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Patriots aiming for EPC bid

Thursday, May 10, 2018 by Peter Car in Sports

Qualifying for the East Penn Conference volleyball tournament would be icing on the cake for the Pates season, but it might be too early to know if John Yanek and his crew will be getting an invite.

As the Pates swept Pocono Mountain East on Monday, they still weren’t sure if they would grab the fourth and final spot for next week’s tourney.

With Emmaus (15-0), Whitehall (14-2) and Parkland (11-4) seemingly as locks for the tourney, that leaves the final spot up for grabs between the Pates (13-5), Nazareth (12-5) Northampton (10-6) and Liberty (9-7).

Nazareth may have been in the drivers seat coming into the week since they own a tiebreaker over the Pates in a head-to-head scenario, but a loss to Northampton tonight, coupled with a Freedom win over Liberty, should be enough to push the Pates into their first conference tournament since 2009.

That would be an ecstatic achievement for Yanek and the program.

“Considering I didn’t really think the EPC playoffs would be realistic for us coming into the season,” Yanek said. “It would be a great accomplishment for these guys, even though they really have their eyes set on making waves at districts.”

A berth in next week’s EPC format would nearly guarantee the Pates or whoever, the fourth-seed, granting them an opening round date with top-seeded Emmaus.

Still, the ability to play in a playoff setting before districts would come with open arms.

“I think it really starts with being able to beat Liberty in our season finale [tonight],” said Yanek. “That’s always a tough match and will almost be like a playoff game. These are the type of matches we want to be in heading down the stretch.”

Liberty has clinched a district berth as they close out the week with Northampton and Freedom with an outside chance at jumping over everyone and grabbing the EPC’s fourth spot.

Regardless, wins will help their District 11 3A power rating and most teams want to avoid a path with Emmaus until the very end.

Bethlehem Catholic (6-8) have qualified for the District 11 2A tournament, but have struggled as of late.

The Hawks have lost six of their last eight, including two straight to Parkland and Allen.

With matchups with Dieruff and Easton this week, Becahi hopes to get back on track before getting into playoff action.