Pleasant Valley fails to advance
ROB MERCHANT/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Pleasant Valley's Crystal Cambria (17) and Breanna Joseph go up to block a Whitehall attack.
BETHLEHEM - There were no surprises during the pool play portion of the District 11 Class AAA volleyball tournament on Saturday at Bethlehem Liberty High School.
The top four seeds - Allentown Central Catholic, Emmaus, Nazareth and Parkland - all advanced to Monday's semifinal round.
Pleasant Valley was only area team taking part in tourney. The Bears, who swept East Stroudsburg North in a qualifying round match on Friday to earn a berth in the eight-team field, went 0-3 in round-robin play.
Pleasant Valley, Central Catholic, Parkland and Whitehall comprised Pool A. The Bears got the unenviable task of facing the Vikings and Trojans, who are ranked fourth and fifth respectively in the state, in their first two matches.
"We have some very high caliber volleyball played in District 11," said Pleasant Valley coach John Gesiskie. "Year in and year out, there are Lehigh Valley teams competing for or winning state championships.
"This year is no different. Central Catholic and Parkland are both outstanding teams. They have great size, they are extremely athletic, and they are strong. Our girls played hard, but we're just not quite at that level."
Central Catholic swept Pleasant Valley, 25-11, 25-8, 25-11 in their opening match. The Bears had just four kills in the entire match, two of them by Steph Stone.
In their next match against Parkland, the Bears fell, 25-11, 25-10, 25-12. PV was able to generate a little bit more of an attack against the Trojans as Kayla Dorney and freshman Breanna Joseph both had three kills and Emily Safer added two kills. Dorney also chipped in a pair of blocks. Justine Maresca led the way defensively with seven digs.
Pleasant Valley had already been eliminated from any chance of advancing to the semifinals when it took the court for its third match against Whitehall.
The Bears did manage to pull out a game against the Zephyrs, falling 25-18, 25-16, 21-25. Dorney had 10 kills and nine digs in the match while Priya Patel (18 assists, two aces); Joseph (seven kills, two blocks); Maresca (10 digs) and Crystal Cambria (two kills) also played well.
"We were a lot more competitive against Whitehall," said Gesiskie. "We had no chance of advancing, but I still wanted us to work hard, have fun and play to the best of our ability. I thought we did that."
The Bears finished the season with a 20-13 record and accomplished a number of goals they had set prior to the season.
"We had just two seniors (Patel and Maresca) on our roster and will have nine returnees with varsity experience next season," said Gesiskie. "We made it to the Mountain Valley Conference championship match, we reached the pool play stage of the district tournament for the first time since 2006, and we won a game there.
"You always strive for more, but overall it was a pretty successful season. With what we have coming back next season, we are expecting even better things."