Every time that the Lehighton and Pleasant Valley girls' volleyball teams get together, the level of play is heightened.
Last night proved to be no different as the two teams battled evenly throughout the course of the straight-set Lady Bear win. Even though the visitors won 25-15, 25-22, 25-23, the score fails to represent just how heated the competition was.
"Every time we come to this gym no matter the records of the teams Lehighton always seems to come up with a lot of good play," PV head coach John Gesiskie said after his team improved to 16-6 overall, 10-0 in the MVC. "It isn't a rivalry that gets ugly with yelling at each other and hatred at the end of it, either. It's clean. Both teams come out and play good, clean volleyball, and that's what the sport is all about. We always enjoy playing them."
In the first game, Lehighton was hurt by several errors that eventually led to its downfall, most notably on six serving errors.
"We struggle with serving," Lehighton head coach Rachel Quinn admits. "At the beginning of the year, we struggled with that part of our game, and as the year progressed, we got better with it. But tonight it came back to bite us."
Those miscues, along with the steady Pleasant Valley offensive attack, paved the way for a 25-15 first game win. With the Bears leading 14-11, Pleasant Valley's Crystal Cambria came up with a cross-court kill, Paige McKinsey had a strong serve and sophomore Breanna Joseph had a kill into open court to balloon the Lady Bear lead to 17-11 and they cruised from there for the opening-game victory.
"Volleyball is a game of mistakes and the team with the least amount of those mistakes is going to win," Gesiskie said. "Tonight, we seemed to have less errors in the beginning of this match."
As the second game began, things continued to be heated between the two squads, as there were several lead changes early on.
Debra Lobien served two of her team-high four aces to help the Indians gain a 16-14 lead that they eventually increased to 19-15.
However, PV's Joseph and MacKenzie Dorney both came on to help their team regain the lead and eventually pull out the second game, 25-22. Dorney's two kills and a kill and a block by Joseph proved to be the difference.
"I just get in the zone, I'm focused on the ball and I just want to get that point for my team," Joseph said.
In the third game, LHS took early leads of 4-1 and 8-4 and eventually built its largest lead of the night at 15-9, only to see the plague of errors creep in again.
Trailing 20-16, Pleasant Valey reeled off six straight points as Joseph pounded two kills and a block and MacKenzie Dorney put two kills away for a 22-21 lead that the Bears turned into a narrow victory
"All of us communicate well and work together great," Joseph said. "Whenever one of us is down, we're there for each other to bring each other back up. It's just a great team effort."
In the match, Pleasant Valley was led by Joseph with 10 kills and six digs. Kayla Dorney added seven kills and nine digs; Brittni Cumberland had 19 assists, six digs and two kills; Andrea Giardina had 12 digs; MacKenzie Dorney had 11 digs and five kills.
For Lehighton, Debra Lobien had 10 assists, four kills and four aces;Jess Lobien had four kills and 15 digs; Lauren McCullion chipped in 20 digs; and Anne Zurn had four kills.