Log In

Reset Password

PV tops Blue Mountain in volleyball

ORWIGSBURG – It looked like a snap-crackle-pop victory for Panther Valley.

The Panthers had won the first two games of their Schuylkill League volleyball match against Division I power Blue Mountain on Thursday.

But suddenly the host Eagles flexed their muscles and came soaring back to force a deciding fifth game.

At that point, a young Panthers squad could have easily folded the tent and packed it in.

Instead, this band of youngsters stood tall, stiff and determined. The end result was a thriilling 25-19, 26-24, 22-25, 17-25, 15-8 victory for the Panthers.

“My kids are young and are learning as we go,” said Panther Valley coach Emilie Baker after watching her team escaped a potential hornets’ nest with an impressive victory. “They showed a lot of heart tonight.

“In that fifth game, they played so determined. They were going to find a way to win.”

After playing two outstanding games to start the match, the Panthers watched Blue Mountain battle back to tie the score at 2-2

But that’s where the Eagles’ rally ended.

Behind the splendid play of Riley McArdle, Maddison Maynard, Chloe Diekman, Sadie Trubilla and Abbey Vermillion, this upstart group shrugged off Blue Mountain’s potential comeback and found a way to win.

“We’re playing with confidence,” Baker said. “We’re talking on the court, picking each up, and making plays. Tonight, when Blue Mountain made its run, we found the heart and confidence to turn things around.”

Before the Panthers had eventually nailed down the victory, however, Blue Mountain mounted a charge around the excellent play of Connie Orsulak, Lisa Coolbaugh, Rose Gergely and Morgan Biege.

Trailing 21-18 in game three and on the verge of being swept, the Eagles rallied for the victory as Biege recorded two late aces to key the rally.

The Eagles followed that up with an impressive game four victory.

But the Panthers bounced right back in the in the deciding game, jumping out to a 6-1 lead.

Blue Mountain closed the gap 8-6, before a pair of Panther sophomores - the 5-8 Maynard and the 5-4 McArdle - came to the rescue with some fantastic play, which pushed their team to the brink of victory.

“Maynard and McArdle showed up really big for us late in that fifth game,” Baker said.

The Eagles tried slowing the rally with a timeout, but a Diekman kill and a Hanna Kane service ace eventually closed it out.

“Tonight was a great experience for our young team,” Baker said. “They found out how to work through adversity and find a way to win by playing together and staying confident.”

Blue Mountain coach Gregg Gergely was impressed with the Panthers.

“They are a good team and are well coached,” Gergely said. “They were more aggressive than us, especially in the first two games. We battled back, but give Panther Valley credit. They stepped up in the fifth game.”

BY THE NUMBERS … McArdle was all over the court, finishing with 11 kills and 11 digs. Maynard (six kills, six blocks); Vermilion (13 kills, two blocks); Diekman (23 digs) and Trubilla (23 assists and 10 digs) all had strong matches. For Blue Mountain, Beige had 13 kills, and seven aces; Gergely had 18 kills; and Orsulak dished out 36 assists.

WHERE IT STANDS … With this crossover win, PV goes to 5-1 in Division II play, while Eagles fall to 3-2 in Division 1. Panther Valley holds a one-game lead over Pine Grove (4-2) in the division.

BIG WEEK COMING … The Panthers host D-I leader and unbeaten Pottsville on Monday and travel to D-I second place Jim Thorpe on Tuesday.

SWEEP … PV recorded a 2-0 win in the junior varsity contest.