Lehighton doesn't officially become a member of the Schuylkill League until next season.
However, last night, the Indians had no trouble making their presence felt by giving Jim Thorpe an early preview of what lies ahead.
The introduction was cordial, yet brief, as Lehighton posted a 25-20, 25-19, 25-18 nonleague victory over the host Olympians.
The win improves the Indians to 7-2 on the season, while Jim Thorpe drops to 5-7 after pulling off a huge five-game victory over Panther Valley just 24 hours prior.
"I can't say enough about the coaching job that Erin Kuhn and her sister Caitlin Thompson have done here in the past couple of years," lauded Lehighton head coach TJ O'Connor. "Their program has come a long way – they play great defense, they serve receive well, and they should be proud of their efforts."
The Olympians managed early leads in all three contests, but the experience and maturity of Lehighton (a senior-laden team) eventually prevailed.
In the first game, Jim Thorpe led 9-8, but a Kayla Troutman service run put the Indians ahead 13-9. The Olympians closed the deficit to 19-17, but the Indians closed out the scoring on a 6-3 run behind four kills from Troutman and a service ace from Maria Magyar.
In game two, Lehighton battled back from a 16-14 deficit and with the game tied at 18-18, it was Holly Hinkle's serving (three aces in a five-point service run) and Tiff Thompson's net play (two kills) that finally gave the Indians some breathing room.
"We tried to get a lot of girls into the match tonight and we used quite a bit of substitutions in order to get some experience for our younger players," added O'Connor. "Our older girls were a little sloppy off the net and our passing wasn't that great; however, it was nice to see that when the games were close, we were able to execute an effective offense and score some points. Anytime you can earn a nonleague sweep against a Schuylkill League opponent is a good night."
Showing no quit, the Olympians jumped out to a 7-4 lead in the third game. However, a kill by Jackie Jordan and a six-point service run (including four aces) by the senior co-captain, put Lehighton ahead 11-7. Jordan had six of her game-high 15 kills in the third game. The Indians lead eventually swelled to 19-10 behind three Maria Magyar aces and three Tiff Thompson kills.
Even though Lehighton shot itself in the foot with 14 service errors (and 17 hitting errors), the Indians also scored 19 of their points off service aces.
"For one reason or another, we just didn't seem to be motivated to play volleyball tonight and that prevented us from establishing any kind of momentum," stated Jim Thorpe head coach Erin Kuhn. "Lehighton has good servers, but I also thought our serve receive was off tonight, and it's hard to beat a good team when you're constantly giving them free points."
Jackie Jordan led Lehehighton with 19 points (15 kills, four aces and six digs), while Kayla Troutman and Tiff Thompson tallied seven kills apiece. Setter and senior co-captain Taylor Yurasits also dished off 26 assists.
"I thought Taylor (Yurasits) had a great night. She really is the heart and soul of our team," concluded O'Connor. "She hustles every play, gets after bad passes and really just finds a way to get the balls to our hitters. She played hard tonight, just like she does every night, and she's someone that we're really going to miss when she graduates."
For Jim Thorpe, Riley Carroll accounted for six kills and nine assists. Mackenzie Walck tallied five kills and two blocks, while libero Dara Conte added 12 digs.
Lehighton also pulled off a sweep in the JV contest, 25-16, 25-12.