Trojans return to state final
En route to its current unblemished record of 25-0, the Parkland girls’ volleyball team hasn’t been tested too often.
But the Lady Trojans knew a time would come when adversity would pop up, even just a little bit. Head Coach Mike Krause understood that the team’s trip to Arizona in early October, one in which Parkland faced some of the country’s top teams in the Nike Tournament of Champions, would play a key role in those gritty situations come postseason play.
A brief moment in Tuesday’s PIAA Class AAA semifinals proved that Parkland was prepared for some adversity.
After winning the first two sets with relative ease, Parkland faced deficits of 23-22 and 24-23 late in the third set. But when things weren’t going exactly the Trojans’ way, they found how to shake off Cumberland Valley’s rally. Sam Webber got the teams to within even at 24-24 and put the final stamp on the Parkland’s 3-0 (25-14, 25-16, 26-24) sweep over the Eagles at Garden Spot High School.
“Cumberland Valley was really getting into a rhythm,” Krause said. “Their hitters made adjustments on what we were taking away, and then they made their adjustments to what we were giving them and they were hitting it pretty good.”
Cumberland Valley trailed 14-11 in that third set, only to respond and lead 16-15 moments later. Their lead grew as much to 19-16 before the Trojans pulled to 19-19 on one of Sam Graver’s nine kills.
Neither team led by more than two points the rest of the way, and it was the Trojans’ experience that won in the end. Parkland advances to its second straight state title game with the win, facing District 3’s No. 1 seed Hempfield on Saturday in Johnstown in a rematch of last year’s championships that witnessed the Trojans capture gold.
“I knew we could get there if we stayed healthy,” Krause said. “The health was the biggest concern. I credit the younger kids because they had to fill in spots, and the seniors showed leadership and consistency.”
The first two sets were a different story than the third.
Parkland raced out to a quick 15-6 lead in the first set and was never contested down the stretch. The Trojans, after battling to an 8-8 game in the second set, went on a 10-3 spurt minutes later to gain full control.
The recipe across all three sets was the same—have setter Kristin Krause set up the talented hitters on the outside, in particular Siena Salvaggio, who finished with team-high 15 kills.
“We can always rely on her to put it exactly where she says she is going to put it,” said Salvaggio, who went over 1,000 career kills on Tuesday. “She is honestly the most reliable setter. I think the seniors did a great job tonight.”
“Siena was really on fire, and Kristin knew that,” Mike Krause said. “Siena was killing it and she drew all of the attention, and Kristin sensed that, so then she could activate the other hitters. She has such a good sense of the game and distributing the ball. When the girls had the opportunity, they came through.”
Spreading the ball out was key in the Trojans’ success, as Graver, Webber, Morgan Sherwin and Erica Foose all had pivotal stretches of dynamic spikes.
“They’re a great blocking team, so we focused on distributing the ball,” Salvaggio said. “Our serving was really great tonight. We kind of got them out of their groove, and we just focused on what we could do on our side of the net.”
The expectations were there at the beginning of the year. Many expected Parkland to make another deep run in the state tournament, if not all the way back to the championship match.
That all came to fruition on Tuesday evening nearly an hour-and-a-half away from home, but Parkland has taken a one-game-at-a-time approach all season. It has paid off thus far.
“I think we just took every game at a time,” Salvaggio said. “We focused on every opponent over the net. We kept working hard in the gym and were focused on our end goal.”
Parkland advanced to the PIAA semifinals with their 3-0 win over District 12’s Cardinal OHara (25-13, 25-8, 25-11) on Saturday. Salvaggio led the way with 13 kills, while Graver (9), Sherwin (6) and Webber (5) also played key roles at the net. Avery Perosa recorded 13 digs, and Krause tallied 28 assists and 10 digs in the quarterfinals win.