By the middle of the Elizabethtown Area High School boys volleyball team’s final regular season game at Garden Spot on Wednesday, May 9, it became clear that both squads were fighting for their seasons. Whoever won would essentially clinch a spot in the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs.
It took five games and a few extra sets, but Garden Spot eventually came out on top, winning 3-2 in an alltime classic. The two teams finished tied for the last two spots in the L-L League postseason with Cocalico at 6-6 in Section Two. It came down to the final tiebreaker, each team’s district power rating, which pushed Elizabethtown out and ended their season.
“I thought that we did pretty darn well in comparison to where we were at earlier in the season and where we would’ve been at the past couple of years,” head coach Bryan Buckius said. “They might’ve gotten to us a bit in the first game, but once we hit our rhythm, we were doing absolutely awesome. They’re a good team, and we knew that coming into it. It was their Senior Night and their final home game. Might’ve been a different story if it was in E-Town, but either way, everybody gave 100 percent, and that’s all I can ask for.”
Elizabethtown largely controlled the pace in the first game, taking a 24-21 lead into a game point late. Garden Spot put on a frenzied comeback, however, and won 26-24 to steal a victory. Things were similar in the second game, but this time the Bears didn’t falter, winning 25-21 to tie it at 1-1 all.
The Spartans took over in the third game, going on multiple scoring runs. Elizabethtown made things close late but couldn’t overcome the deficit, losing 25-23. The Bears then dominated in the fourth game, winning 25-14 to send it to a winner-take-all showdown to 15.
It went back and forth in the fifth game, eventually settling on a 13-13 tie late. Elizabethtown had a game point at 14-13, but Garden Spot survived, scoring twice to take a 15-14 lead. The two teams traded points until the Spartans finally scored two in a row to win 19-17.
“We just made like two or three little mistakes,” Buckius said. “They did too, but theirs were at the beginning of the game and ours were at the end. Our passing was off by a little bit. We had an error from the setter which usually never happens. He had 50 some assists tonight. It just comes down to how many points were played.”
Said setter was senior Narvin Chhay, who put up a career high 56 assists. Fellow seniors Austin Kreiser and Brice Reiman both had 21 kills to lead the team. Senior Spencer Roth led all players with 7 blocks as well.
Carter Eby had a gamehigh 24 kills for Garden Spot. Devon Martin had 44 assists, while Aaron Lapp notched 14 digs.
The Bears season ends with a record of 7-8, up from 6-9 last year. It’s also their best record since 2011, where they were 7-7. The team has come a long way from just a few years ago, where it was a struggle just to win a game. But now, change is coming.
Buckius will be exiting his position as head coach after four seasons to join the coaching staffs at Elizabethtown College. Seven seniors will graduate as well, five of whom (Chhay, Kreiser, Reiman, Roth and Nicholas Dobslaw) were regular rotation players on the team.
On the plus side, six of the underclassmen (junior NicholasChapman and sophomores Jacques Mortha, Jake Sevcik, Casey Lyons, Nate Seeger and Thomas Arendt) saw varsity time in 2017, which gives Elizabethtown a nice foundation for the future. The new head coach will have their work cut out for them, whoever that may be, but Buckius and the exiting seniors leave behind an impressive resume to aspire to.
“It’s definitely been awesome,” Buckius said. “Watching the season come to an end over the past couple of weeks has been really sad, and it’s not just been for me. Seeing the evolution of the seniors growing up and the evolution of the program, I think that I did the best that I could to keep it moving in the right direction, but without them, we couldn’t do that. I’ve spent thousands of hours with them over the past couple of years between open gyms and games. It’s a little bittersweet, but it’s awesome to see them move on with their lives into bigger and better things outside of high school.”