POTTSVILLE In the real world, the proverbial "Little Engine That Could" sometimes comes up disappointed.

Panther Valley was the "Little Engine," fighting an uphill battle throughout the night against Pottsville Nativity in a volleyball game last night at Martz Hall. The determined battlin' Panthers just couldn't top the crest, though.

They fell 3-0 against the undefeated Green Wave in the Schuylkill League semifinals.

The three-set matchup, lasting an hour, ended with Nativity winning 25-13, 25-15, and 25-18.

For Panther coach Nancy Filer, who is in her 10th year of coaching, this is the first time she took a team to the league playoffs.

"We had spurts," Filer said. "We had times when we looked good. The team really wanted it."

Nativity, which is now 17-0 for the season and has lost just two sets the entire season, clearly outgunned the Valley squad.

PV (13-4) led only twice the whole night. The first time was in the opening set when sophomore Deanna Focht sent a stinging line drive into the Nativity seven. The score was 1-0.

At the start of the third set, the Black-and-Gold were repeadedly challenged in the net and answered with three points, taking a 3-0 lead.

Nativity coach Maria Serina, a 1999 graduate of Marian Catholic, said she feels the difference was the ability of Nativity to distribute the ball to several attackers. "We tried to be as precise as possible with passes to run our quick-tempo offense," she said.

Causing damage throughout the night were Nativity's power players Emilie Baker and Emily Grube. Baker had 13 kills and 12 digs. Grube had seven kills and 11 digs.

Courtney Field had 28 assists and 12 digs for the winners.

Key players for Panther Valley were senior Tricia Janowiak, who had 10 kills, two service points, nd five digs; sophomore Amy Yusella who had four kills, three service points, and six digs; senior co-captain Carly Markovich with three kills, 15 assists, and six points; senior co-captain Katie Zulic with three kills, one service point, and four digs, and Focht with one kill, six blocks, and three service points.

The Panthers produced serious challenges in every set.

In the first game, they were down by an 8-6 margin before the Green Wave became a tidal situation, jumping into a 14-8 lead, 19-10 advantage, and then reaching the 25-13 final score.

Game 2 looked bleak for PV as the Green team lead 8-2, and then 12-5.

Markovich got into two net duels and came out the winner in both, and sophomore Chriss Micholik provided one of her two kills and the Panthers were down by only four points. For awhile the two squads dueled and with Nativity leading only 15-13, Serina called a timeout. When the Wave returned to the court, they overpowered PV 10-2 to emerge victorious.

Baker was her most potent at the start of set three, and helped Nativity take an 8-3 lead. Again PV fought back. Focht gained a net advantage against Baker, then Yusella fired a whizzing shot that couldn't be returned, and PV was back in the game, 10-7.

But again Nativity turned the heat on and pulled away to win by a seven point margin.