Aside from losing to Palmyra and winning a slugfest against Manheim Central, the Elizabethtown Area High School girls volleyball team has been utterly dominant during the early part of 2019, and that continued as the Lady Bears ventured into the heart of Section Two play.
The team went on the road Thursday, Sept. 12, to face Lampeter-Strasburg. The Lady Bears had control from the get-go, pulling away for a 25-13 victory in the first set. They then trounced the Pioneers 25-9 and 25-6 in the final two sets to nab an easy 3-0 sweep.
Sophomore Sydney Stewart led the way with 9 kills. Senior Hayden Calaman had a game-high 18 assists and 4 service aces as well. Senior Kyra Hersh led all players with 8 digs for L-S.
Elizabethtown then participated in Hempfield’s annual Black Knight Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 14, against 12 other teams. The Lady Bears had to compete in the lone five-team group during pool play, losing 25-16 in the first of their two sets against Berks Catholic to get things started. They scored the first five points of the second to grab an early advantage, but the Saints would later go on a 7-0 run to take an 18-15 lead, eventually winning 25-20.
The Lady Bears battled Spring-Ford in the next game. While the Rams scored four straight early on to tie the game at 12-12, Elizabethtown ended up tallying seven of the last eight points to win 25-17. After being down for most of the second set, Spring-Ford was able to battle back and tie the game late at 24-24 before the Lady Bears scored the last two points to win 26-24, capped by a service ace from senior Haylee Calaman.
In the first set against Fleetwood, Elizabethtown opened with six straight points, later finishing with the same number to win 25-14. The Tigers responded by grabbing an 11-7 lead in the second before the Lady Bears recovered, using two separate 4-0 runs to go back up. They finished things off by scoring three of the last four points, all of them kills from Stewart to win 25-23.
Elizabethtown was down 8-5 early in the first set of the final pool game vs. Penn Manor before coming back to take the lead, later winning 25-21. The Lady Bears would dominate the second, winning 25-14 to finish pool play at 6-2, earning them the fourth seed in the six-team playoff bracket.
Their opponent? None other than Section Two rival Garden Spot. Elizabethtown had a brief lead to start before the Spartans scored four straight points off service aces to make the score 9-8. The two sides traded the lead before Garden Spot went on a 6-0 run to take a 17-14 lead.
The Lady Bears came up big late, however. On game point down 24-21, they scored three straight to tie things up and stay alive. After some back and forth play, Hayden Calaman set sophomore Kaller Locker for the game-winning kill, giving Elizabethtown a 28-26 victory and setting up a best-of-three semifinal match with the host team.
The Black Knights entered the game undefeated but had to repeatedly fight off a hungry Lady Bears squad in both sets. Ultimately, Hempfield was able to play keep-away long enough to win 25-21 and 25-22, going on to top Berks Catholic in the finals to win the tournament. Elizabethtown finished the day with a 7-4 record, with the losses split between the two finalists.
Lastly, Elizabethtown returned home to host Lebanon on Tuesday, Sept. 17. To their credit, the Cedars came ready to play, briefly going up 4-2 in the first set. However, the Lady Bears responded with a 4-0 run to grab the lead, gradually pulling away from there to coast to a 25-13 win.
Early in the second, Elizabethtown went wild, using a flurry of service aces to score eight straight points and take a 12-2 lead. The rest of the set went smoothly as well, resulting in a 25-8 victory. Like the first set, Lebanon had a quick 4-2 advantage early in the third, but once again, the Lady Bears scored four straight to take the lead back. They had a 9-0 run afterward, contributing to an eventual 25-10 win and a 3-0 sweep, the team’s fifth straight.
Locker led the way with 8 kills for Elizabethtown, while Hayden Calaman finished with a game-high 22 assists. Where the Lady Bears did the most damage was with their service aces; they finished with a whopping 20 on the night, 7 coming from senior Ashley Nyesmith. Haylee Calaman had 4 as well, while Hayden Calaman and sophomore Autumn Nyesmith each had 3. For Lebanon, junior Deb Gomez finished with 5 kills and a game-high 12 digs.
The Lady Bears (5-1) will have two huge Section Two matches next on the schedule, both at home in Daubert Gym. They’ll square off against undefeated Ephrata on Thursday, Sept. 19; the winner will take temporary possession of first in the section. That will be followed by a rematch against Garden Spot, the reigning section champs, on Tuesday, Sept. 24. In between, Elizabethtown will compete in its final tournament of the year at Cumberland Valley on Saturday, Sept. 21.