Strong finish lifts Lady Raiders to win
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Tamaqua's Kelsey Burkett goes high to set up a teammate as Panther Valley's Celene Yelito waits on the defense.
It's not always how a team starts a game that may lead them to victory.
Sometimes what matters most is the way the team ends the game.
In a Schuylkill Division cross-over girls' volleyball match between Tamaqua and Panther Valley, it was the latter that helped the Tamaqua girls capture a 25-21, 25-17, 25-20 league win in straight sets.
It was an unusual turn of events for the Blue Raiders, but senior Stacey Wallace was glad to see her and her teammates put together a strong finish.
"It was very close at the end of every game," said Wallace, who ended with 11 kills and three blocks. "Usually, we're not a team that holds it together to end a game. Instead, we always start out good. But today we definitely pulled together as a team and knew what we had to do stay focused. It is our number one goal and we really did pull it out in the end."
The Blue Raiders started the first game with a 5-0 run thanks to strong serving by senior Paige Baddick, who finished with 11 service points and 23 assists. Some sloppy play by the Panthers also helped the run.
Shortly after, the Panthers battled back to force three ties and three lead changes. But once Panther Valley knotted the game at 20-20, the Blue Raiders attacked the net and finished strong by scoring four of the last five points on the offensive. Wallace ended the first game with one of her 11 kills.
In the second game, the Panthers took a 1-0 lead after a Blue Raider hit went out of bounds. The Raiders tied the game up for the first of four times (1-1, 8-8, 15-15, and 16-16). After the last tie however, the Raiders ripped off 11 of their next 12 points on the attack to win game two.
It was the way Tamaqua head coach Stacy Setlock wanted to see her team adjust to Panther Valley's plays throughout the game.
"Panther Valley definitely gave us a run in each game," Setlock said. "(The Panthers) finished strong. When they had a push, they pushed. When we came into the huddle, we let the kids know what was going on and what spots were open. That's one thing about this team when you tell them where to put the ball, they put the ball in that spot.
"They are very good with communication and helping each other out. That helped them pull it out to end each game."
In the third and final game, it was the Raiders that jumped to a quick 4-1 lead. But the Panthers only let the Raiders take as much as a three-point lead before they knotted the game at 16-16 and then again at 18-18.
Tamaqua went on to end the game, as Wallace nailed another kill.
It wasn't the way Panther Valley coach Nancy Filer wanted things to go with her Panthers.
"We played tough," Filer said. "The ball just went their way all night. We're young. We will get there."
Tamaqua moves to 3-1 in Schuylkill League Division I play, while Panther Valley slips to 3-2 in Division II play.
"I really enjoyed playing against Panther Valley," said Tamaqua senior Sarah Paluck, who recorded 12 service points, eight kills and three aces. "I do every year. This year we came out in the end.
"I'm really proud of my teammates because we have been fighting against Panther Valley, which is a rival every year. I think we kept our head on our shoulders and came out on top."
Stephanie Kachelries led the Panthers with eight digs, seven service points and four kills, while Chrissy Micholik (11 kills), Amy Yusella (seven kills) and Jess Snisky (six service points, three aces) chipped in with some fine numbers.