BETHLEHEM In the opening game of Thursday's volleyball match between Lehighton and Bethlehem Catholic, the Indians looked unstoppable. They controlled the net, they forced their opponent into numerous costly mistakes, and they erupted into a 13-3 lead.
By the end of the night, though, that fury was brought under control by a bigger, more powerful opponent.
Bethlehem Catholic rallied for a 23-25, 25-19, 25-11, 25-9 victory in the quarterfinal round of the District 11 Class AA tournament.
The Indians led all through the first game and were ahead 9-8 early in the second game. But the rest of the night belonged to the defending District 11 champs.
It was the district opener for the two teams, who have both become perennials in post-season play.
The loss ends the season for the Tribe, who finished with a 13-6 record. The Golden Hawks have a 13-7 record and play again Tuesday.
Lehighton put up a good fight, but the Golden Hawks front three – Taylor Bennett, Kelsey Mowrey and Julie Kollar – proved to be the difference.
Kollar finished the night with six aces and 17 digs.
The dependable Taylor Yurasits was again one of Lehighton's strongest weapons, finishing with 15 assists, nine digs, one kill, and two aces.
Senior classmate Jackie Jordan had 10 kill and 10 digs. Another senior, Tiff Thompson, also had an outstanding night with three digs, six kills and four blocks.
"We got outsized. You can't teach tall," said Indians head coach TJ O'Conner. "We have no middle school feeder program like some club teams do. We were outskilled and outsized."
O'Conner said he was pleased to see his girls start out as potent as they did. Unfortunately the momentum didn't continue.
Paul Abi-Daher, the head coach for Bethlehem Catholic, commented, "We came off in the first set and picked up on their strategy. In the third and fourth, we picked up what we had learned."
"They're a good, scrappy team but they don't have the power hitters to put the game away," he said. "They're well-coached and well-disciplined."
In the first game, the Indians jumped out to a 7-1 lead. The kept the tempo going until they led by 10.
But Becahi showed its ability as it began coming back. The Golden Hawks got to within four, 18-14, but with Lehighton leading 24-23, Yurasits put the game away with a hard shot directly into a Becahi defender.
Game two started close and midway through it, the Hawks had only a 16-14 lead. The victors kept the pressure on and managed the win, scoring the game's final five points.
The last two games were pretty much controlled by Bethlehem Catholic.