Volleyball won its fifth consecutive match and captured a Section Two championship with a 3-0 (25-10, 25-20, 25-16) victory over Lampeter-Strasburg on Monday, Oct. 16.
The Bears edged out Garden Spot (13-2, 7-2) for the Section Two title and were the only team to defeat the Spartans all season.
Garden Spot was the first team Elizabethtown beat to kick-start the five-match winning streak after they suffered their first loss of the season to Warwick.
The last four matches in the five-match winning streak were in straight sets, meaning that the Bears have won 13 consecutive sets dating back to the match against Garden Spot.
Prior to the match against the Pioneers, coach Dave Pittman and the team honored senior middle hitter Bri Eberly for eclipsing the 100 solo block milestone in her career. Eberly reached the threshold against Manheim Township earlier in the season and now has 111 blocks after recording two more, a team-high, against Lampeter-Strasburg. Fittingly enough, Eberly was tied for the team lead in aces (2) and led the team in kills (13).
“Bri has matured so much since her freshman year. She was thrown into the fire as a sophomore and had to compete immediately and be very productive. She handled that situation very good and it just continued through her junior year and now through her senior season,” Pittman said. “As a senior captain, she has brought some good humor to practice and has kept her teammates accountable while still having fun with them. The group is very relaxed and then also focused when the time comes. She has been one of the lynchpins to the success of Elizabethtown volleyball and is certainly a key player within the program’s history.”
The Bears were able to take control of the first set when they won seven of eight points after Lampeter-Strasburg jumped out to an early 4-2 lead. Elizabethtown also won 11 of the final 12 points in the opening set.
The second set was the most tightly contested of the match after Lampeter-Strasburg turned a 17-13 deficit into a 20-18 lead. The Bears, however, were able to put a stop to the run and closed out the set by winning the final seven points.
Pittman said that getting the entire team to fight through tough stretches, no matter who is in, is an important area for the team to grow.
“I don’t like to call timeouts so we want to work through the issues and the girls did a great job coming back,” Pittman said.
When asked why he doesn’t like calling timeouts, Pittman said that the players might look at a timeout as a way to bail themselves out a bad situation.
“They have to work through it. When we can work through it, we need to work through it. If I really think I need to bail them out, then I’ll bail them out,” Pittman said.
He finished that thought with a smile and said, “They don’t need to be bailed out too often.”
Eyeing a section championship, Elizabethtown jumped out to a 7-3 lead in the third set and never looked back.
The Bears won seven straight points in the middle of the set before they closed the set having won the final five points.
The Bears’ run to a section championship began, in part, with open-gym practices in July and Pittman said that he has learned quite a bit about this team since then.
“We’ve got a lot of heart,” he said. “They don’t quit. You could see it on balls at the net tonight. Just the rallies that they’re in. They just stay in the rallies and they don’t quit.”
He was also quick to deflect any success away from the coaching staff, saying that he was particularly happy for the team’s seniors.
“It’s great. It’ll put two up there for us in six years,” Pittman said. “It’s just good to get the program started back in the right direction and it’s really not the coaching. It’s all about the kids.”
The Section Two championship also clinched a home match in the first round of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs for the Bears.
The match was originally scheduled for Friday, Oct. 20, but has been moved to Saturday, Oct. 21, at 10 a.m. due to Elizabethtown’s homecoming on Friday.
The Bears will play the runner-up in Section Three in the first round, which is Cocalico (10-3, 7-2). The Eagles have one section match remaining, but it will not affect their spot in the standings.
The Bears and the Eagles shared two common opponents in Manheim Central and Ephrata this season. The Eagles defeated the Barons 3-1 (25-20, 25-21, 16-25, 25-22) and defeated the Mounts 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-18).
Elizabethtown (12-1, 10-0) defeated Solanco 3-0 (25-10, 25-13, 25-11) to finish the season undefeated in Section Two play on Wednesday, Oct. 19. It was also Senior Night for the Bears.
After the final section match Solanco, Elizabethtown’s regular season finale is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 19, at Dallastown.