Expectations were high for the Elizabethtown Area High School girls volleyball team coming into 2019, and the Lady Bears were able to meet the challenge head-on in starting the season off in multiple ways. They kept up with one of the best teams in District 3, showed out at a high-profile tournament and finally came through with a near wire-to-wire victory against a Lancaster-Lebanon League opponent.
The team opened up the year with a road game at Palmyra, the Class 3A district runner-up last season, on Friday, Aug. 30. Despite facing a Cougars team just as good as last year, the Lady Bears were not intimidated during the first set, pulling away late to win 25-22.
Palmyra was able to rebound, however, winning a back-and-forth second set 25-23. The Cougars then blitzed Elizabethtown in the final two sets, winning 25-19 and 25-20 to get the 3-1 victory. Sophomore Kallee Locker led the Lady Bears with 9 kills and 3 blocks. Seniors Hayden Calaman and Ashley Nyesmith finished with a team-high 30 assists and 18 digs, respectively.
Elizabethtown stayed on the court, participating in Trinity’s annual Labor Day Lift Off Tournament on Saturday, Aug. 31, though due to scheduling conflicts, the event was split between Cedar Cliff High School and Camp Hill Sports Center. Taking on five other teams in pool play at Cedar Cliff, the Lady Bears overcame a slow start to top Penn Manor 25-20, rolling over the Comets in the second game 25-12 as well.
They then throttled Harrisburg 25-10, scoring 16 straight points to finish the game thanks to some nice serving from senior Kierra Hinkle. Elizabethtown would cruise to a 25-11 victory in the second game as well before besting Northeastern 25-16 and 25-20 to set up a three-way dance with Cedar Cliff and Lower Dauphin, who each were 6-0 as well.
After the Colts and Falcons split their two games, the Lady Bears fell behind early against Cedar Cliff before scoring nine of the last 12 points to win 25-21. The second was neck and neck as well; tied at 15 all, Elizabethtown outscored the Colts 10-4 down the stretch to get the 25-19 win.
The first game against Lower Dauphin was a wild one. The Falcons led 14-8 early before the Lady Bears climbed back into it; they would score eight straight to take a 22-18 lead. Lower Dauphin fired back, notching five straight to go to game point up 24-23. Once again, Elizabethtown responded, scoring three straight to win 26-24 and clinch the top seed in the pool. The Falcons did prevent the Lady Bears from going undefeated by winning the second game 25-19.
Elizabethtown made quick work of Penns Valley in the play-in game that determined the final bracket, coasting to a 25-15 win and earning a bye. The Lady Bears squared off against York Suburban in the semifinals, charging ahead late after two service aces from sophomore Autumn Nyesmith and a block from senior Krimson Dougherty to win 25-18 and go to the championship … against Palmyra, whom they had played the previous night.
It was back and forth early on, though the Cougars began to take control near the midway point; they held a 14-11 lead near the midway point. A blown call at the net by the referees that allowed Palmyra to score off a double hit wound up being the killer for Elizabethtown; the team lost all momentum after that, allowing Palmyra to score 10 of the last 11 points to win 25-12 and take the title, leaving the Lady Bears as the runner-up.
The Lady Bears kept things going during their home opener on Tuesday, Sept. 3, against Warwick, winning in dominating fashion with wins of 25-11, 25-9 and 25-11 for the 3-0 sweep. Moreover, the Warriors had no kills on the night; all of their points came from Elizabethtown errors, something unheard of in most volleyball games.
It was a balanced attack offensively for the Lady Bears. Senior McKenna Dare led the way with 10 kills. Locker and sophomore Sydney Stewart chipped in with 9 kills each, while senior Haylee Calaman had 6 digs. Ashley Nyesmith came up big with 7 service aces as well. Freshman Gwen Myer led all players with 7 digs for Warwick.
Elizabethtown (1-1) will go on the road to Solanco on Thursday, Sept. 5, before returning home to face Manheim Central on Tuesday, Sept. 10.