BETHLEHEM - Two days after winning its first Mountain Valley Conference championship in four years, the Pleasant Valley volleyball team had to turn around quickly and participate in districts.
The fourth-seeded Lady Bears opened with an early-morning loss to Pottsville and eventually fell to Parkland to end their hopes of moving on to the AAAA semi-finals. The Bears defeated Liberty in between their two losses and finished the day 1-2. Since the district playoffs moved to a pool play format in 2005, Pleasant Valley has yet to advance past the opening day.
"I think we came in here in the early morning and we weren't ready to play," said Pleasant Valley head coach John Gesiskie. "Pottsville also had two big hitters that we weren't expecting. We haven't seen them in a couple of years, so we weren't familiar with them. They played well and we just made some key mistakes."
Pleasant Valley pretty much knew it had to win both of its first two matches against Pottsville and Liberty if it wanted to advance. Waiting for the Bears in their last match was top-seeded Parkland, who was ranked in the top-five in the state.
Pleasant Valley began play a little after 9 a.m. against No. 5 Pottsville. The locals fought hard, but were swept in three games by the Crimson Tide, 25-20, 25-20, 25-23. Senior Brittni Cumberland led the Bears with 13 assists, while fellow senior Kayla Dorney added nine digs, six aces and five kills.
The Bears rebounded in their next match by knocking off No. 8 Liberty, 25-8, 25-22, 25-18. It was a combination of Pleasant Valley playing better and Liberty shooting itself in the foot with unforced errors.
Needed two wins to advance, Pleasant Valley knew it was in for a tough time with the Trojans. The Bears were just out-matched and were swept, 25-9, 25-10, 25-21.
"I told the girls to go out and play their best," said Gesiskie. "I told them they haven't played a team of this caliber. Parkland is No. 4 in the state. Unless we make it out of districts we won't see a quality team like this.
"I was happy with what they attempted to do other than their serves. That's something that they can always control. Parkland had some super hitters out there. We were close in the third game when they had their second string in, so it was nice to force them to put their starters back in."
Although his team ended the season on a sour note in districts, Gesiskie was pleased with their play throughout the year. The Bears won their first conference title since 2006 and finished the year with over 20 wins.
"I was happy with our season," said Gesiskie. "We finished up 21-8 overall after today, so that's a nice record.
"To go through the MVC as quickly as we did was pretty cool. I expected have some more trouble but the girls stepped it up. We didn't lose a MVC game since the first one of the season. I was happy with that."