Bethlehem Press

Friday, January 24, 2020

Pates advance in EPC tourney

Thursday, May 16, 2019 by Peter Car in Sports

Last Friday’s rivalry showdown between Freedom and Liberty on the volleyball court had a lot riding on the line outside of bragging rights. A spot in Monday’s East Penn Conference volleyball semifinals was on the line and the Patriots made sure they were the ones making the four-team tourney, as they knocked off the Hurricanes in four games.

That contest also had a direct result to them scoring an upset win over Parkland in the conference semifinals, sweeping the Trojans 25-19, 25-21, 27-25 to advance to Wednesday’s conference title matchup with an undefeated Whitehall (19-0) squad.

Monday’s win over Parkland was huge for Freedom (18-3), especially after losing to the Trojans twice this season. Last week’s win over Liberty certainly played a part in that as well.

“That was huge win for us and the Liberty match helped,” said head coach John Yanek. “It also helped us because Parkland runs a similar offense. It gave us a good look at what adjustments we have to make. The win also helped avoid Whitehall, not that Parkland is less, but we feel we could compete with Parkland better.”

The loss by Liberty (14-4) was bittersweet since it kept them out of the EPC tourney. Emmaus (12-4) edged them out in the race for the fourth spot, but there is still a silver lining to last week’s defeat.

“Despite having a better overall record and beating them in the criteria typically used to settle head-to-head ties in volleyball, Emmaus was awarded the fourth spot in the EPC playoffs based on an algorithm that hasn’t been made public,” said head coach Neiad Ammary. “The league only recognizes head-to-head match records, not head-to-head set records, unfortunately. On Saturday, the EPC coaches voted to amend the bylaws for the future.

“Regardless, we didn’t accomplish our goal of beating Freedom Friday night, so there’s no one to blame but ourselves. Freedom served well and controlled the ball better than we did. We missed too many serves and failed to terminate enough rallies at the net. On the positive side, our kids fought back after being down two sets and 20-24 in the third set to win 28-26 and force a fourth set. We were up 22-20 in the fourth but couldn’t put it away. Another real positive takeaway from that loss is that we have a favorable bracket for Districts. We have a quarterfinal matchup with Parkland on Thursday night. If we can get past them, we feel good about our chances of making it to the finals. Whitehall, Freedom, and Emmaus are all in the opposite side of the bracket. We lost to Parkland 17-15 in the fifth set a few weeks ago in a great match that we feel like we squandered. So, this gives us a chance at redemption. Our dreams of making it to the district championship and states are still very much alive.”

Freedom and Whitehall will square off at 6 p.m. Wednesday night at Allen High School.

Whitehall swept Freedom earlier this season. The District 11 tournament gets going for both teams on Thursday night with seeds yet to be determined.