Panther Valley sweeps Jim Thorpe
Madison Heckman of Panther Valley sets the ball for Erika Dubosky, left. On the other side of the net are Jim Thorpe’s Olivia Wolfe (19) and Autumn Snyder. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Whether in sports or any other endeavor, the achievements won relishes the most are those they worked hardest to achieve.
Although Panther Valley defeated Jim Thorpe in three games on Thursday – 25-18, 25-23, 25-19 – both teams put forth solid efforts.
In the opening game, PV jumped ahead 14-4, but the Olympians showed resilience, fighting back and moving to within one point of their Schuylkill League opponent, 17-16.
The second game saw the score tied five times, including 22-22.
The score was tied four times in the final game, including at 18-18.
“We have a big target on our back,” said first-year PV coach Emilie Baker. Panther Valley (2-0, 1-0 league) is the defending District 11 champion.
The contest was a rematch of last season’s District 11 Class 2A championship that was won by PV.
Playing key roles in the Panther’s win were the Dubosky sisters – Jenna and Erika. Jenna, a senior, had 18 kills and 30 assists, while Erika has 13 aces and 13 kills.
Another returning veteran who made a big contribution to the victory was senior Olivia Dacey. She produced two aces, 11 kills and six digs.
PV got a fast start in the first game with a 14-4 lead thanks in part to the serving of Erika, who had five service points during the Panthers’ fast start, including three consecutive aces.
But it was her team’s defense that impressed Baker most. She said that coming in as a new head coach, her team “had some adjustments they’ve had to fight through. They’re doing a really nice job of playing all-out defense, making sure every ball gets touched,” Baker said.
Fifth-year Jim Thorpe coach Victoria Nichols lost several key players from last year’s team, but still has plenty of talent.
“I know that my girls have a really strong offense.” she said, “My front line has good communication with my setters.” She also praised her “really tall, front middle group.”
“I think my middles were strong tonight, making sure they were better hitters,” she said.
Both teams were strong in serving. In the first game, Panther Valley had no errors, while JT had just one.
The second game saw a seesaw contest with PV taking a three-point lead. Jim Thorpe then stormed back to build a 17-12 lead, before PV rallied to tie it 22-22. The Panthers then pulled it out thanks to attacks by Erica and Dacey, as well as a block up front by Natalie White.
While JT tied the third game four times, the Panthers never trailed and eventually closed out the sweep.
THORPE NUMBERS ... For Jim Thorpe, Brandy Montemuro had seven assists, Kristin Pompa had four kills, Abigail Mcginley had 15 digs, Andi Hoherchak had five kills, Katie DeMarco had eight digs and Grace Baldassano had seven assists.
LOOKING AHEAD ... The Olympians’ Nichols is optimistic that her team will win the rematch against PV on Oct. 1. “Our feeling after the match tonight is we are going to make sure that we have wins in the next couple of games, and when we face Panther Valley again, we’re going to make sure that we come back with more of a vengeance that we did tonight. The girls know exactly what plays to run and what spots are going to be open, and what girls they’re going to look out for.”
JV GAME ... Panther Valley won the JV match in two straight games.