When it comes to the game of volleyball, most of the time it is the team that makes the least amount of mistakes that ends up winning the match.
Thursday night, Pleasant Valley made the fewest errors and came out on top.
Pleasant Valley outlasted Lehighton in a battle of young, inexperienced squads and swept the Indians, 27-25, 25-13, 26-24 in Mountain Valley Conference play.
The Bears came in to the match undefeated in the conference, but that didn't stop Lehighton from giving them all they could handle. In the end, the Indians made some mistakes at some key moments and came up short on the scoreboard.
"We are a very young team," said Lehighton head coach TJ O'Connor. "I think the difference between us and Pleasant Valley is that they have been playing together for a while. Their girls have played club ball together and our girls are kind of just coming together now. We haven't really learned how to win yet as a team.
"We came out and played hard tonight, but it is a matter of being able to make the big play. If we make an overpass for a kill here, we make a dig there, maybe we are going five games tonight. There is no such thing as a good loss, but this is as close as it gets."
Game one was back-and-forth throughout. Neither team led by more than three points at any time and the score waseventually knotted at 25. P
Breanna Joseph made a big kill to put the Bears ahead by one, and then tapped a nice drop shot over an Indian blocker on the very next play to win the game. Joseph finished with 12 kills and six blocks on the night.
"This year we are basically going to ride our two middles, Joseph and Courtney Miller," admitted Pleasant Valley coach John Gesiskie. "Those two are big. We want to get it to the middle as much as we can, but we will move them around a little bit."
Pleasant Valley used the momentum it had gained from game one and started out game two on fire. The Bears jumped out to a 7-1 lead before O'Connor called timeout. Andrea Giardina and Mackenzie Dorney each tallied four service points apiece and pushed their lead to 8-1. Lehighton wouldn't get closer than five (15-10) and went on to lose 25-13.
Still, game three was another battle as the Indians refused to give up. Pleasant Valley jumped out to an early 6-1 lead only to have Lehighton come back and tie the game at 11. It would be neck-and-neck until the finish yet again. But mistakes killed the Indians' rally and cost them the winning points.
"When we come to Lehighton it is always a tough match," said Gesiskie. "It is their home court and they always seem to step it up here. It is a small gym atmosphere and it can get really loud. It may have affected us early on, but fortunately we were able to get over that."
Miller led the Bears (7-4, 4-0) with nine blocks to go along with her nine kills. Dorney added ten digs, while Griesback dished out 11 assists.
Lehighton (2-5, 1-4) was led by sophomore Jackie Jordan. Jordan recorded nine digs, six kills and two blocks. Fellow sophomore Tiffany Thompson chipped in with eight kills and two blocks. Libero Natalie Zurn did her job to perfection with 24 digs.
While Pleasant Valley will almost assuredly vie for the MVC championship yet again, Lehighton is focused on progressing as a team and getting better day by day.
"We have a saying," said O'Connor. "It is 'Did you work your hardest today?' All summer long we were stressing that. When they go home at night can they say that they worked their hardest. I told them that the wins will start to come if they go home and say that they have worked their hardest.
"I think tonight we did that. I think the reason game two go out of hand was because we are a young team and had an emotional letdown after the first game. But the fact that they fought back and got their heads back in it for the third game is a real tribute to them."