Zephs season comes to end
It was a positive end to an otherwise challenging year for the Whitehall girls volleyball team as they defeated Saucon Valley in their final game of the season.
The Zephyrs swept the Panthers on their home court, showcasing a well-balanced attack that had them winning points at the net and the service line.
One of those players who played a big role in helping them net their third win of the year was senior Olivia Ballard. Ballard’s fingerprints were all over the match. She scored the winning points in the first two sets, striking for two consecutive tips to close out the first set, 25-14, and then pounding home a kill to end the second set, 25-20.
She registered a dozen kills, a number of assists, and a few aces during the match, and was a steadying influence throughout the game.
Ballard said that their ability to end the season with a victory came from playing together as a unit.
“I think we played really smart,” said Ballard. “We worked our spots and really came together as a team.”
That unity was tested in the second set when they fell behind 10-5 to the Panthers who were looking to even the match at 1-1. A Ballard kill, coupled with a kill by Joy Sabbagh closed the gap to 11-9. Ballard drew them closer with a tip to cut the lead to a point at 13-12, and when they got the ball back following a Saucon Valley service error, sophomore Brooke Holmes went to work on their service line. Six points later, Holmes’ powerful serve propelled the Zephs into a lead they would never relinquish as they overtook the Panthers with strong play across the board.
Ballard, a four-year varsity member, will be missing the district playoffs for the first time in her career. She’s also had to adjust to three different coaches during that span. Ballard felt that the team adapted well to the change again this season as first-year head coach Victoria Bobyak and her staff worked hard to get to know every player.
Bobyak said that coming into the final game they wanted to make sure it was a strong effort to end the season on a high note.
“I think we came in with the mentality that it’s our last game so let’s just leave it all out there and give it all we have, and we proved that, so I’m very proud of them,” said Bobyak.
She said it was exciting to see how they played together.
“The energy was up; we played as a team, and I can’t ask for much more,” she said.
When the Zephyrs were tested in that second set, Bobyak said that facing such circumstances has been a common theme for them this season. She said they’ve struggled to break the opposing team’s streak and play their game.
This time they took the initiative and didn’t let a five-point run to begin the set swallow them up.
“This game we realized that we have to stop them where they’re at and play our game, and we did that,” said Bobyak. “We focused on us and every single girl did their job.”
It was the last game for seniors Ballard, Taylor Levan, Makaela Letayf, and Amanda Mortimer, who is injured.
“She does everything with such poise and athleticism,” said Bobyak. “She’s been a great player on this team and we’re going to miss her.”
While Ballard’s time is done in the maroon and gold, she’ll be attending Cabrini University next year where she plans to continue her career.
Bobyak said that Levan’s departure as their libero will also be a big loss.
“She’s been great; she’s very quick in the back,” said Bobyak.
Bobyak also said that both Levan and Letayf were very vocal, natural leaders who left a big impact on the team. Mortimer’s play at the net will also be missed, but they retain a number of returnees who should help fill some of those gaps.
Bobyak said that 2019 was both a learning and growing experience for them. She said that she and the coaching staff worked to mold a young team, taking every day as it came. She said it’s now building off the good things they did this season that will prepare them for the upcoming year.