EHS beats WHS again
With the district title on the line in set three, the Whitehall boys volleyball team needed to stop a surging Emmaus squad to avoid the sweep.
They narrowly missed upending the Green Hornets in the first set, losing by two points to the undefeated denizens of Macungie Street, and as the third set began, they got out to a healthy 8-2 lead.
If they could maintain that lead, they would be able to prolong the match and see if they could seize the momentum and dethrone Emmaus as the reigning district champs.
But playing the Hornets can be like trying to contain a fire, and Emmaus kept chipping away, eventually tying the set at 13-13. From that point, the two teams engaged in a back-and-forth battle with Emmaus edging them by two points again, 23-25, successfully defending their District XI 3A title at Allen High School last week.
It was the second year in a row that the two teams faced one another in the district finals. Last year’s team also lost in three sets, and head coach George Cowitch knew it would be a tall order to unseat the defensing champs, especially with a young cast that features only Joe Herman as returning in a starting role.
Cowitch believed that the third set followed the same script as the first where they were right on the verge of winning the game.
“I feel we outplayed them in the first set,” said Cowitch. “The second set, we gave a lot of effort in the first, so second set was a little tougher, so yeah, up five or six at some point in time [during the third set], so it’s got to be better.”
Emmaus’s talent and experience makes them a tough team to beat. It was a matter of capitalizing when they had Emmaus on their heels.
“They didn’t play their best,” said Cowitch “We played our best. We just got some breaks that didn’t go our way.”
In that third set as they tried to stave off elimination, the Zephyrs hot start was fueled by an Alex Khouri ace making it 5-1, a Herman tip that got them to 6-2, and a Dylan McGinley block that expanded the lead to 8-2.
But the Hornets began to make their steady climb with plays by James Haag and Cameron Parsons.
But Sami Barhoum helped keep them from overtaking them with a couple of inspired kills at the next, but Emmaus surged ahead to take a 14-13 lead.
Herman got them tied again after back-to-back kills, and then Khouri put them ahead 18-17 with a big swat, but Emmaus, who showcased their blocking ability throughout the match, got some big blocks late in the set to help them pull away for the victory. They ended the set, and match, on a Haag kill, clinching the title yet again.
For the second time this postseason, Whitehall survived a grueling five-setter, this time the opponent was Parkland. The Zephs defeated the Trojans 23-25, 25-22, 20-25, 25-10, 16-14 to advance to the finals. In that win, Herman had 18 kills and 11 digs, while Khouri registered 14 kills and three blocks, and Barhoum had 12 kills and 10 digs. Additionally, Ricky Melosky had 44 assists, five blocks and two aces, while Aziz Atiyeh had 13 digs, and Hunter Pinkey registered six blocks.
Whitehall will now advance to the state playoffs which get underway this week. Their opening round game in the PIAA 3A playoffs will be on May 29 at Nazareth Area High School. They will have played Central York (14-2) from District 3.