I am back. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I was detained all of this week. I know, you all barely missed me. But, I was indeed out of commission for reasons we don’t need to discuss. But I did — after a very long Thursday — have the opportunity to drive up to New Milford for the Dunmore at Blue Ridge girls volleyball match. I wouldn’t let my temporary setback keep me from this much-anticipated showdown.
Sometimes, sports just puts a lump in your throat. You could be someone who rarely shows any emotion, and a small gesture just unleashes the water works.
At Blue Ridge there were two such occasions.
First, it was the girls volleyball team’s annual Pink Out in support of Breast Cancer Awareness. Now, these events go on across NEPA and I say unfortunately, only because we are still waging a war against this disease. The captains of the Raiders presented a check for monies raised, a ceremony we see at just about every school, and still maintains its significance. Most of the fans and students in attendance were wearing pink shirts, including the Blue Ridge coaching staff. So, that certainly got the night off to a spirited start.
Then the school honored the seniors at Blue Ridge — Abby Hartman, Alexa Stanley, Emma Glezen, Miranda Woosman and Kalynne Myers. Again, this is an event that is celebrated at every school in NEPA. This one, however, took it to another level.
Kalynne Myers was the final player announced. She came out in her uniform, just like her teammates. But, her left leg had a very large brace helping her to walk and support her weight. Myers’ list of accomplishments was long both academically and athletically. Last season, she was one of the catalysts to a great season where Blue Ridge won a state playoff match and gave eventual runner-up Marian Catholic a scare in Class 1A. Myers earned All-Region honors with 139 kills, 172 serving points and 246 assists. It was a complete season worthy of her postseason recognition. And made her a preseason favorite for Player of the Year in 2017.
That all changed in the third match of this season. She injured that left knee. Early indications were, she might be back at some point. Until she tried. Then, reality set in. Myers needed surgery and her high school career had been cut short. Her senior season — the one she waited for — prematurely ended. During the season, she upheld her responsibilities as team captain. She was her team’s biggest supporter. A team that while still very talented, needed her leadership due to so many new faces in the lineup. Myers guided. She inspired.
As Dunmore and Blue Ridge starting lineups were announced, Kalynne Myers got caught off guard. In her uniform, she went through the receiving line, just as she had many times before, slapping hands with teammates and Dunmore coach Sue Dempsey. Looking a bit confused, and with a little shove in the right direction, Myers took her spot with the starters along the net on the court just smiling. The game started and Blue Ridge coach Lori Zick called for a substitution. Myers was replaced for her own safety, but she started and she came off to a rousing ovation and welcoming embrace from her coach. She lost her composure and so did many in attendance. It was an outpouring of love.
“I have been playing with her since freshman year, we started on JV together. Having her out there brought back happy memories. I am happy that she got to do that. I wish that she was out there to enjoy the win, but I am glad she got to watch it and we were allowed to make her proud.”
— Alexa Stanley
Blue Ridge senior
“That felt really good. I was so glad that she was able to start. I feel so bad for her. She was a big loss to our team. To see her on the court definitely brought our spirits up.”
— Abby Hartman
Blue Ridge senior
I may not do this job forever, but when I am gone, I will remember many of the great games I have covered. But it’s moments like this that I will cherish to have had the luck to be there to see in person.
OK, now to the Main Event. This was the second meeting between the two powerhouse programs. Dunmore won the first, 3-0, and did so impressively. The Lady Bucks are the only Lackawanna League team to beat Blue Ridge in the last two seasons. If the Lady Raiders wanted a shot to defend their 2016 championship, they had to even the two-match series in the regular season.
Dunmore came out and played with a high level of intensity. The unbeaten Lady Bucks, who had won 22 straight regular-season matches stormed to an impressive 25-16 win and really stymied a lot of the pregame hoopla in the cozy Blue Ridge gymnasium. Marlena Pegula started the match with a pair of aces and Dunmore never looked back. Shannon Czekaj also had a pair of aces and the Lady Bucks were off and running. It was the sixth straight set Dunmore won over Blue Ridge.
Set 1: Key on some of the saves!
In the second set, the two teams went back and forth, which is to be expected when two teams equally balanced meet with rally scoring. Then, Blue Ridge got going. Abby Hartman delivered her first really strong kill during a five-point scoring run by Alyssa Sherwood. The Lady Raiders seized an 18-12 lead and went on for a 25-22 victory that ended the set losing streak to Dunmore and gave them the momentum for the first time in the match.
Abby Hartman certainly wasn’t done. She got the ball for a serve and after scoring only 1 point in her other attempts, the powerful overhand got hot. She had three aces as part of an eight-point run that really energized the student section and the team. The surge gave the Lady Raiders a 14-10 advantage and that is a tough lead to overcome when the teams are on the same level. Dunmore did fight back to 19-19, but then Alexa Stanley had a small run to make it 22-19. Dunmore responded, again, tying it at 24-24, before Hartman had a kill and a serving point to close it out at 26-24.
Dunmore got off to fast start as Sam Domzalski led a 3-0 surge. But, Blue Ridge played with confidence. Makenzie Cook got the Lady Raiders back on track with a five-point run. Dunmore’s Rita Aronica did her part with three kills in four points to give her team back the lead. 12-9. But Miranda Woosman had a four-point serving run and Abby Hartman took matters into her own hand with three kills in Blue Ridge’s final five points in a 25-18 win that secured the 3-1 victory.
Set 3: Blue Ridge defeats Dunmore
Now, Blue Ridge is 16-1 with a match at Abington Heights on Tuesday to finish the regular season. Dunmore is 15-1 with a match at home against Elk Lake on Tuesday and at Western Wayne on Thursday.
If they finished tied? Well, I am still efforting to find out if a tie would require a playoff match. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet.
Any way, just to wrap things up. … Look at what these two programs have done the last four years in building this rivalry, which has truly helped fuel interest in girls volleyball.
BY THE NUMBERS
15 – 1
16 – 1
16 – 2
17 – 1
18 – 0
15 – 3
17 – 1
13 – 5
66 – 4
61 – 10
2017 LACKAWANA LEAGUE STANDINGS
Through Oct. 19
District 2 playoff standings
CLASS 3A: District 2 is also involved in a subregional with District 4. Six teams will qualify for the AAA tournament. Three teams will come from the WVC, one team (there are only 2 AAA schools in the LIAA) from the LIAA, one spot will be a wild card and one will come from a sub-region formed with District IV — Shamokin. District IV has a policy that their teams must have a .500 winning percentage in order to participate in postseason. In the event that Shamokin does not qualify for the subregion tournament, the WVC will get a fourth entry. The wildcard will be the next highest winning percentage of the remaining teams in AAA. For the first round, the top 2 teams will get a bye.
CLASS 2A: Six teams will qualify for the AA tournament. Two teams will come from the Wyoming Valley Conference, two teams will come from the LIAA and there will be two wildcards. If any 2A team wins their respective conference, they will
be seeded #1. If a 2A team from both the LIAA and WVC win their league, seeding will take place on winning percentage. The team with the highest winning percentage will be seeded #1 and the other will be seeded #2. In the event that both teams finish with the same winning percentage, the district tiebreaker procedure will be utilized. The rest of the seeding will be done on winning percentage. These will all be based on league record. The 2 wild cards will be the next 2 highest winning percent in the league. For the first round, the top 2 seeds will get a bye.
CLASS 1A: Since there are only 4 schools in District II, all 4 teams will be invited to participate in the District tournament.
WYOMING VALLEY CONFERENCE
Delaware Valley continues to play at a high level despite having a very busy week. While I was out of commission, the Lady Warriors played four matches in four nights and improved to 14-1 overall. They beat Crestwood, 3-0; Berwick, 3-0; Lake-Lehman, 3-0; and Meyers, 3-0. Brooke Williams led the way with 55 kills and 46 serving points in the four matches. Kristin Volavka had 82 assists, Liz Bobo had 22 kills and 41 serving points, and Centa Quinn had 24 kills, 27 points and seven aces in the week.
Delaware Valley is in the postseason, so too is Wyoming Valley West. The District 11 teams are finished with their regular season and seeding will take place as soon as the Wyoming Valley Conference completes its season on Tuesday.
District 2-11 Class 4A playoff standings
Had 20 kills in a win over Susquehanna and had 18 kills in a win over Forest City.
Had 33 assists in win over Susquehanna; Had 41 assists in a win over Forest City.
Had 6 aces, 12 points in win over Lackawanna Trail; Had 5 kills in win over Mountain View.
Had 12 assists in win over Lackawanna Trail; Had 12 assists, 10 points and 6 aces in win over Mountain View.
Had 8 kills in win over Mountain View and 9 kills and 6 digs against Susquehanna.
Had 22 points, 8 aces and 9 digs in a win over Montrose.
Delaware Valley is a power team and it’s not likely it is moving out of the No. 1 spot. It’s clear, with the head-to-head even at 1, Dunmore and Blue Ridge must share the No. 2 position. Abington Heights has the chance to impact the Lackawanna League championship race with its home match against Blue Ridge coming up this week.
JOBY’S TOP 5
1. DELAWARE VALLEY LADY WARRIORS (14-1)
Last Rank: 1
Beat Crestwood, 3-0; Beat Berwick, 3-0; Beat Lake-Lehman, 3-0; Beat Meyers, 3-0. Next: Monday vs. MMI Prep; Tuesday vs. Coughlin.
2t. BLUE RIDGE LADY RAIDERS (16-1)
Last Rank: 3
Beat Elk Lake, 3-0; Beat Dunmore, 3-1. Next: Tuesday at Abington Heights.
2t. DUNMORE LADY BUCKS (15-1)
Last Rank: 2
Beat Forest City, 3-1; Lost to Blue Ridge, 3-1. Next: Tuesday vs. Elk Lake; Thursday at Western Wayne.
4. ABINGTON HEIGHTS LADY COMETS (14-3)
Last Rank: 4
Beat Susquehanna, 3-0; Beat Forest City, 3-2. Next: Tuesday vs. Blue Ridge.
5. WESTERN WAYNE LADY ‘CATS (10-6)
Last Rank: 5
Beat Lackawanna Trail, 3-0; Beat Mountain View, 3-0. Next: Tuesday vs. Susquehanna; Thursday vs. Dunmore.
Teams to watch: Forest City (9-8).
That is all for today.
Regular season officially ends Thursday, so I will try to get back ON THE BLOG on Friday. Should be a good finish.