Penn Manor derails Mounts’ finals quest

By on May 18, 2016
Ephrata’s R.J. Crossgrove (left to right), Trey Farlow and Hunter Lehman go up for the block attempt on Warwick’s Bailey Garman during Friday’s L-L Quarterfinals match in Ephrata. Photo by Dick Wanner

Ephrata’s R.J. Crossgrove (left to right), Trey Farlow and Hunter Lehman go up for the block attempt on Warwick’s Bailey Garman during Friday’s L-L Quarterfinals match in Ephrata. Photo by Dick Wanner

The top three teams in the PIAA District Three Boys’ volleyball power rankings were on the court Monday night in the Lancaster-Lebanon League semifinals at Garden Spot High School.

Unfortunately for third-ranked Ephrata, the opponent was number two Penn Manor.

In the early match, top-ranked Hempfield blanked Manheim Township 3-0. The nightcap saw the Comets (15-2) outlast the Mounts (17-2) in a 3-1 match with set scores of 25-21, 25-23, 25-27 and 25-14. The results set up an all-Section One L-L final Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Manheim Township High School.

“This is a really good Penn Manor team that we played,” said Ephrata head coach Bob Witwer. “We had a couple of mental lapses early that hurt us in the first and second sets. They were so close that sometimes you can’t come back from that.”

The Mounts led early in the first set (5-2) only to see the Comets score four out of five to even the score at six. That was the first of seven ties in the first set, with the last coming at 20-all. Manor took advantage of some loose plays by Ephrata to grab five of the next six points to close out the pivotal first set.

“I thought we played pretty good tonight,” added Witwer. “In the end, it comes down to making plays, and we just didn’t make enough. This is a pretty stout team (Penn Manor). They have a lot of options.”

The second set saw the Comets lead early with Witwer calling timeouts when behind at both 4-8 and later 10-16. The Mounts rallied with runs of three and four before knotting the score at 18-all. This led to four additional ties, the last at 23, before a Sam Greenslade kill and a Cory Cummings block put an end to the drama.

At that point, Manor led two sets to none.

“Sam’s (Greenslade) jump serve was good,” noted Witwer. “I wish it wouldn’t have gotten us off our game plan as much as it did. We had Alex (Modrzecki, Ephrata’s setter) running around a little more than we wanted to. You can’t run your offense like you want when that happens.”

The third set was a perfect example of how a very small thing can affect the outcome. After three early ties, the Comets led by as many as six before the Mounts clawed back to knot the score at 15-15. With Penn Manor leading 24-22 and on the verge of a sweep, an “out” call on a Nick Farlow kill seemed to end the match. However, the officials got together, reversing the point, paving the way for Ephrata to complete the comeback, securing the set at 27-25.

“(Greenslade) puts a big block up, which doesn’t help the offense,” described Farlow, when asked about his 6-6 opponent. “We also had trouble with (setter) Kemrer,” who seemed to find holes in the Mounts defense all night. “He saw mismatches a lot and he’s quick with his decisions.”

Ephrata was led offensively by Farlow (27 kills, 1 ace), fellow senior co-captain Hunter Lehman (six kills, ace) and Modrzecki (28 assists). The Comets’ Greenslade found the floor for 19 kills as he and his mates were set up by Kemrer’s 38 helpers.

Defensively, the Mounts team effort on digs was also led by Farlow (12) as well as Trey Farlow (8) Moua Vang (7) and Larry Rupp (6). Nick Farlow’s six blocks was another indication of the many contributions he makes to this club. Manor was led by Alex Krahulik’s three blocks, Daniel Fry’s four aces and Josh Hess’ five digs.

If the District Three tournament runs true to form, these two teams will be matched up again in the semifinals. Both squads received opening round byes.

The Mounts will play next Monday, May 23 against the winner of the Manheim Township and Governor Mifflin match. That winner will likely face the Comets.

“We know some of the guys from Mifflin and Township from club teams,” added Witwer. “We also can’t wait to play Penn Manor again. This is nice, having a bye in Districts.”

Earlier Monday, the Lancaster-Lebanon League volleyball coaches announced the all-stars for the 2015-16 season, recognizing five Mounts and three Cocalico Eagles. Modrzecki was honored for the fourth time, the last two years as a first team member. Nick Farlow was named to the first team for the third straight year, while Lehman also received a first team nod. Senior Spencer Linton and sophomore Trey Farlow received second team recognition.

Eagle senior Nick Baxter was honored on the first team, while juniors Deep Bhavani and Isaac Carpenter received a place on the second team.

Section MVPs will be announced at the conclusion of this evening’s L-L Championship match. Farlow and Modrzecki are finalists under consideration in Section Two.

The Mounts advanced to their first semifinal in 10 years following a 3-0 victory over Warwick in the L-L Quarterfinals Friday in Ephrata.

Nick Farlow collected a match-high 13 kills and five aces to key the 25-17, 25-16, 25-12 victory over the Warriors.

Lehman added eight kills on the night while Modrzecki (21 assists) and Trey Farlow (three blocks, three digs) also chipped in for the Mounts.

Warwick was led by Austin Braas, who finished with eight kills and a block. Adam Black added a pair of aces to go along with seven digs and 15 assists for the Warriors (6-8).

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