Posted/Updated: 5/10/2024 2:25:51 PM

Parkland boys volleyball returns to EPC final with sweep of Liberty

Published: May. 10, 2024, 6:23 a.m.

Liberty vs. Parkland in 2024 EPC boys volleyball semifinals

By Kyle Craig | For

Parkland High School's boys volleyball team has played two five-set matches this spring.

Now, the Trojans will get to replay both in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference tournament.

The first rematch went according to plan for top-seeded Parkland, which swept fourth-seeded Liberty 25-22, 25-21, 25-22 on Thursday night in the conference semifinals at Allen's Sewards Gymnasium.

The Trojans (15-3) advance to meet third-seeded Whitehall, a 3-1 winner over Emmaus, in the EPC final 6 p.m. Wednesday at Allen.

A lot had changed since Parkland, the defending PIAA Class 3A champion, defeated Liberty 3-2 during the season opener for both squads on March 18, according to coach Scott Trumbauer.

All that stuff could be thrown out the window. They had a whole year of playing together and meshing," he said. "They're an extremely good team, obviously. They wouldn't be here if they weren't. I was happy with the way we responded."

The Trojans featured a balanced attack all evening and took control of the first set when seniors Luke Smith, Alex Wilby, Brady Hayward and Owen Rodgers registered kills as part of a 6-1 run to take a 19-14 lead.

Smith scored again to close the set at 25-22.

Liberty (13-5), as it'd done in the opening frame, built a modest early lead in the second before Parkland pulled in front. A kill by Hayward gave the Trojans a 17-13 edge.

The Hurricanes, however, rallied to tie the contest at 20-20 thanks to a tip from senior Adam Mittl, a kill by sophomore Frank Benedetto and a Parkland hitting error.

Junior Josh Nation got the Trojans back on track with a kill and pair of aces, and Wilby provided the set-sealing point for a 25-21 win.

"He was effective from the outside and the back row all night," Trumbauer said of Nation. "We still have some room to grow. We still have some players that are normally in the mix and weren't as much tonight as they have been. But then, Brady Hayward stepped in today and had more offense than he normally does. The good news is that when we have somebody who doesn't maybe produce as much as normal, somebody else picks it up."

Parkland built a 20-15 advantage in Set 3 before back-to-back kills from Mittl and a pair of violations by the Trojans cut the lead to 21-20. Mittl scored two more times to bring the Hurricanes within one (22-21, 23-22), but Hayward and Nation closed the victory with kills.

Trumbauer was content with how his team handled Mittl, the EPC Most Valuable Player.

"Adam is going to get his kills, but we slowed him to a degree and picked up a lot of other balls, and transitioned and converted like we were looking to do," he said. "So, I was really happy."

"We did a really good job of identifying where their primary hitters were and doing our best to shut them down, and playing defense to transition out of that," Nation added.

Parkland, which is vying for its third straight conference title, can exact revenge for its only local loss when it meets Whitehall next week. The Trojans fell to the Zephyrs 3-2 on April 9.

"We're looking to avenge, obviously, a loss to them," Trumbauer said. "We just watched them play incredibly well tonight. They're scrappy ... We have to be prepared for long rallies and intense plays."

"It's something we've been looking forward to all year, hoping that we'd have an opportunity to do," Nation said about meeting Whitehall again. "We're definitely looking forward to it ... We're going to rest and then get back in the gym and work hard."

Kyle Craig may be reached at

Questions/Comments? Contact Scott Trumbauer