Panther Valley sweeps Thorpe
Panther Valley’s Jenna Dubosky (33) slams the ball past Jim Thorpe’s Kristin Pompa during Thursday District 11 Class 2A semifinal. For a video and photo gallery go to www.tnonline.com. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
Falling behind doesn’t seem to bother Panther Valley’s volleyball team.
In fact, it seems to motivate them.
The Panthers faced deficits in all three sets against Jim Thorpe in the semifinal round of the District 11 Class 2A playoffs on Thursday. But PV never got rattled when it trailed, and rallied all three times to produce a 25-19, 25-23, 25-17 sweep.
The victory allows the top-seeded Panthers to advance to Tuesday’s championship match, where they’ll face Notre Dame.
“We were down (multiple times), but we’re confident in ourselves,” said PV head coach Emilie Baker. “We just seem to have that confidence ... that we’re going to push back. Being able to dig out (of a hole) is one of the skills that we have.
“Jim Thorpe and Panther Valley are very close and it’s a rivalry. I told the girls Jim Thorpe is going to play its best game, and they did. They played very hard. They went after every ball. We came out kind of lackadaisical and kind of picked it up after that. I think in every set we kind of went on a downward slope, and then we’d pick it up and we’d be OK.”
The Olympians used a 5-0 run in the opening set, capped off by an Andi Hoherchak kill, to take a 7-5 lead. But the Panthers quickly tied the score and used their own 6-1 spurt to take control. Jenna Dubosky’s winner completed the run and her kill ended the first game.
Thorpe once again forged ahead in the second set, jumping out to a 10-5 advantage thanks to a couple kills from Kristin Pompa. On cue, the Panthers came back to take a 13-12 lead with Dubosky collecting four kills. The two teams battled back-and-forth the rest of the game until Dubosky again delivered the final point.
“Panther Valley is definitely a skilled team,” said Jim Thorpe mentor Victoria Nichols. “They have a lot of talented girls, especially their upperclassmen. But I definitely think that we are talented as well. We just made too many of our own errors tonight that could have been prevented, not reading the hitters and losing communication when we got down.
“But I’m still proud that we got the couple leads that we did get in the beginning of the first couple games.”
Nichols watched her team grab another lead in the third set as a pair of kills by Autumn Snyder allowed the fourth-seeded Olympians to gain a 9-6 edge.
The Panthers, who have plenty of postseason experience, were never phased and recorded nine of the next 10 points to go ahead 15-10. Thorpe was able to cut the margin to three, but couldn’t get any closer as PV pulled away and finished the match on Erika Dubosky’s powerful hit.
“They’ve had different experiences in playoffs and that does help,” said Baker. “People that don’t have that type of experience don’t understand what it’s like to be down and be able to come back and fight through it.”
Having the Dubosky sisters on the floor doesn’t hurt either when you’re trying to battle through tough times. Jenna finished with 16 kills and 17 assists, while Erika added 12 kills and three blocks.
“I’ve said all season long those two are very dependable kids,” said Baker. “Every time we’re in a rut, you can depend on them to get us out of it.”
The Panthers are hoping they don’t get into any ruts on Tuesday when they take on the third-seeded Crusaders, who swept Pine Grove, in the title match.
“It’ll be kind of nice to play a team we haven’t seen all season, someone new,” said Baker. “I think if we come out and we play our game and really put forth 100 percent effort, I think we can do it.”
MORE PV STATS ... Jenna Dubosky also had four aces to go along with her other stats. Olivia Dacey contributed eight kills and six digs, while Alexis Copper added 13 digs and a kill.
OLYMPIAN NUMBERS ... Brandy Montemuro had a solid match, finishing with eight kills and 15 digs. Abbey McGinley had 20 digs and Grace Baldassano chipped in with 11 assists. Snyder and Pompa each ended with five kills.
SAYING GOODBYE ... Jim Thorpe graduates three seniors from its squad — Mia Lowin, Baldassano and Katie DeMarco.