D-11 AAA VOLLEYBALL: Emmaus eliminates Pottsville
Oct 27, 2012 (Menafn - Republican & Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --It's safe to say Pottsville hit the snooze button too many times for Saturday morning's District 11 Class AAA girls' volleyball quarterfinal against Emmaus.
By the time the Crimson Tide woke up, it was too late.
Emmaus used a dominating performance in the first two sets and its depth up front to eliminate Pottsville 25-11, 25-14, 20-25, 25-17 at the boys' gym.
The Lehigh Valley Conference runner-up Green Hornets (14-4) scored the first seven points of the 11 a.m. match, led 12-1 at one point, then did the same in the second set by building a quick 7-1 lead.
"We started out slow," Pottsville coach Lauren Shandor said. "Communication was our big issue.
"We decided to start communicating in that third set and started to look like ourselves again. Our passing started to connect and we started to play well. We looked like Pottsville again.
"We didn't have passing in the first two sets. We didn't have passes to run our offense. It was all (lack of) communication."
Pottsville's highlight came in the third set, when senior Sasha Thomas took over.
The 6-foot senior scored all five points in a 5-1 run early in the set that helped Pottsville (15-2) overcome an early 4-0 deficit, then had two kills in a 7-0 run that gave the Schuylkill League runner-up the lead for good.
Thomas finished with a match-high 17 kills and four blocks, most of which came in the final two sets.
"We weren't awake yet," Thomas said of the Tide's early struggles. "We thought they were better than us, but they weren't.
"We just needed to play our game. Instead of playing our game, we were playing their game. We just needed to slow things down.
"I help my team to get the momentum. When we bring it in, we play better. When we play together, we play to win."
One of Thomas' biggest kills actually came late in the second set, as she thundered the ball off the face of Emmaus senior setter Lisa Wallitsch.
Wallitsch, whose older sister plays at DeSales, had compiled 17 assists to that point. She left the match with concussion-like symptoms and didn't return.
Emmaus' depth compensated for the loss of its senior setter.
Not only are the Green Hornets deep up front with four hitters 5-foot-10 or taller, but freshman Rebecca Houghton came off the bench to replace Wallitsch and did a solid job running the Emmaus offense.
Houghton, the Hornets' JV setter who had played very little varsity until Saturday, collected 21 assists and an ace over the final two-plus sets.
"She set for JV all year long, she did a fantastic job," Emmaus coach Gwen Millets said of Houghton. "We brought her up to practice, and for the most part she just practiced with us.
"We like to have as many girls as all-around players as possible, because you never know when something like (Wallitsch's injury) is going to happen. It did today.
"She came off the bench and had to play, and she did a heck of a job out there. I can't ask for any more from her."
Emmaus finished with 49 kills and seven blocks. Mackenzie O'Brien, a 5-11 sophomore, had 16 kills, while 5-10 senior Corinne Justus had 13 kills and four blocks, 5-10 junior Alexandra Traynor had 10 kills and five aces, and 6-foot sophomore Erin Stanton tallied six kills and two blocks.
The Hornets' aggressive attack not only dominated the first two sets, but it wore down the Crimson Tide in the fourth set to wrap up the match and book a semifinal date Tuesday with top-seeded and undefeated Parkland.
"We've struggled with our blocking," Shandor said. "If we can't block, our defense takes all the hits, and they get tired.
"If we can't help out our defense in the back row with our blocking, they're going to get tired, and come Set 3, Set 4, they're going to need some help."
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