Girls get ready for playoffs
The regular season came to a close last Wednesday for the Whitehall girls volleyball team, ending their 2013 campaign that featured a return to the postseason.
With that berth secure, it's now just a waiting game as they prepare for the District XI tourney that begins Oct. 24.
Their final game was against Parkland High School who entered the match undefeated. The Trojans retained their unblemished status, sweeping the Zephs 25-12, 25-11, 25-16.
It was a match in which the Zephs drew close a number of times, cutting the lead to two points early in game two, but Parkland's size in the frontcourt prevented them from sustaining any rallies. They were like a big red wave that rose up every time Whitehall looked to mount a run.
While a win against Parkland may have been a tall order, head coach Rob Gardner felt his team did a better job mixing it up with their league rivals this time they faced them.
"The effort tonight was much, much better than the effort when we played them the first time," said Gardner. "Parkland's a great team; they're very quick; they're very fast. We were moving better. We were hitting the ball better."
He said they took a number of positives away from the game, namely the fact that they improved from their first encounter, scoring more points in Wednesday's finale.
"That's all I can ask of these girls," said Gardner. "I think they did a great job."
Gardner said that Parkland's size poses a problem since they can "hit over their middle." Still, the Zephs managed to snuff some of those hits.
"We did a god job trying to stay up with them, and we did a good job on our defense passing the ball," said Gardner.
Whitehall got terrific play from Cristal Fernandez and Olivia Bobyak, the former creating an electric moment with a huge block at the net, while Bobyak continued to register kills to lead the Zephs this season.
Bobyak closed out her senior season with 100 "net" kills, reaching that mark in their win over Northampton Area High School. Gardner said that a "net" kill takes the number of attempts, then divides it by the number of kills, minus the errors. He said that the true, or net, kill represents a real point, and is something difficult to achieve.
Returning to the postseason after last year's absence was a goal that the Zephs fulfilled by rising to the occasion like they did in their match against the Kids that catapulted them into the tourney. Gardner said his team was ready, and despite losing the first game, they focused on the next three because "they wanted it really bad."
Gardner said that Madison Scarfaro and Bobyak played well in helping the team cross that hurdle into the postseason.
Gardner told his team after the Parkland game that they exceeded a lot of people's expectations by making districts. He said it was achieved by playing well and beating the teams they had to beat.
"They've had a really, really good season," said Gardner. "They've been a good team and a fun team to coach. They put a lot of effort into what they do. It's been great."