Lady Mounts bow to Hempfield in Sweet 16
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
When it all was said and done, it came as no surprise that Hempfield closed out Ephrata’s season Saturday at Central York High School with a 3-0 victory.
Afterall, Hempfield is the top seed in the District Three AAA field, undefeated at 15-0, State runners-up from a year ago and the odds-on favorites to win the district title. What was a bit of a surprise, or better yet a testament to a team that overcame injuries and adversity, is the fact that it came in the Sweet 16 round of Districts.
That says it all about the Lady Mounts, who closed out the season at 11-7.
"The girls worked extremely hard all season and deserved to be there," Ephrata Coach Jamie Lesher said. "I am extremely proud of the girls because we worked through several injuries and they were able to overcome such adversity…It truly speaks volumes for the girls as a team. We had the experience with seven seniors and four of them starters. One of our goals was to get into districts which extended our season by two weeks."
After closing out the regular season at 10-6, Ephrata earned the 16th seed and faced a familiar opponent in Cocalico last Thursday at Hempfield in the opening round.
Ephrata, winners of both head-to-head matches with the Lady Eagles during the regular season, dropped the first game, 21-25 Thursday. However, that ability to overcome adversity certainly kicked in as Ephrata took the next three games to win the match 3-1 and advance to Saturday.
Ephrata won by scores of 25-12, 25-17 and 25-16 as Julia Witmer collected eight kills, Kayla Miller added five aces while Morgan Lehman chipped in with four blocks to lead the way.
Kristen Boyer had a match-high 12 kills and seven blocks for Cocalico, but it was not enough as the Lady Eagles were eliminated and closed out the season with a 9-6 mark.
"The girls find Cocalico as a rival so it was a great way to get into districts," Lesher said. "Cocalico had a very strong end of the season by getting wins against Solanco and Manheim Central. We have had several conversations about this and what we were going to do to defeat Cocalico to get into the Sweet 16. After we got our first game nerves out, we pounced on Cocalico. The girls executed their positions and did extremely well working together as a team. It was a great moment for me to be able sit back and let the team take over. They had the desire to win and that is just what they did."
Saturday against Hempfield, the Lady Mounts put in a good fight but in the end were no match for the Black Knights, who are seeking their fifth-straight District Three title.
Hempfield earned three-straight wins by identical 25-13 games to advance. Morgan Lowe, Eliza Donahue, Alecia Rohrer and Brittany McMullen all had eight kills or more to pace Hempfield.
Ephrata’s Brazilian exchange student Ligia Manguino did her part, leading the way with eight kills while Lehman collected three blocks, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Still, the loss did not dampen the spirits of Lesher, who said the season was an overwhelming success.
"After our pre-season, I thought that we had a lot of potential," she said. "We fought through some injuries but never gave up. The girls stuck together and worked through all the changes to the line-up which tells you a lot about the girls and their talent."
"My expectations were high this season, and the girls seemed to accomplish many of our goals," she continued. "There were many stand out moments from players such as Nicole Saylor, a Second Team all-star last year, who set every single game for us and worked extremely hard to set up our hitters. We also had a foreign exchange student from Brazil, Ligia Manguino, who was an asset to our team in every aspect. She did a wonderful job passing, hitting, and serving for us.
"Our defense was then enhanced by Kayla Miller and Andrea Miller who helped us with their passing and digs. And Sarah Hoffer, Julia Witmer, and Katie Witwer got us points with their offense and blocking. Overall, this season was a success. The girls proved themselves and I am very proud of them all." More LADY MOUNTS, page B-4