Unbeaten North Penn tops PV
Panther Valley’s Olivia Dacey (left) and Erika Dubosky both go down to dig the ball. For a photo gallery visit www.tnonline.com. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
SHAMOKIN – North Penn Liberty made history Saturday with its 25-20, 25-20, 25-20 win over Panther Valley in the PIAA Class 2A volleyball quarterfinals.
“This is the farthest that any team in our district has ever gotten,” said Mounties’ head coach Jennifer Nawri. “So we are thrilled. These girls are phenomenal.”
But the Panthers made them earn it.
Panther Valley, playing in the second round of the tournament for the second year in a row, showed the heart and hustle that has helped the program capture four straight District 11 championships.
“My girls worked very hard,” said first-year Panther Valley head coach Emilie Baker. “It was a big adjustment for them having new coaches this year, and they worked so hard for me. And they deserve to be where they are.
“I really wish that we did advance, and I know that they do as well … but being one of eight in AA that is still playing, that’s an accomplishment in itself.”
The Panthers’ led 10-6 in the opening game, but the District 4 champion Mounties slowly chipped away at the advantage, and used a 7-1 run to take a 13-11 lead at the midpoint.
A 4-1 run by the Panthers cut the deficit to 20-19 late in the set, but the Mounties responded with a surge to go up 1-0.
Panther Valley led early in the second set, with its final advantage coming at 6-5. North Penn surged ahead 20-14, but the Panthers cut it to 23-20 after big hits from Jenna Dubosky. But they wouldn’t get any closer.
It was much of the same in the third set when Panther Valley’s only advantage came at 4-3. But the Panthers, who trailed by as many as five, made it a one-point deficit at 20-19, before the Mounties finished off the set and completed the sweep.
“Panther Valley is a great team,” said Nawri, who is in her first year leading the program. “They have some really strong hitters. They had quite a few kills against us.
“I talked to my girls about learning from those, about adjusting their position on the court, and about getting our block going more to help us out with that.”
Panther Valley’s attack was relentless, but North Penn seemed to always have an answer.
Ali Koval had 28 digs for the Mounties, who had 76 as a team. Maddison Minyo added 14 digs and 12 kills,
“We tried to use the opportunities when those strong hitters were in the back row,” said Nawri. “We kind of tried to take advantage of that.”
Julia Nawri added 17 assists and nine digs, and Charisma Grega tallied 13 digs for North Penn. Grace Tice finished with 13 kills.
Jenna Dubosky had 11 kills, 15 assists and two aces for the Panthers. Erika Dubosky recorded 10 kills and 14 digs, while Olivia Dacey finished with nine kills and eight digs.
Despite seeing its season end in the second round of the state tournament for the second straight year, this is a group that has helped to create a culture of winning at Panther Valley, one that Baker believes will continue for years to come.
“That’s the great thing about coaching here; you always get kids that come in, and they know what the expectation of Panther Valley volleyball is,” she said. “And it’s a high expectation we have, and we will continue to have. “I think my upcoming seniors are going to do a really good job of taking those underclassmen under their wing, and really pushing to make it further next year. I lose four great seniors – they all started for me this year – one being a four-year starter, one being a three-year starter. They are a great group of girls … it’s going to be hard to replace them.”
One of the most accomplished players in program history, Jenna Dubosky, can’t wait to see what the Panthers do next.
“I left my mark at Panther Valley, and my sister (Erika) is an underclassman, so I hope she does the same thing,” said Jenna. “I hope that they keep playing their game, and they can get that fifth straight district title.
PANTHER FAMILY … More than just teammates, Dubosky’s bond with her fellow upperclassmen extends beyond the court. “I’m really good friends with them outside of volleyball. They mean the world to me and I love them so much. Together, we created a legacy here, and I’m glad to say that,” she said.
THE RECORDS … North Penn improves to 21-0 on the season, while Panther Valley ends with a 21-3 record.