Mounts down Mifflin, advance to District semis

By on May 25, 2016
Ephrata’s senior libero Larry Rupp (left) completes the dig with teammates Spencer Linton (22), Nick Farlow and Alex Modrzecki (11) preparing for action during Monday’s 3-1 victory over Governor Mifflin. Photo by Mike Shull.

Ephrata’s senior libero Larry Rupp (left) completes the dig with teammates Spencer Linton (22), Nick Farlow and Alex Modrzecki (11) preparing for action during Monday’s 3-1 victory over Governor Mifflin. Photo by Mike Shull.

Also punch ticket to States for first time

In a season of firsts, the Ephrata Mounts qualified for the PIAA State Volleyball Tournament for the first time in program history on Monday night at Garden Spot High School. The Mounts, a first time Lancaster-Lebanon League section champion, eliminated Berks County champ Governor Mifflin 3-1 in the District Three Quarterfinals with set scores of 25-20, 25-18, 22-25 and 26-24.

The win sets up a District Three Semifinal rematch Wednesday, 6 p.m. at Dallastown with Penn Manor. The Comets (16-3) handed the Mounts (18-2) one of their two losses in last week’s L-L League Semifinals.

“This is the one we wanted,” announced an excited Mounts head coach Bob Witwer after the match. “States was one of the last things on our list. I’m just proud. This is a really good Mifflin team.”

The first two sets saw the Mounts play as effective and efficient volleyball as they have all year. Ephrata controlled the net mid-way through the first set, led by Section Two MVP Nick Farlow, who had eight of his game high 29 kills during the first two frames. Ephrata carried the momentum with streaks of eight of 10 in the first and second sessions.

The third set was a different story, as the Mustangs never trailed after tying the score early at 4-4.

“They started serving us a little tougher,” explained Witwer. “When they did, we still got the same passes and sets, but we were swinging the ball out.”

Mifflin was also supported by a raucous student section which seemed to have some effect on Ephrata’s concentration.

“Oh yeah, their fans travel well,” admitted Witwer. “That’s really great.”

The most desperate part of the match, from the Mounts’ point of view, came in set number four. The final score (26-24) was a true reflection of how close this match was, while the timing of each team’s time-outs showed how tenuous the lead was (nine ties and five lead changes by the 14-14 point).

At that point it looked like the Mustangs were going to ride the first real momentum into the fifth and final set. Scoring four-straight points (three on Ephrata errors), the Mounts were forced to regroup with a time-out down 17-14. Mifflin took the next point as well when Ephrata was too aggressive at the net.

But the Mounts roared back, scoring six of eight points to tie the set at 20, the last two after a Mifflin time-out. The rest of the match was all mini-runs, not the typical alternating because of side-out sets.

The Mustangs struck first, taking the Mounts to the brink at a 24-22 lead. Ephrata gathered on the sidelines for a final strategy session with no room for error.

“Every play you make at 24 really comes down to what you do at practice,” said Witwer. “You can’t really think about where you are in the game.”

His troops shut down their brains long enough to run off four-straight points, the first on a big swing by Farlow, the third on a block by fellow senior Spencer Linton. The Mustangs appeared to have a blocking wall set up on the fourth point, but Farlow finessed a tip to his left, ending the battle at 26-24 and on to the next round.

“Right now, it’s just survive and advance,” added Witwer. “We want to keep doing that. Hopefully, we get to redeem ourselves against Penn Manor. We’re playing well and I’d like to keep it going.”

Statistically, Ephrata had contributions from many players. Farlow led the power parade with his 29 kills and had support from senior Hunter Lehman (11 kills) while Linton and senior captain Alex Modrzecki with six each. Modrzecki set up the big swings with 38 assists.

The Mustangs were led by John Demeter with 12 kills and sophomore Ryan Lawes with 33 assists.

On the defensive side of the net, the Mounts got five blocks from Lehman while three led the way in keeping the ball off of the floor. Farlow had 28 digs while senior libero Larry Rupp produced 21 and sophomore Trey Farlow added 18.

Mifflin senior middle McClain Miller fronted the wall with five solo blocks while Demeter collected 16 digs.

The two winners of Wednesday’s semifinals (Hempfield and Red Lion play in the other semi) will square off for the District title Friday at Dallastown, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday’s loser’s will meet in the third-place consolation match Friday, 6 p.m. at Penn Manor.

The State Tournament opens next Wednesday, June 1.

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