The Parkland Trojan volleyball team clinched the District 11 Class 4A championship with a 3-0 (25-18, 27-25, 26-24) victory over Liberty last Thursday night at Catasauqua High School.
“This was, I think, one of the best matches in the state,” said Parkland head coach Mike Krause. “It’s unfortunate for District 11 that we only send one team (to states) because Liberty would definitely [do well] at the state level. They can pass the ball. They serve hard. Lora (Flynn), the setter, locates the ball so well.”
Liberty is ranked number five in Pennsylvania, and Parkland is ranked number two, but it was the Trojans who began to stake their district claim with Allison Reimer’s kill to the back corner to win the first set.
No sooner had the second set started when Parkland middle hitter Elena Pursell fell down on her left ankle after going up for a block and was helped off the court.
Liberty scored two quick points, Pursell reentered the game at 9-7, and the Hurricanes continued their scoring spree, leading 17-11 when Parkland called a timeout.
The teams returned to the court, and Liberty picked up where it left off on a huge kill by senior Sydney Houchens prompting another Parkland timeout.
“We practice adversity and have kids on both sides of the net working really hard, so it’s a credit to the assistant coaches and the kids on the bench,” Krause said.
As Parkland began gaining on Liberty, the Hurricanes called their own timeout.
“When you play teams like Parkland, you gotta close the door on them,” said Liberty coach Connor Swigart. “We had a few opportunities. I think that changes the dynamic of the match a lot.”
Reimer’s ace tied the set. Pursell’s kill took the lead and an ace by Ava Adamson won the set for the Trojans.
“The coaches were giving us spots and my whole run, I was going to one, but last minute they told me to go to six, and that’s what I did,” Adamson said. “It really did feel great, but I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to serve without the rest of the team bringing us there.”
Midway through the third set, Liberty sophomore Bailey Corrigan’s kill seemed to be a boost for the Hurricanes as the teams tied three times.
Parkland then scored three straight, but anticipating match point, Liberty made the Trojans wait for it.
“They got a nice four-point lead on us at the end of that third set,” Swigart said, “and to take it back to extras, that reveals the character of a team, and they’re just fighters. These seven seniors are my first class to come through. Losing them is gonna hurt a lot, but I know there will be kids there to replenish that.”
Parkland’s first round match in the PIAA State Volleyball Tournament will have been played on Tuesday when the Trojans will have hosted Plymouth-Whitemarsh from District 1.