Win streak at three as Lady Mounts sweep L-S

By on September 18, 2013

By:

TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor truth.eph@lnpnews.com

, Staff Writer

The Ephrata girls volleyball team, under first-year head coach Melissa Witmer, has itself on a bit of a roll.

And Tuesday night, the Lady Mounts continued their success with a 3-0 sweep of visiting Lampeter-Strasburg.

After a dominant Game One (25-9) victory, the Lady Mounts needed extra volleyball to dispose of the pesky Pioneers, winning the middle contest by a 26-24 decision before putting away L-S, 27-25 in Game Three.

Junior outside hitter Katie Witmer had a big evening, collecting team-highs in both kills (10) and aces (7). Senior Morgan Lehman chipped in with four blocks while Emily Yarger (24 digs) and Nicole Saylor (23 assists) also were key contributors.

The victory was Ephrata’s third-straight, and put the Lady Mounts at 3-2 in Section Two play heading into Thursday’s match at Elizabethtown.

"The girls are doing well," Witmer said Tuesday when asked about the win streak. "The girls worked real hard during the pre-season. We did graduate six to seven seniors however we have a good group of girls. Our middle school program has really been helping in feeding our high school program, and our returning players have really stepped up to the plate and have done pretty well this year."

Ephrata did take some graduation hits from last year’s 6-6 squad which advanced to the Sweet 16 of Districts. However, as Witmer stated, there are enough veterans returning to stabilize a squad that is both seasoned in some areas and inexperienced in others.

Witwer and fellow Julia Witmer are two of the top hitters in the section while Saylor is back for her senior season at setter. Those three are the top returnees for the Lady Mounts.

"Katie Witwer played for an elite team in the off-season and that has helped her tremendously," Coach Witmer said. "She’s just a good, solid all-around player with serving, hitting, passing and everything. And Julia is one of the dominant hitters. She goes up and attacks anything and everything. And Nicole Saylor is very quick and is a leader out there."

Other key contributors to the team include: junior Sara Engle, senior Shay Crossgrove, junior libero Yarger, Lehman and sophomore Brianne Balmer. Freshman Caroline Stauffer also played key minutes before injuring her ankle last week.

As far as expectations are concerned, Witmer is hopeful her team can make a return trip to the post-season.

"One of our goals is obviously to make it out of the section," she said. "We’d like to go to playoffs and do well, but I always tell the girls, ‘it’s not about the wins and losses,’ eventhough we’d like to see a lot of wins. It’s about what they give on the court. If they are playing well and we win, great. If we lose and we still play well that’s still good."

They are off to a good start.

Last Thursday, Ephrata won an exciting 3-2 decision over Solanco. In that one, after splitting the first four games, Ephrata clinched the win with a hard-fought 15-11 victory in Game Five.

Witwer had another big evening, leading the way with 17 kills and a block. Yarger had a whopping 51 digs while Saylor added 32 assists. Lehman also served up five aces for the winners.

Monday evening at home, Ephrata also scored a 3-0 non-league victory over Lancaster Mennonite. In the 25-14, 25-23, 25-17 win, Witwer had 10 kills and a pair of blocks while Yarger collected 14 digs and Saylor contributed five aces for the Lady Mounts.

While Ephrata was rolling, Cocalico suffered through an 0-3 week which included Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to Elizabethtown.

In the 25-14, 25-15, 25-19 setback, Katie Styer and Dana Shugarts each had four kills to pace the Lady Eagles. Sidney Evans served up a pair of aces for Cocalico while Kayla Young added two blocks and Brooke Beiler chipped in with 13 assists.

Monday in non-league action, Cocalico was edged out, 17-15 in Game Five to fall to Conestoga Valley by a 3-2 decision.

Shugarts and Gina Glass both had nine kills each for Cocalico. Young added four aces and Styer chipped in with four blocks. Beiler also tallied 38 assists and Evans had six digs for Cocalico.

The Lady Eagles also were in action last Thursday where they dropped a 3-0 decision to Garden Spot in a Section Two match. Jennifer Maxwell led Cocalico with four kills and four blocks. Young served up a pair of aces while Beiler (11 assists) and Evans (4 digs) also contributed for the Lady Eagles.

More VOLLEYBALL, page B-7

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