It was a whirlwind stretch of games for the Elizabethtown Area High School girls volleyball team. Over the course of four days, the Lady Bears played for a chance at the section title, finished up the regular season and competed in the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs. Unfortunately, they came away with three losses.
The team hosted Garden Spot on Wednesday, Oct. 17, hoping to force a tiebreaker game for the Section Two championship. The first set was tightly contested, but the Spartans gradually pulled away, leading 15-10 at the midway point and eventually holding off the Lady Bears to win 25-20.
The second set began similarily; the two teams were tied at 12-12 halfway through. However, Garden Spot would go on an 8-1 run and ultimately prevailed 25-19. The Spartans opened the third set with 6 straight points, though Elizabethtown worked its way back into things, at one point holding a 20-19 advantage. With the score tied at 21-21, Garden Spot scored the final 4 points to win 25-21 and go home with a 3-0 victory.
Senior Shawna Zeiset led all players with 18 kills for the Spartans. Fellow senior Sarah Shirk and junior Kelly Martin did the same with 27 assists and 24 digs, respectively. The latter also had 5 service aces. For Elizabethtown, freshman Kallee Locker had a team-high 9 kills, while juniors Hayden Calaman and Ashley Nyesmith had 16 assists and 15 digs, respectively. Freshman Sydney Stewart chipped in with 5 service aces.
The Lady Bears went on the road Thursday, Oct. 18, to go up against South Western for the regular season finale. Unlike the previous game, however, it was all Mustangs in this one. Leading 14-11 midway through the first half, South Western went on a 9-0 run from there, later winning 25-12.
Elizabethtown kept things closer in the second set, at one point narrowing the gap to 17-13. However, the Mustangs then started a 6-0 run, pulling away to win 25-15. They then held the Lady Bears off in the final set, winning 25-16 for a clean 3-0 sweep.
It was Senior Night for South Western, so it was fitting that the graduating class shined the brightest. Madisyn McMaster and Savanna Stephens each had a game-high 9 kills, while Megan Wolf had 21 digs. Junior Jacy Crouse led all players with 28 assists. Sophomore Kristin Geesey led the Lady Bears in kills with 6, as did Calaman in assists (6) and Nyesmith in digs (12). Elizabethtown finished the regular season with a record of 12-4.
Finally, Elizabethtown faced Manheim Township in the first round of the L-L League playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Garden Spot. Playing without Nyesmith, senior Grace Murray and junior McKenna Dare (the latter two due to injury), the Lady Bears began the game slowly. The Blue Streaks took a 13-12 lead in the first set and never looked back, eventually winning 25-18.
The second set was close to start, but Manheim Township dominated after the midway point, going on a 5-0 run and scoring the final 4 points as well to win 25-14. The Lady Bears battled back in the third, controlling the pace to win 25-19 and tighten things to 2-1 overall. The final set went back and forth; the score was tied at 15-15 midway through. The Blue Streaks got the lead, however, and were able to fend off a late Elizabethtown push to win 25-22 for a 3-1 victory.
Senior Alicia Thorsen and junior Trinity Tull shared the lead in kills at 10 for Manheim Township. The former also had 13 digs, while junior Katie Bushong had a game-high 27 assists. Stewart and Geesey each had 9 kills for Elizabethtown. Senior Katie Kimbark, playing at the libero position in Nyesmith’s place, performed admirably as well, finishing with 9 digs. Locker had 4 blocks, while senior Julia Rathsam had 24 assists. The latter had previously gone over the 2,000-assist mark for her career earlier in the season.
The season is still alive for the Lady Bears. They finished as the No. 10 seed in Class 4A for District 3 and will take on No. 7 Dallastown in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday, Oct. 27, at Exeter. Elizabethtown previously played the Wildcats in the first round of the last two years as well, winning both times.