Delone sweeps PV in states
Panthers’ best season ends in quarters
SHILLINGTON — The best season in Panther Valley girls’ volleyball history ended with Saturday’s 25-11, 25-23, 25-17 loss to Delone Catholic in the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals at the Governor Mifflin Intermediate School, but the memories are sure to last a long time.
“They fought through everything. They really didn’t give up. They enjoyed playing. Practices were fun. They practiced hard, but it was fun being with them,” Panther Valley head coach Nancy Filer said.
Despite Saturday’s sweep, the Panthers (22-2) left a strong impression with Delone Catholic head coach Jason Leppo, whose team will face Holy Redeemer in Tuesday’s semifinals after the Royals defeated New Hope-Solebury 25-18, 23-25, 25-22, 25-12, on Saturday at Quakertown.
“Panther Valley made a ton of plays defensively. They really don’t quit on many balls. They scrap a lot of things out. There were a couple of times I thought the ball was going to be down and suddenly someone’s flying around, throwing an arm up,” he said. “That’s what you expect from a team of their caliber and the season they had. They had a heck of a season.”
But Saturday belonged to the District 3 champion Squirettes (23-3) from McSherrystown in Adams County. Junior right side hitter Maddie Clabaugh, a lefthander, led the way with 12 kills and four digs. Junior outside hitter Brooke Lawyer added seven kills and senior middle hitter Emily Miller had six.
“I needed a block in the front (to counter Delone’s hitters) and she (sophomore Natalie White) came through with some hits, too,” Filer said after White responded with three kills. “You’re only
so deep in a school my size. I did try a couple of people, but it wasn’t our day.”
Delone took advantage of its service in the opening game. Senior Hannah Wells served 10 straight points, including four aces, as the Squirettes pulled away from a 6-5 lead to a 16-5 bulge en route to the dominating firstset victory.
Delone then scored the first two points of the second set, but Panther Valley responded behind Jenna Dubosky. The junior served three aces among five straight points, turning a 3-2 deficit into a 7-3 lead.
“That was one of the things coming in that we said,” Leppo said. “We want to make sure we’re not trying to be too perfect when she’s serving because it’s such a great serve that we wanted to just get the ball up and not give up any easy points. We gave up easy points there and let them get out to a lead.”
Delone answered to create a tense second set. The teams tied five times, the last at 22. The Squirettes took the lead on a kill by Clabaugh and set up set point when Dubosky and setter Sarah Zabroski collided while attempting to set, causing a double-tap violation. The Panthers’ Rachelle Filer scored one of her three kills in the match to pull her team within 24-23, but another double-tap call on the next point gave Delone the win.
“I thought we were able to find ourselves and settle in just in the nick of time, because if it gets to 1-1 and they steal that second game, you’re looking at an entirely different match, a lot of pressure on us. It allows them to be more loose,” Leppo said.
Panther Valley built another 7-3 lead in the third set, thanks to a pair of kills by Erika Dubosky in a four-point service run by Rachelle Filer. Erika Dubosky added three more kills during the set to finish with 10 kills and five digs.
Again, Delone had an answer.
Miller scored three kills in succession during a service run by Abby Smith that tied the set 7-7. The teams tied twice more before Delone senior setter Molly Raville served an ace to give the Squirettes an 11-10 lead. Raville served two more points, including a kill by Wells, to put the Squirettes ahead to stay. Panther Valley never trailed by more than four points and trailed 19-17 when Clabaugh’s kill gave Delone the serve.
Leppo inserted junior Deanna Klunk in Raville’s place to serve and Delone scored four straight points, including two kills by Clabaugh, to close out the match. Klunk served Delone’s ninth ace of the match to end Panther Valley’s season, which featured both a Schuykill League championship and the third straight District 11 Class AA championship.
Three Panther seniors played their final match. Zabroski had 10 assists, while Emilee Kwaak had three digs and served two points. Rachelle Filer served four points.
Among the underclassmen, Jenna Dubosky had eight kills, 15 assists, three aces and three digs for the Panthers. Junior Olivia Dacey added six kills and seven digs.
“There are amazing girls coming back,” Nancy Filer said of the Panthers. “The nucleus is there.”
Those returning players will be armed with the goal of improving upon the best season in school history.
“Very proud of them,” Nancy Filer said of her team. “This was a hard lesson today, a life lesson that, no matter how hard you work, sometimes it just doesn’t work out for you. It is what it is.”