Lehighton sweeps Pleasan Valley
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Lehighton's Sheena White passes the ball during Wednesday's match with Pleasant Valley.
Last year the Lehighton volleyball team swept Pleasant Valley for the first time in school history.
Wednesday night, the Lady Indians duplicated their performance from last October.
For the second time in as many contests, Lehighton swept Pleasant Valley in three tight games, 25-19, 25-23, 25-22 in Mountain Valley Conference play. The Indians defeated the Bears for the first time ever back on Sept. 20, 2007 and have won all five of their head-to-head battles since.
"It shows that we are making great improvements since the beginning of the season," said Lehighton head coach Rachel Quinn on her team's ability to pull out three tough games. "We got off to a little lull, but we have been working real hard in practice. It just shows that the girls are becoming mentally tough. That is something we have struggled with before and have been working on this year."
The first game unfolded evenly. An ace from Sheena White and a kill from a teammate put the Indians up 12-7 They would go up 16-8 before Pleasant Valley head coach John Gesiskie was forced to call a timeout. Junior Kayla Dorney led the Bears on a run with some monster spikes, but they never got close enough to take the lead. White picked up the last two service points, including an ace to end it.
Pleasant Valley seemed to bounce back in the opening moments of the second match. Two kills by Dorney and another from Brittni Cumberland helped Priya Patel pick up seven service points in a row as the Bears took a 7-2 lead.
But Lehighton did not go away and made it a game of runs. The Indians fought back and managed to tie the game at 11 before Pleasant Valley took another lead (17-12). Again, the Indians stormed back to take a 19-17 lead thanks to some timely serving from Jessica Lobien. The match would be knotted at 19 and 21 before Lehighton pulled away. A Bears serve into the net gave the Indians the two-point victory.
That was not the only mistake Pleasant Valley made on the night. Important serves and vollies were often hit into the net or out of bounds and cost the Bears some important points. The miscues can be chalked up to youth and inexperience. Gesiskie has just two seniors on his team to go along with nine juniors, six sophomores and seven freshmen.
"We have probably changed our lineup four times since our last match," admitted Gesiskie. "Serving is crucial. Both teams made some serving mistakes. We just made more than (Lehighton) did. We are not as young as we were last year, but we are inexperienced.
"I'll take tonight as a moral victory. The girls won't. But the MVC isn't won or lost right now. All you have to do is make that four-team tournament and anything can happen."
Patel once again tried to keep her Bears in game three with seven service points, but White and her fellow Indians were too strong. White had some devastating kills of her own, including a spike to seal the match. She finished with nine kills, four digs and three aces.
Dorney led Pleasant Valley (9-3, 3-1) with 18 kills. She also had five digs, two assists and two blocks. Patel recorded 19 assists and 10 digs. Teammate Justine Maresca had 10 digs as well.
Madeline Zurn and Debra Lobien led Lehighton with 14 and nine assists respectively. Molly Harleman added 11 kills and 10 digs.
"If we keep progressing like the way that we are now, we will definitely be ready and more prepared for districts than we were last year," said Quinn. "We are more focused.
"Our attacking of the net has improved. Our setting is improving. Our defense was a little weak tonight, but we have been rather solid in our other contests. It is just a matter of putting all the pieces together."