Lady Bears back on top
PATRICK DEUTSCH/TIMES NEWS Pleasant Valley's Paige Band (15) and Crystal Cambria goes up for the block against East Stroudsburg North.
EAST STROUDSBURG - It had been three years since the Pleasant Valley volleyball team hoisted the Mountain Valley Conference trophy.
Thursday night, this year's seniors got to feel its weight for the first time.
The top-seeded Bears took advantage of numerous East Stroudsburg North errors and went on to sweep the second-seeded Timberwolves, 25-17, 25-15, 25-14. It is the program's first MVC title since it won five straight from 2002 to 2006.
"We've been away from it for three years," said Pleasant Valley head coach John Gesiskie. "Last year we made a run at it. This year the girls were determined and they have come up big these last couple of weeks.
"It all came together. The coaches can always show the players what to do, but it's up to them to do it on the court. These girls did what they needed to do, especially this summer, and I am proud of them."
North opened things up with an ace and jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. Pleasant Valley responded immediately and came back to tie the score at four. The teams alternated points from there, as no team led by more than one point until the T'Wolves took a 15-13 lead.
Then, just as she had done twice in the semi-final match-up with Lehighton, senior Kayla Dorney led the Bears on a run. With her team down one, Dorney got some help from her teammates and ripped off ten straight service points to basically win game one for the locals.
"The first game is huge," said Gesiskie. "We have only lost one game all season in the MVC and it was to (North). So we were thinking, 'Here we go again.' But (North) called a timeout and I told the girls that they knew what they needed to do.
"The girls said they were going to do it now and they took over. That's what it is all about. They can sit on the bench all they want, but when they are out on the court they need to come together and tell each other what to do. They did a great job of that tonight."
Games two and three were much of the same. Dorney went on another eight-point run in game two to give Pleasant Valley an 11-4 lead. North wouldn't get within five the rest of the way.
Brittni Cumberland and Crystal Cambria helped the Bears to an early 9-2 lead in game three, as the seniors went on back-to-back four-point service runs. Again, the closest North would get was four (10-6), but ended up getting killed by its own errors.
The story of the night was the T'Wolves errors. They committed 44 unforced errors on the night, accounting for more than half of the Bears' points.
"It feels great," said Dorney, who finished with nine kills and four aces. "We worked so hard. It feels great to know that all of the hard work we put in through the entire season has paid off.
"I believe that every practice and every game is a stepping stone to the MVC championship game. We knew we needed to get it done and we came out strong."
Cumberland chipped in with 12 assists, two aces and two kills. She also served the match-clinching point at the end of game three.
"It was a complete team effort tonight," said Cumberland. "We put a lot of our heart and soul into this match.
"We knew we had some big shoes when we came in as freshman. We wanted to win the championship and we just pushed all season long."
Fellow Bear Breanna Joseph added six blocks, while Mackenzie Dorney had 10 digs.
Pleasant Valley put the exclamation on its perfect run through the MVC with its championship win. Gesiskie is hoping this will be the beginning of a new reign in the conference.
"None of these players had experienced a championship," said Gesiskie. "The girls that graduated last year were the last group to win one. Hopefully this will start a new era. The seniors are gone. They at least got their MVC title. Hopefully the younger girls can learn from this and grow."