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Hawks eye wins over top teams

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 by Peter Car pcar@tnonline.com in Sports

Bethlehem Catholic’s volleyball team is showing they can compete with the best in the East Penn Conference. Now they have to go out and actually beat the top teams.

The Hawks are off to a 3-2 start with both of their losses coming to undefeated Parkland (5-0) and Whitehall (4-0) teams in five games.

In both of those of matches, the Hawks were able to sneak out wins in the first game before ultimately losing in five, but the signs of being great are there for Jeff Koch’s group.

“We are happy with the start that we are having this season thus far,” Koch said. “Our record is 3-2, but we believe that we could be sitting at 5-0 as our two losses have come in pretty tight 5th sets to two of the top teams in the league.

“From those defeats we learned a lot. The defeats have helped to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each rotation on the court from serving, to serve receive, to offense and defense.”

With Pocono Mountain East (0-5) and Northampton (4-2) on the agenda this week, it’ll be an opportunity for the Hawks to gain some momentum heading into matchups with Freedom (4-1) and Emmaus (5-0) next week.

“For us to knock off the top teams of the league we have to become more consistent in all areas of the game,” Koch said. “That may seem pretty general to say but we have seen us compete with the best now and those top teams are more consistent when it counts the most and throughout each set. With us getting healthier now, and with the development of our younger core on the court, we hope to have a real strong rest of the season.”

Freedom has had a strong start to the year, posting wins over Northampton, Allen, Southern Lehigh and Quakertown, but were swept by Emmaus 17-25, 22-25, 16-25 in an early season matchup.

Head coach John Yanek is happy with the start and is hoping that it can continue with matches against Pocono Mountain West and Tunkhannock this week before battling Parkland on Thursday.

“We were looking at 3-2 as our earlier prediction for the start, so being 4-1 is great,” said Yanek. “Northampton was a bit of an upset for us, since they have several seniors. We lost our opposite hitter, Zach Shay, to a season-ending injury, so we are trying to fill his spot.

“Parkland will be the test as to whether we can hang with or beat the big teams. After that match we will then see how much we need to improve and what we need to improve on.”

Liberty (2-4) has opened the season with a tough schedule, falling to Whitehall, Emmaus, Pennsbury and Northampton in their four defeats.

With Allen and Nazareth on deck this week, the Hurricanes need some wins to get back into contention of the district race.