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EHS volleyball suffers first setback of 2021

The Emmaus High School boys volleyball team had just the start head coach Ken Dunkle and his staff had hoped for after missing a full season of play last year. The Green Hornets won their opening four matches of the 2021 season and had started the new year with positive momentum.

But Emmaus faced its first adversity on the season when it fell to Whitehall in Eastern Pennsylvania Conference play last Friday evening at Emmaus High School, 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 25-22, 25-19).

“We are off to a good start, but this match certainly let us know that we have some things we need to work on,” said Dunkle. “Whitehall definitely has a solid team with good athletes.

“That’s definitely a huge benefit to having multisport athletes. Not to take away from them in their win, but I think it was just as much what we didn’t do well that made the difference.”

After falling short in the opening set, the Green Hornets were able to bounce back in set two to even the match at 1-1. But the Zephyrs (4-1) seized momentum right back and used that to take the next two sets to finish off the match.

“We were a little tentative out of the gate and weren’t quite able to overcome that,” Dunkle said. “I think set two was where we were able to get clicking and build on the momentum we got back a bit in set one, but we let that slip in the third and weren’t ever able to get it back.

“Volleyball is a game of shifting momentum. The key is to understand that and limit the time where it has shifted to the other team. When the momentum shifted to Whitehall, I don’t think we were confident enough in our abilities as individuals and as a team, so we started forcing things and making more errors in an effort to not make mistakes. We had 28 more unforced errors than we had earned points. That’s not a recipe for winning. We had 20 service errors to only five aces.”

Watching the match on film, Dunkle saw his players were a big tentative, trying not to make errors.

“We need to get to the point where we can play aggressively, understanding that we are going to make mistakes, but be confident in the fact that if we work hard, rely on strong foundational skills, and trust each other as a team, we will be successful,” he said. “That might not always mean we get the win, but we will still be a successful team.”

Kyle McKiernan led the offensive attack with 15 kills, while Nick Blose added 10 kills and 12 digs. Haydn Child recorded 20 digs and both Gannon DeFrain and Ben Maskiell contributed 17 assists.

“The whole unit has been playing well as a whole,” said Dunkle. “Kyle McKiernan has been doing a great job on the outside making good decisions with his hitting. When he is contacting the ball high, he’s almost unstoppable.

“Having Gannon DeFrain and Ben Maskiell setting a 6-2 has also given us more offense on the right side which has been a positive for the team. Haydn Child has been doing a good job anchoring our defense.”

PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Nick Blose had 10 kills and 12 digs against Whitehall.