashed consecutive kills off the block to turn a 19-19 score into a 21-19 edge for the defending champs.
A kill by Emmaus junior Cael Kratzer trimmed the deficit to 24-22. Robbins, fittingly, provided the gold-medal point for Parkland at 25-22.
Robbins was stellar on Wednesday night, pacing the Parkland offense and scoring from spots across the floor.
“He’s our leader,” Trumbauer said. “He leads us in statistics in pretty much every category. He’s our primary serve-receiver. He’s our go-to on offense and everybody knows it, and he still will produce.”
Trumbauer admitted that he holds a high standard for the senior, considering how much responsibility falls upon the outside hitter.
“I have to realize he’s making one or two poor decisions out of 60 ... We put a lot on his shoulders, but he continues to deliver for us,” the coach said. “... He’s going to be missed immensely next year when he’s not on the court for us. Hopefully, someone is watching him and wants to be the next Chase.”
“He’s very talented,” Stiles added about Robbins. “We like to use him as much as we can. He’s a very dynamic hitter. He’s very smart and always hitting his spots. It’s helpful when I have a chance to use him in clutch scenarios.”
Robbins applauded the Trojans’ play across the board.
“Our passing, our serve-receive and our defense played really well today,” he said. “We also served really well and kept it aggressive all the time.”
The Trojans block often forced the Hornets to resort to tips and pushes rather than full swings.
“They have incredible offensive weapons, and if they’re in system and setting the ball up where they want to, they’re going to get points,” Trumbauer said.
Parkland, which will be the No. 1 seed in the District 11 Class 3A tournament, won’t play again until the D-11 semifinals on May 30.
Managing the layoff and maintaining momentum will be key if the Trojans want to keep their record unblemished.
“This is a huge win before districts, and it’ll help us push through,” Robbins said.
Kyle Craig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.