Spartans oust Pleasant Valley
don herb/times news Pleasant Valley's Kiersten Griesback sest the ball.
WHITEHALL - Time and time again this season, the Pleasant Valley volleyball team has flexed its collective muscles and overpowered the opposition at the net.
On Tuesday in the District 11 Class AAA semifinals, the Bears got a taste of their own medicine.
Powerful Southern Lehigh, ranked 10th in the state and featuring a Division I recruit on its front line, blitzed the Bears, 25-15, 25-16, 25-14.
Pleasant Valley entered the match with an impressive 18-2 record, a pair of tournament championships and a Mountain Valley Conference title to its credit. But Melann Amory and the Spartans were too much to handle.
"Southern Lehigh is the best team we've played this year," said Pleasant Valley coach John Gesiskie. "We just don't get a chance to face this caliber of competition during the regular season. We've played Stroudsburg a number of times and they have a nice team and we faced Pottsville in a tournament and they were good too.
"But Southern Lehigh is in a different class. They have a superb program. Their junior high program has the girls ready for varsity ball when they enter high school and that makes a huge difference."
While the Bears' rotation features a number of frontline weapons in Courtney Miller, MacKenzie Dorney, Ashley Rivera, Bridget Lozier and Noel Kelly, they couldn't match Southern Lehigh's firepower.
Led by senior outside hitter Amory, who has signed with D-I Stony Brook, the Spartans bombarded Pleasant Valley with spike after spike.
Amory finished with 16 kills and also added eight digs. Jenna Forrester chipped in 12 kills for the Spartans, who had six different players finish off points at the net.
"We have a number of good hitters in our lineup, but we just couldn't match up with them," said Gesiskie. "Not only do they have a lot of weapons, but they have a go-to girl in Amory, which is a luxury not many teams have.
"She's such a great player and a powerful hitter. Anytime they need a point they can go to her."
In all three games, the Spartans used late service runs to turn relatively close battles into blowouts. In the opener, it was five straight service points by Forrester. In game two, Cassidy Gehring served six straight winners. In game three, it was seven straight points by Nicolette Yates.
"I thought Pleasant Valley played great defense," said Southern Lehigh coach Don West Jr. "They were one of the better defensive teams we faced all year.
"They did a nice job blocking us on a number of occasions, but I thought we stayed with it and eventually wore them down."
For the Bears (18-3), Miller and Kelly both had five kills, Lozier had four and Dorney and Rivera added three apiece. Lozier also came up with seven blocks. Katie Lenart chipped in 10 digs.
"I thought we actually played pretty well," said Dorney, who joins Miller and Rivera as the only seniors on this year's team. "But give Southern Lehigh credit. They are a very good team.
"Tonight's loss is tough. But when you look back at the entire season this is just a little thing compared to all the big things we accomplished. It's always disappointing when your season ends, but overall I thought we had a really successful year."