Coming off a tough 3-2 loss to Nazareth (25-19, 20-25, 25-23, 16-25, 10-15) at the beginning of last week, the Emmaus girls volleyball team had hopes of rebounding from its first conference loss of the season.
The Hornets did so with a dominant performance two days later against Northampton divisional play in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference’s Skyline Division. The Hornets (4-1 overall, 4-1 in EPC) downed the Konkrete Kids (2-5 overall, 1-4 in EPC) in straight sets (25-14, 25-14, 25-10) on Thursday at Emmaus High School.
After a pair of deflating losses in Games 3 and 4 of their Blue Mountain League semifinals matchup against Northampton, Limeport co-manager Mike Cudwadie knew two things: The Bulls needed a quick start and their bats needed to come alive in Game 5.
Limeport scored 15 runs in Games 1 and 2 of that series to take a 2-0 lead. But the bats seemed to disappear after Northampton evened the series at two games apiece and held the Bulls to just one run.
Jake Hebert's story is a unique one.
Hebert, one of a handful of talented pitchers on the Northern Yankees' pitching staff, grew up in Missouri and later attended his first years of college in Illinois. Just last November, Hebert moved to the Macungie area and transfered to Lehigh Carbon Community College where he plays baseball in the spring.
On Sunday night, Hebert brought the Yankees one step closer to their first Blue Mountain League title after experiencing plenty of success in the Tri-County League.
Just a week ago, it looked as if the road to another championship appearance in the Blue Mountain League would be easy for Limeport.
The Bulls, who finished the regular season with the No. 1 seed in the playoffs at 25-11, quickly built a 2-0 series lead against the Northampton Giants. A pitching spectacle from ace Adam Maini in Game 1 led to an 8-0 win. A 7-5 victory the next day brought the Bulls within one win of their fourth championship appearance in six years.
After plenty of success in the Tri-County ranks in recent years, the Northern Yankees transitioned to the Blue Mountain League a year ago with much of the same triumph. In their inaugural BML season, the Yankees were one of the final four teams standing in last year's playoffs.
But a 1-0 series lead in the semifinals against Limeport quickly diminished to a 3-1 series defeat in a matter of days, leaving an uneasy feeling in the Yankees' stomachs.
When Tim Hertzog took over the Lower Macungie Connie Mack team this summer, he would have been pleased with a .500 record.
Lower Mac achieved more than that, and one win separated the Mustangs from a potential spot in the state tournament. After a 10-8 record in the regular season, a 2-1 series defeat to Nazareth was the only thing that kept Lower Mac from being one of six teams representing the Lehigh Valley in states.
And while Hertzog would have enjoyed that stage with such a young team, he's particularly proud of how Lower Mac finished 2015.
In four meetings this season, including a match at the Koller Classic Invitational, the Emmaus volleyball team put together its best set of the season against Parkland to open last week's District 11 Class AAA championship.
Yet it still wasn't enough.
The Hornets, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, held a 23-21 advantage on a Patrick Bryan kill set up by Robert Haag in the opening set.
Emmaus' Katie Bacher remembers just how close she was to missing states last year in the 1600-meter run.
The junior finished in third place in last year's meet, but after the first- and second-place finishers dropped the 1600 to focus on other events in states, Bacher got her opportunity on the highest stop of the podium.
Bacher didn't want to take that risk again this season, so she took matters into her own hands last week at teh District 11 Championships at Whitehall High School.
Emmaus has had a tradition of successful distance runners in recent years.
The current group of Hornets leading those distance events isn't new to the scene. During the William Allen Invitational on Saturday at J. Birney Crum Stadium, juniors Katie Bacher and Ryan Paradise continued their successful seasons on the track.
While both teams entered Thursday's Eastern Pennsylvania Conference boys volleyball clash without a blemish on their league records, the Hornets knew the task at hand against Parkland would be a tough one.
After dropping the first two games 25-13 and 25-18, respectively, it looked as if Emmaus had found its rhythm. However, every time the Hornets threatened in the third game, Parkland had an answer and eventually won the game 26-24.