There's no doubt the Stroudsburg volleyball team has achieved a great deal of success this season, compiling a 14-5 overall record and an 11-1 mark in the Mountain Valley Conference. Individually, Mounties' senior Sarah Fillman was named league MVP.
The same could be said for a Lehighton squad that went 13-5 and 8-4 in the MVC.
The regular season success of both teams put the two evenly matched two squads on a collision course in the semifinals of the Mountain Valley Conference volleyball tournament, where the Mounties entered as the second seed while the Lady Indians took the third seed.
With little room for error on either side, Stroudsburg limited its mistakes and capitalized on Lehighton's errors en route to a 25-20, 25-15, 25-20 win to advance to the finals against Pleasant Valley on Monday.
"I'm very proud of them. They've been working very hard and we were able to do it without our starting middle," Stroudsburg coach Anna Spangler said of Fillman's absence. "I'm really proud of them that they were able to pull through and win without her."
Fillman's absence also created a leadership void, leaving the Mounties with only one other senior on the roster. But several underclassmen stepped up and took advantage of opportunities created by several Lehighton errors.
"They put the ball in play, which we didn't do," said Lehighton coach TJ O'Connor. "We had a lot of hitting errors tonight; a lot of service errors; a lot of mistakes at inopportune times.
"We just didn't play like a team with experience. We played like a team that wasn't very experienced and was nervous. Frankly, it looked like we weren't prepared for tonight."
Lehighton will regroup and focus on the District 11 Class AA playoffs that begin next week with a fresh start in mind.
"We're going to go back at it tomorrow, that's all you can do," O'Connor said. "We're going to get after it and start to practice again; just move on from this and see what happens next."
What's next for Stroudsburg is a chance to redeem a late season loss against rival Pleasant Valley that gave the Lady Bears the regular season MVC title and the number one seed in the tournament.
"We need to come out strong from the beginning and push through all three sets," Spangler said. "We got them (Pleasant Valley) once in the beginning of the year but they got us at the end. We just need to come out, play our game and stay focused."