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Panther Valley volleyball falls to New Hope-Solebury at states

Nine points.

That’s all that separated Panther Valley from advancing to the PIAA Volleyball Tournament.

The Panthers fell to New Hope-Solebury 25-20, 26-24, 25-23 in a Class 2A subregional match Thursday night.

With little room for error, Panther Valley (17-2) was unable to find the same consistency that helped them capture Schuylkill League Division II and District 11 titles this season.

“We just made too many mistakes,” said Panther Valley head coach Nancy Filer. “If any night was not the night to make mistakes, it was tonight.

“We didn’t swing as hard in the first two games,” said Filer. “I think we were trying to get through them, and not win them.”

And the Lions took advantage.

New Hope-Solebury (21-3) utilized a balanced attack, one that went through sophomore Katie Costello.

“She (Costello) hits through, and around, and up, and over,” Lions head coach Roy Watson said of Costello. “And that’s the thing, she threw a couple. She usually does not do that often, so their block was kind of working on her a little bit.

“But we pulled her aside and said, just keep swinging. And if they block you, they block you. Find a hole. Find a seam. Find a place to put the ball. And she does a good job with that.”

Costello finished with 17 kills.

For Panther Valley, Jenna Dubosky had 14 assists, 12 kills, seven service points (three aces) and four digs. Erika Dubosky recorded 15 digs and eight kills, and Rachelle Filer added seven blocks, six kills and two service points.

Panther Valley rallied in the final two sets. The Panthers led 24-23 before dropping the second set, and tied the third set at 22-22 before New Hope-Solebury closed out the match.

“The ending, the third game, they had to kick it in and they did,” Filer said. “They came back and they were swinging and hitting.

“They did calm down and came back, because we were losing by a bundle. They finally started swinging to win, but it was too late.”

As Panther Valley tried to find its rhythm, Watson reminded his team to simply do what led the Lions to a District 1 championship this season.

“I think we were more efficient, and I think that’s been our mantra from the beginning of the season is just be more efficient than the other team,” said Watson. “We beat some – we schedule a lot of Suburban One 4A schools, and we had a lot of matches that went five sets that we won.”

Though the Panthers run is over for this season, Filer can’t wait to see what her team will be able to do next season.

“We’re not going away,” she said. “We will be back, and they just need to step away and take a deep breath. They’ll definitely be back. They’re all doing offseason so I’m looking forward to it. We’ll give them a couple weeks off, and then we’re starting offseason.

“They were a pleasure to coach, though. I’m sad to see the season end. I wanted it to go on forever, but unfortunately somebody has to lose, and today was not our day.”

STATS … Sarah Zabroski tallied 14 assists, nine service points and two kills for Panther Valley, while Christina Dacey and Olivia Dacey had eight digs apiece, and Sydney Clouser added six digs. Emilee Kwaak had four kills and two blocks.

AGAIN … New Hope-Solebury defeated the Panthers 25-21, 25-17, 21-25, 25-21 in last year’s subregional game, which was held at Panther Valley.

SWITCH … Thursday’s game was scheduled to take place at New Hope-Solebury. But the Lions’ smaller gymnasium necessitated a change of location, and the match was held at Council Rock South High School. Watson couldn’t have been happier with the environment. “I love the fact that they brought like 1,000 people here. I love that. I wish there were more people here. It’s awesome, and they (students) go back-and-forth like that, we just feed off that. I almost wanted to play down there because those fans are crazy. It’s awesome,” he said.