It’s due or die for the Elizabethtown Area High School boys volleyball team. The Bears needed to win their final three games to make their way into the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs. They were able to win the first two in down-to-the-wire matchups.
The team first upset Cocalico 3-2 on Thursday, May 3, in their last home game of the year at Daubert Gym. Like the previous matchup against the Falcons on Tuesday, April 10, Elizabethtown came out hot and took the first set 25-23.
Unlike the first game, however, the Bears never lost their stride. The two teams traded the next three sets, with Cocalico winning the second 25-22 and the fourth 26-24 and Elizabethtown winning the third 25-20. It came down to one last set, where the Bears emerged with a 1511 victory.
“We had the tournament on Saturday (April 28) and we built some momentum off of that,” head coach Bryan Buckius said. “We did not play well at all against Mennonite on Tuesday (May 1). I kind of just put it to them like ‘We can play for another six days or we can play for however many days after that that you want to.’ This wasn’t our true Senior Night, but this is my last game coaching in this gym and this is the seniors’ last night playing in this gym. Why would you want to go out and have something to remember it by? And I think having that little pep talk with them pushed us through.”
The stats for Elizabethtown were certainly eye-popping. Senior Austin Kreiser led all players in kills with 19, though senior Brice Reiman and sophomore Jacques Mortha also hit double-digit kills with 13 and 10, respectively. The latter two also tied for the game-high in blocks with 8.
Elsewhere, senior Spencer Roth chipped in with 8 kills and 4 blocks, while junior Nicholas Chapman had 6 kills and 5 service aces. Sophomore Jake Sevcik notched 14 digs. Senior Narvin Chhay had a season-high in assists with 47.
“Honestly, I thought we played a heck of a game the entire time,” Buckius said. “I thought Cocalico played a heck of a game. You can tell by the scores. Narvin had 47 assists, their setter had 46. That’s unheard of. They were playing good defense and we picked our defense up. In the fifth game, we just had a run of two or three points in a row, and we just took it. Credit to them though because they’re an awesome team.”
Junior Avery Stark led Cocalico with 15 kills, while senior Caleb Horning had 11 digs. Senior Tommy Denlinger wasn’t far behind Chhay in assists with 46. Both fan sections were passionate throughout the night, culminating in the final set where Elizabethtown came out on top.
“For the first time since I’ve been here, I definitely feel like I have finally have them on board with what’s going on, especially after talking to the parents,” Buckius said. “It’s nice because once you have that support, it pumps the guys up. You have the Cocalico fans screaming for their guys, and then the two (fan sections) start going back and forth with a cheering battle. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard the ‘Let’s Go Bears’ chant in the gym. It makes me and the guys happy that we have that backing, and that’s the goal. Win or lose that game, I would’ve been extremely proud just becauseeveryone’s here for a common goal. That unity and cohesion is awesome.”
The Bears won another tight game on Monday, May 7, at Ephrata 3-2 in a come-frombehind win. Elizabethtown won the first set 25-20 before the Mounts took the next two 28-26 and 26-24. However, the Bears won the fourth set 2522 to force a fifth, which they won 15-11.
Kreiser once again led the team in kills with 15. Chhay had a game-high 42 assists, while Roth contributed 6 blocks. Trey Farlow played extremely well for Ephrata, leading all players with 18 kills and 29 digs. Connor Komancheck had 38 assists.
Currently third in Section Two of the L-L League with a section record of 6-5 as of Tuesday, May 8, Elizabethtown had a chance to clinch a league playoff spot at Garden Spot on Wednesday, May 9.
“I’m extremely proud,” Buckius said. “We haven’t made the playoffs since I’ve been here and this is my last season, so I’m really excited to play at least more than May 9th.”