The Section Two leaders in the Lancaster-Lebanon League traveled to Cedar Cliff for a nonleague match and left with their fifth victory of the season on Monday, Sept. 25.
Elizabethtown (5-0, 4-0) defeated Cedar Cliff 3-0 (25-9, 25-13, 25-11). The win was the Bears’ third consecutive 3-0 victory. The team has only dropped two sets all season (at Garden Spot on Sept. 11).
The Bears started the match by taking the first five points of the first set. Cedar Cliff took the sixth point, but Elizabethtown’s hot start carried them to a 14-3 start. As the set progressed to 23-9, Elizabethtown finished it off with back-to-back aces.
The Bears faced more resistance at the beginning of the second set as the Colts took five of the first eight points. Much like the first set, Elizabethtown made an extended run, 15-3, to take control of the set.
Throughout the run, and the entire game, junior Grace Murray (above) found several soft spots in Cedar Cliff’s defense that allowed her to dink the ball over the net rather than rely solely on a spike. She led the team with 10 kills in part because of her approach.
“Grace gives us some flexibility. She likes to hit the ball on the seams and the middle-back area. We’re trying to get her to work on turning the ball more and the tip forward. She did a lot better job tonight. She still wants to hit everything hard, but she did a real good job tonight,” coach Dave Pittman said.
After the Manheim Central match on Sept. 14, Pittman said that the team tried to hit the ball hard every time rather than a balance to keep the Barons guessing. The match against the Colts represented a step forward in that regard.
“We’ve been working on our defensive specialists calling where to hit the ball. Some of the things that I’m looking at is what they’re doing. If they drive real hard back as soon as we set the ball then we’re going to look to tip the ball,” Pittman said.
The third set was marked by an 8-0 run from Elizabethtown after the set was 5-4 in the Bears’ favor. The final three points were won by Elizabethtown and senior Montana Sauder ended the game with a kill.
Junior libero Rebecca Epps recorded a team-high four aces and eight digs. Murray, Bri Eberly and Marley Kreiser were each responsible for a block. Junior setter Julia Rathsam led the team with 32 assists.
Elizabethtown competed at the Cumberland Valley Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 23, and Pittman said that his team did not pass the ball particularly well at the tournament. He was looking for the team to bounceback against Cedar Cliff and he said that they did just that.
“We had a long weekend. I thought we passed the ball much better tonight. We could run our offense so it was a lot easier on the girls, but we have a long week ahead of us,” Pittman said.
At the time he spoke, Elizabethtown’s next three opponents were Solanco (0-5, 0-4), Warwick (7-1, 4-1) and Garden Spot (6-1, 3-1).
In anticipation of those matchups, Pittman said the team’s passing will be a vital part of how the matches turn out.
“We need to pass the ball better. We tried a couple combinations tonight and we’re going to do that the rest of the week and see how we do. When we play well, we pass the ball well. I thought we got a little complacent over the weekend so we need to regain our focus,” Pittman said.