Bears advance to semifinals
For the Pleasant Valley volleyball team, the District 11 quarterfinal round game against Stroudsburg on Thursday was nothing short of a rollercoaster ride.
It wasn't pretty early, but the Lady Bears rallied to come back from a 2-1 deficit to take the match in five games. Stroudsburg took the first set, 25-21, and the third set, 25-23, with the Bears taking the second (25-22), fourth (25-10) and final game (15-12) to advance to the District 11 Class AAA semifinals.
Just three days before Pleasant Valley swept the Mounties 3-0 to win the Mountain Valley Conference title, but there's an old saying in sports that says it's hard to beat a good team three times in one season.
Thursday marked the fourth meeting between the Bears and Mounties this season with Pleasant Valley taking three out of four.
"It's always tough to beat a good team back-to-back, but I think what's even more difficult is coming out against a team that has nothing to lose," said Pleasant Valley coach John Gesiskie. "I think that's the mentality most teams would take after losing to the team they're facing in the playoffs just three days ago. So they're going to play loose. On our side you have to make sure you're focused and obviously it took us a little while to get going today."
Stroudsburg came out playing exactly how Gesiskie thought it would. They answered every call in the first, pulling away from a 20-20 tie to get a 25-21 game one victory.
The second was a back-and-forth affair as well with both teams almost going point for point until around the 20-point mark again. Three aces by Kalli Walling were the deciding factor in game two, helping the Bears get a 25-22 win.
In the third game, Stroudsburg looked like it wanted it more than Pleasant Valley. Seven kills by Mounties senior Sarah Fillman gave Stroudsburg a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth game.
This is where Pleasant Valley showed why it is MVC Champions. The Bears came out with a vengeance in the fourth game, getting out to a 15-6 lead. Middle hitter Courtney Miller made her presence felt in the fourth, coming up with four kills and a block to help Pleasant Valley knot things up at two games a piece with a 25-10 win.
"These are the kind of games you like to coach and these are the kind of games that people like to see," said Gesiskie. "Everybody has to give their best in this type of game and it took us a little while to have that mentality tonight. This was definitely one of the most exciting games of the season. Plus, anytime you can win in five games, especially in the playoffs, it's a great test of your team's character."
The Lady Bears certainly showed in the fifth and deciding set that they have high character.
Two kills by Miller to start the set and seven errors by the Mounties gave Pleasant Valley the momentum it needed to come away with a 15-12 victory.
With the victory, the Bears face Southern Lehigh at Whitehall High School at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Ashley Rivera and Bridget Lozier led the Lady Bears with 12 kills apiece. Lozier also added eight blocks.
Miller collected 10 kills and eight blocks. Mackenzie Dorney tallied nine kills and 21 digs, while freshman Noel Kelly had nine kills and five blocks.