EHS wins D11 volleyball title
The Emmaus senior core has been playing together for years. Seniors James Haag and Cam Parsons have been playing together even longer, back to when they were maybe 10 or 11 years old.
The chemistry between those two was quite clear in Thursday’s District 11 Class 3A boys volleyball championship game. And it was only fitting the two would connect for the match-ending point.
Parsons set up Haag for the final point in the 3-0 victory over Whitehall last week at Allen High School. While tested, the Hornets secured the sweep (25-23, 25-11, 25-23) and their second consecutive district championship. They will now advance to the state tournament.
“It feels really special as a senior to go out with a bang on the last play,” Haag said. “But I knew if it wasn’t me, it would be one of my teammates. I know Cameron had a few kills on just dumping the ball, and Matt Swanson had a lot of kills. I trusted that whoever he was going to set was going to put it down.”
The Hornets lost just two sets against East Penn Conference foes all season. Both came in the EPC semifinals against Parkland before Emmaus clawed out a 3-2 victory. Whitehall, however, pushed the Hornets to the brink despite the sweep on the scoreboard.
Emmaus was in a 20-19 hole in the first set when one of its shots was long on the back line. Moments later, Whitehall led 22-21 before the Hornets rallied late. Parsons set up Haag to put the Hornets back in front 23-22, and Thomas Mazzella’s kill ended it shortly later.
Haag finished with 13 kills, and Parsons led the way with 30 assists.
“Last year was the first time in about four or five years I believe that we won districts,” Haag said. “And to do it twice in a row now with this senior class that has so much history with it, it’s just awesome. It’s a great team effort.”
The Hornets had little trouble in the second set. Leading 13-5 after a kill from Haag, Emmaus scored six straight points on Haag’s serve to pull away from the Zephyrs.
With their backs against the wall, though, the Zephyrs wouldn’t go away without a fight. Whitehall opened the third set with a 5-1 advantage and led 8-2 moments later.
But the Hornets’ championship DNA came to light when they needed to most. An 11-5 spurt, capped by a Haag spike at the net, tied the two teams at 13-13 midway through the third set.
Swanson, who finished with four kills, played a huge role on both sides of the net in the third set. His block at the net gave Emmaus its second lead of the set at 19-18. His kill two points later kept the Hornets in front at 20-19, and then Swanson came up with another block on the next serve for a two-point advantage.
Neither team led by more than two points in the third set after that 13-13 tie.
“We knew they were coming in strong with that third set, so we knew we definitely had to push back harder,” Swanson said. “It definitely came down to those last points. It was really tight, and I came in clutch for the team.
“I felt pretty good after the second set, but as they came back we knew we still had to fight. It was definitely a challenge and hard for us, but it was a good game for us at the end.”
Parsons finished with eight kills for Emmaus, and Stephen Reynolds added five more as their team improved to 21-0 this season.
Results from the Hornets’ first round state game against Central High School of Philadelphia, District 12’s runner-up, were not available at time of press. Whitehall also advanced to the state tournament.