Zephs season ends at states
The Whitehall boys volleyball season ended in Nazareth last week after getting bounced in the opening round of the state playoffs by Central York.
The Zephyrs found themselves locked in another grueling, five-set match, their third this postseason. The Panthers got out to a 1-0 lead, but Whitehall quickly erased that deficit by winning the next two sets.
With an opportunity to move into the quarters, the Panthers prevented the Zephyrs from advancing by winning the do-or-die set, 25-14, forcing the tiebreaker. Central York was then able to complete the comeback, taking the match 3-2 with their 15-8 win in the tiebreaker.
It was another successful season for the Zephyrs who finished 19-5 on the season. While the hope was that they would be playing into June, the Zephyrs were just seven points away from extending their season against the defending state champs.
Head coach George Cowitch said that they came into the state playoff game ready to play and put everything on the line.
“As a coaching staff, it was nice to see our guys come out and play with intensity when the match started,” said Cowitch. “We got down early in set one, but were able to fight back and tie it at twenty-two, but couldn’t push the points at the end.”
Once they were down 1-0, they didn’t let that disappointment dictate how they played the next two sets, winning both to put them on the cusp of victory.
“Sets two and three we controlled, and were able to do what we wanted while taking them out of their game,” said Cowitch. “Sets four and five we struggled and just didn’t kill the ball enough to win against an elite team like Central York.”
Central York has now advanced to the 3A semifinals where they’ll play North Allegheny. On the other side of the bracket, Emmaus faces Hempfield High School with a shot to make it to the finals. Central York defeated the Green Hornets last season in the semifinals on their way to a state title.
The Zephyrs made it to both the league and district finals this season. And, they accomplished those feats with a relatively young lineup. They just happen to have one of the best teams in the state occupying the same division.
They’ll lose senior Sami Barhoum this season. Barhoum provided them with outstanding play all over the court. Numerous times during the season he would spark them with a big kill or block, something that was celebrated by his dedicated fan base at games. Barhoum will be the only player who graduates from a team that’s reached the district finals the last two seasons.
“Sam’s contribution to this team was helpful, being the only senior we had on this team,” said Cowitch. “He was able to keep the guys together at times, and really helped us with the leadership aspect.”
As Cowitch looks ahead to next season, he knows that simply being more experienced doesn’t translate to victories.
“As for our youth, we have a really great problem to have in that,” said Cowitch. “Still, nothing is guaranteed, just because we will be a year older, doesn’t make us better. If we put in the time in the offseason and do things right, hopefully we can be talking about a championship season in this same article come next season.”