EHS boys volleyball battled adversity late in 2019 season
The Emmaus boys volleyball team dealt with some unexpected adversity all season. Unlike the past few seasons, this year’s team had a young and inexperienced roster and then injuries and roster turnover made it more difficult to win matches in a balanced Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and District 11.
After falling to EPC champion Whitehall in the semifinals of the league tournament, the Green Hornets, the defending district champs, fell to Freedom in straight sets 25-12, 25-23 and 25-14 last Thursday evening in the District 11 Class 3A quarterfinals at Freedom High School. Emmaus’ season ended with three straight losses after dropping its regular season finale against Parkland.
“It was a tough end to the season,” said Hornet head coach Ken Dunkle. “It’s not the way we had hoped to finish the year when we met at the beginning of the season. But the kids fought and played hard and I couldn’t ask for more. Freedom just played better tonight.”
The Green Hornets had won the last two district titles, but knew that it would be more difficult this season with the amount of talent and experience that had graduated from the program over the last two seasons. Add onto that a season-ending injury to senior starter Stephen Reynolds with a few games left in the regular season and classmate and fellow senior Ethan Parvel leaving the program, it made the job even more difficult.
“We dealt with some adversity and had a younger team this year,” Dunkle said. “Losing our two outside hitters was definitely a big hit. We basically had to do a mini tryout for the position and see what our best options were. They learned some valuable life lessons this season that winning doesn’t always teach.”
After an opening set that the Patriots (19-4 overall) handled rather easily, the Green Hornets (12-6) could have been deflated and hung their heads, but as they did all season, they battled back and did not let adversity get the better of them.
In set two, the back-and-forth play continued to the final points before Freedom held on at the very end for a 25-23 victory.
Seeing a chance at tying the match slip through their fingers proved to be tough to bounce back from as Freedom controlled the third set on its way to a 25-14 win and match victory.
“They’ve played well all year,” said Dunkle on Freedom. “We had to play two really good teams in Freedom and Whitehall in our postseason games. Those two have stood out among the rest this season.
Emmaus will graduate Reynolds, Callen Reid, Harrison Dottery, Bryce Diehl, Mark Swedberg and Owen Kennedy.
Dunkle now looks forward to next season.
“Even though we are losing a lot of talent, we have a solid crew returning next year or moving up from JV,” said Dunkle. “I’m not concerned that we won’t be able to backfill any of the positions being vacated. We have been fortunate enough to be one of the strongest teams in the district for as far back as I can remember. While we didn’t reach our goal this year, I think there were some valuable lessons learned. While we ended the regular season a very respectable 12-4, it seemed a little disappointing considering our history. Hopefully we can use that as motivation next year to come back stronger.”