Fighting Irish holds off LCS for District title

By on November 10, 2015

 Lady Eagles take runner-up honors for second straight year

Jill Albers, who led the Lady Eagles with 15 assists in the District finals against York Catholic, passes the ball to a teammate. (Photo by Dick Wanner)

Jill Albers, who led the Lady Eagles with 15 assists in the District finals against York Catholic, passes the ball to a teammate. (Photo by Dick Wanner)

Even when they were down 2-0 in games last Saturday, there was no panic from the Lititz Christian girls volleyball team.

The Lady Eagles had rallied from that deficit before &tstr; like when they beat High Point Baptist 3-2 in a CCAC match in early October.

This time, the stakes were higher.

The District Three Single-A crown was on the line against York Catholic.

It marked the second straight year that the Lititz Christian girls found themselves playing for all the District marbles, having dropped a 3-1 loss to Mount Calvary in the title match in 2014.

“We sat in the huddle,” coach Denise Kennedy recalled, “and I said to them, ‘We just need to play more games than what we thought we were going to play. Instead of winning in three, we’re going to have to go to five. Are you up for it?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah.’ (I said), ‘You decide. Do you want the season to be over now or do you want to continue playing?’ Obviously, they didn’t want the season to end.”

That was clear by the fact that Lititz darted to a 19-10 at one point in game three.

Unfortunately for the Lady Eagles, though, they couldn’t hold it, as York Catholic rallied and completed the 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-16, 26-24) in the District finals at Dallastown High School.

“They were sad, they were devastated,” Kennedy said. “They’re a really close-knit team, and aside from the fact that they lost, the thing that hurt them even more was they’re not going to be coming to volleyball anymore after school.”

In game one, Lititz Christian pulled even, 22-all, on a tip by Marissa Martin, but the Fighting Irish (10-9) eventually pulled out a 25-23 decision.

“She literally tipped every single time and we knew that,” Kennedy said. “We prepared for it and yet we still acted surprised every time she tipped.”

Still, Kennedy saw enough positive signs to be encouraged going forward in the match.

“It was not a game where I felt like we were blown away, so when we lost the first game, I thought, ‘This isn’t a big issue,’” she said. “We played them tough and we had some service errors that we should not have had and take away those service errors &tstr; we’re usually a better serving team &tstr; and the game would have been ours.”

Unfortunately for the Lady Eagles, however, the second game got away from them, and following their 25-16 loss, they were facing a 2-0 deficit.

That, of course, set the stage for game number three. Erika Echternach and Katherine Parker, who earlier in the day competed at the PIAA Cross Country Championships, finished with 17 digs and six kills, respectively, to help lead the way.

Jill Albers handed out a team-high 15 assists and chipped in with three aces, while Jen Coomer added one block, as the Lady Eagles seemed poised to extend the match after going up 19-10.

But York Catholic, who was led by Eliza Johnson’s match-high nine kills, had other ideas.

Thanks to a run in which the Fighting Irish scored 13 of the next 16 points, they pulled in front 23-22.

Following a timeout, Lititz appeared to right the ship and regained a 24-23 lead on Parker’s kill.

Emily Hoffman got the equalizer for York Catholic and then back-to-back Lady Eagle errors enabled the Fighting Irish to clinch the match.

“I don’t know if we just panicked trying to hold the lead, I’m not sure,” Kennedy said. “I’m still processing that … I have two seniors on the team and the rest are underclassmen, so I want to figure this out because we can learn from this mistake and learn, ‘Do we need more mental toughness? Is there something that we need to work on as coaches for the future with these girls so that they can get a lead and sustain a lead and not lose it?’ I don’t know. Like I said, I’m still processing it.”

With District Three Single-A getting just one State bid, the Lady Eagles closed out their tremendous season with a 20-2 record, including a perfect 10-0 mark in CCAC play.

“They’re defined by so much more than this loss,” Kennedy remarked. “(I told the team), ‘It doesn’t define you and it doesn’t define your season because you’ve done so many wonderful things.’ If someone had told us the first week of pre-season, ‘Hey, this team who lost an All-State representative and your starting setter, is going to go undefeated in the CCAC, win the CCAC, and be in the District final again,’ we’d be like, ‘Really? OK.’ Not that many CCAC teams can say they were in back-to-back District finals. So we have no reason to hang our heads.”

Lititz Christian advanced to the finals by outlasting CCAC rival Conestoga Christian 3-2 (25-27, 25-22, 25-15, 18-25, 15-7) in the District semi-finals last Thursday night.

Coomer had 12 kills and three blocks, while Bert led a strong defensive effort with 16 digs. Albers finished with 32 assists and Martin had a big game from the service line with nine aces.

Last Tuesday, Nov. 3, Bert had nine kills and Martin stepped up with five aces, leading the Lady Eagles in a 3-0 shutout (25-14, 25-14, 25-20) of Covenant Christian in their District opener.

Albers chipped in with 20 assists and Shiori Sakakivara added 12 digs.

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