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Zephs season ends with loss to Kids

Whitehall’s boys volleyball season ended in the District XI Class 3A tournament semifinal when the Zephyrs lost to Northampton, 3-1, (23-25, 25-20, 20-25,14-25) on Tuesday at Catasauqua High School.

“Sometimes we didn’t do the little things great, and that hurt us in the end,” said Whitehall coach George Cowitch. “I tell them that every day, and it hurt us a little bit, and you could see it against Northampton.”

The Zephyrs needed the third set, if for nothing else than momentum.

Trailing 13-20 in the third, three consecutive kills by opposite hitter Devin Donatelli threatened to close the gap, but missed serves cost the Zephyrs.

Then, Jack Kocher’s kill to the left corner made the score 20-23, but a serve out of bounds cost the Zephs again.

“It felt like we were going to come back. We take that set, it’s a whole different ballgame, I think,” Coach Cowitch said. “We’ve done that so many times. This year and last year, missed serves killed us.”

The do-or-die fourth set started off well for Whitehall, taking a 9-6 lead on outside hitter Torrey Tyson’s kill down the line.

The Zephyrs and the Konkrete Kids exchanged points, but a block by Northampton’s Jackson Fehnel and Alex Schoenen set up the K-Kids for six straight points. Giancarlo Martinez scored the game winner.

“It was even, and then we got into a rotation where we couldn’t get out, and they were just blocking us, and they were good,” said Cowitch. “They were better than us in set four. It’s just the reality we’re going to have to deal with. I like the way we played and fought all the way up to that point. Couldn’t figure it out.”

Whitehall jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the second set with two Donatelli kills just inside the line and another by Tyson. Northampton began its climb back, but the K-Kids’ late-game errors kept the Zephyrs in the driver’s seat.

Donatelli’s kills in the first set also kept the Zephyrs two points ahead until a kill by Schoenen to the back and a block by Martinez presented a 13-13 tie. A save by Whitehall setter Ethan Ringenberger and another Donatelli kill made the score 23-24, but an out of bounds serve won the set for the K-Kids.

Whitehall will graduate seniors Donatelli, Tyson, Tommy Buskirk, Gavin Fasolka, Anthony Gallo, Eric Nguyen, Aiden Sommer, and Matthew Yadush.

“I think these guys overachieved, for sure” said Cowitch. “It was tough with missing a season for COVID. That hurt them a lot, and that’s not an excuse; it’s just a reality.”

Press photo by Linda Rothrock Jack Kocher looks for a kill during the Zephs game against Northampton in the District 11 semifinals. The Zephs fell to NHS in four games.