The Parkland High School girls volleyball team must be tired of seeing Chester County teams in the PIAA state tournament, especially in the final four. The Trojans, which won state titles in 2014 and 2015, have been eliminated in the semifinal round each of the last four years to a Ches-Mont League team, including the three previous years to Bishop Shanahan.
In a matchup of unbeaten teams, Parkland experienced its first setback of the 20202 season, and had its season come to an end at the hands of District One champion Unionville. The Indians defeated the Trojans in four sets by scores of 26-24, 15-25, 25-23, 25-20 Tuesday night at Unionville High School in Kennett Square.
Parkland finished its season at 14-1 overall while Unionville improved to 14-0 and advanced to the final to take on North Allegheny out of District Seven on Saturday.
“Their net play was very solid,” said Parkland head coach Mike Krause. “The middle blockers were 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-2. They had a strong presence with their block and their outsides hit well.
“[Sophie] Brenner (Unionville) hit a range of shots and she hit with power. She was one of the hardest hitting high school girls I have seen in my career. Their serve receives kept them in system allowing their middles to compromise our block. Their setter had some tempo sets to the outside that created some one-on-one blocking for them.”
There were 14 ties in the opening set. Unionville found itself trailing 21-19 before scoring seven of the final 10 points to pull it out. In the second set, the Trojans jumped to a 5-0 lead, fought off a UHS comeback and wrapped it up with a 13-3 closing rally to even the match.
“The girls played their hearts out,” Krause said. “We knew we had to serve aggressively, pass the ball and make smart shots with our attack. The defense made some great plays to keep the ball alive allowing us to transition to our offense to attack the seams in their defense. They knew it was going to be a close match being a home game for Unionville. Our girls played with intensity and determination to fight to the end against a very powerful and tall opponent.”
Unionville let from start to finish in the third set, but Parkland remained in striking distance through the entirety, just could not get over the hump. The fourth set, Unionville raced out to an 8-2 lead and never gave it back to finish off the match.
Krause is proud of his team, not only for winning a seventh straight District 11 championship and advancing to the state’s final four, but for the players’ hard work and determination in following guidelines and procedures to be able to even have a season this year.
“I think the most important component to the season is we played it to the end,” said Krause. “There was so much doubt every day you came to the gym you did not know if someone was exposed or if someone in class was going to expose a team member. The protocol the school set up really helped mitigate exposure. For us to get through the regular season unblemished was a great accomplishment.
“When we played at Emmaus and we were down two sets to one, we battled back to win that match. That is when I knew this group had some character and knew how to compete. Then to get past Freedom in the [district] semifinals in another five-set match setting up a rematch with Emmaus in the final. The 3-0 outcome represents what this team is about; togetherness, character and the desire to maintain the Parkland volleyball legacy.”
Brynn Dreisbach finished with 26 kills and 13 digs against Unionville, while Scarlett Jago had 12 kills and 13 digs. Jackie Malitzki tallied 36 assists and 12 digs. Leah Brunnabend led the team defensively with 18 digs.
The Trojans will graduate three seniors in Emily Mohr, Brunnabend and Malitzki. Krause credits the trio for making the season what it was and keeping the team together and focused.