Volleyball reaches semi
The Parkland girls volleyball team hasn’t just been a frequent visitor to the state playoffs. It has been a postseason stalwart that’s put together lengthy postseason runs, including PIAA titles in 2014 and 2015.
This season’s team played its way into the state semifinals and there was a feeling of accomplishment for the Lady Tigers with only two returning starters.
Parkland defeated District 3’s Exeter Township in five sets (23-25, 25-15, 17-25, 25-15, 15-10) on Saturday in the state quarterfinals to keep its season alive. Unfortunately for the Trojans, the run came to an end in the semifinals against District 1’s Bishop Shanahan on Tuesday (22-25, 25-20, 20-25, 25-15, 11-15).
“I think that it means a little more this year because we were expected to do well with so many new people,” said senior Mia Jago, who saw significant time last season. “It feels amazing. We’re so excited and it is really good.”
Adriana Goetz-Morales, a junior who played a key role in Parkland’s quarterfinal win over Exeter at the net, played mostly JV in 2016. But she immediately made a huge impact for the Trojans this fall.
“This year it was really a big step for us because not a lot of people believed we could do it,” Goetz-Morales said. “We have worked so hard every day in practice to get this far.”
And Parkland continued to prove all season long it would not fold over when tested with adversity. The Trojans faced deficits of both 1-0 and 2-1 against Exeter, yet found a way to pull out the win when needed.
Jago, who scored two quick points in the decisive fifth set against Exeter, punched home the game-winning kill. Brooke Kratzer set up Jago, who capitalized on her 11th and final kill of the afternoon to send the Trojans one win within another title game appearance.
“It feels so good to be able to help my team out in that way,” Jago said. “I’m so proud of everyone and it all sort of comes out in that last moment.”
Parkland found itself in the early hole in large part to its own mistakes on the court. But Exeter capitalized, turning a 19-14 deficit into a two-point victory in the first set.
The Trojans led 10-4 in the second set, and then were able to pull away behind the blocking of Adriana-Morales (8 blocks, 10 kills). Back-to-back blocks from the Trojan junior pushed Parkland’s lead to 14-5, and another one shortly later made it a 17-8 advantage to tie the game at 1-1.
“Each game I try to focus on one thing I can do to help the team depending on who we are playing against,” Goetz-Morales said. “They had a pretty strong offense, so I thought blocking was going to be a pretty big part.”
“I think that a lot in the first and third set were our mistakes,” Jago said. “So we just had to focus a lot more on the little things and get it back. We had to focus on having some fire throughout all the points.”
Exeter’s Abby Campbell recorded back-to-back kills early in the third set to take an 8-4 lead, and the Eagles would jump out to a seven-point cushion en route to a third set victory.
The play of Gonzalez-Morales and Grace Steurer (team-high 13 kills) helped Parkland take control in the fourth set. Two Gonzalez-Morales points put the Trojans in front 7-4 early. Then, two kills from Streuer in a matter of three points sealed the deal for the Trojans.
After scoring nine of the final 13 points in the fourth set, that momentum for the Trojans carried into the fifth and final set.
“We work on this stuff in practice,” Goetz-Morales said. “So it’s the same thing, but just against another team.”
Seniors Maddy Beaver (9 kills) and Kirah Dreisbach (6 kills, 10 digs) also provided key spurts of offense for Parkland. Kratzer finished with 40 assists against Exeter.