Girls volleyball falls in league championship
Parkland did a solid job in the fourth set of Saturday’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championships, limiting Nazareth hitter Maria Harding and tying the match at 2-2. It suddenly seemed as if all of the momentum swung to the Trojans’ bench.
And it had, until Harding and the Blue Eagles stepped on the court in the match-deciding fifth set.
Harding had a number of her team-high 21 kills in that fifth set to lift No. 4 seed Nazareth over No. 2 Parkland (22-25, 25-21, 25-22, 14-25, 15-8) on Saturday at Northampton High School. It was Nazareth’s first EPC title in program history.
“We got a couple of plays where on the serve receive there was a little bit of indecision,” head coach Mike Krause said. “Their serves were moving pretty good, and we didn’t get a solid swing at them.
“They transitioned and fed the ball to Maria Harding [in that fifth set]. And Maria Harding has a really good arm.”
After Parkland all but dominated the fourth set, due in large part to a strong effort from Adriana Goetz-Morales (23 kills) at the net, Nazareth didn’t show any affects of a hangover.
The Blue Eagles raced out to a quick 6-2 lead in that set after one of Harding’s kills, and Nazareth never looked back. The Blue Eagles kept their distance at 8-5 after a Megan Holland block at the net, and then another one moments later for a 12-7 advantage. Maddie Orth (10 kills) ended it with a kill.
“Maria hit the ball really well,” Krause said. “She hit cross court and down the line. She hit the ball in the right spot, and she hit it hard. That really gave them the momentum. Even if we got a pick on it, we didn’t get a decent swing back.”
Parkland actually jumped in front after taking the first set, 25-22. Trailing 19-16 late in the set, a kill from Grace Steurer (13 kills, 7 digs) got the comeback started and catapulted the Trojans into a 9-3 spurt to end the game. Goetz-Morales’ kill late made it a 24-22 lead, and Brooke Krotzer set up Amber Resendez for the game-winning kill.
Nazareth responded with two close wins in the second and third sets to regain momentum. An 11-9 Parkland lead turned into a four-point advantage for Nazareth moments later. The Trojans regained the lead at 20-19, but the Blue Eagles scored six of the final seven points to secure the victory.
The Trojans got off to a fast start once again in the third set and could not hold on. Parkland jumped in front 5-1 and led 8-5 before Nazareth tied the game moments later at 10-10 and never looked back.
“We were starting to click with our offense [in the fourth set],” Krause said. “We were able to get some time with Adriana. No one is going to stop Adriana.”
The Trojans went on a 10-3 run late in that fourth set in the most convincing set victory of the afternoon. A kill from Steuer got the run started at 13-10, and Goetz-Morales’s spike gave the Trojans a 22-13 advantage.
“These kids have a lot of heart,” Krause said. “They know it takes five, and you have to win three. Every game is a new opportunity, so they will work hard and see what’s going on. We had a couple of serve miscues that gave them a little confidence, and they took advantage of that.”
The Trojans got to the final with a five-set win over Central Catholic last Thursday, 25-17, 24-26, 18-25, 25-15, 15-8. Goetz-Morales had a team-high 22 kills in that match, while Steurer added 13 kills and 23 digs. Resendez contributed 13 kills, while setter Brooke Kratzer recorded 47 assists along with five aces and Jenny Clifton posted 21 digs in the win.
Parkland will be the No. 2 seed in the PIAA District 11 Class 4A tournament that begins on Thursday. The Trojans will play the winner of No. 7 Freedom vs. No. 10 Easton on Thursday at home at 6:45 p.m.