The Parkland men’s volleyball team vividly remembers last year’s five-set loss in the Eastern Conference Finals to Pennsylvania.
Sure, the Trojans claimed the district title a few weeks later, but that loss to Emmaus remained fresh.
Parkland’s returning players have vowed to avenge that disappointment, which was evident early in Friday night’s EPC final with top-seeded Northampton.
Playing disciplined, well-placed volleyball, the Trojans took a straight-set lead and then held off a rally from Northampton to claim the title with a 3-1. [25-18, 25-17, 20-25, 25-21] victory at Allen High School‘s Sewards Gymnasium.
Chase Robbins underlined the evening of the Trojans. The junior had 21 eliminations and 20 assists, but it was his energy on the pitch that really boosted his team.
“It’s unbelievable. We’ve wanted it since we lost in 2021,” Robbins said. “The plan was to stay aggressive throughout. well played. Having such a big crowd and winning those medals is just a great moment.
The Trojans were never in real danger to open the game, as they were simply dominant. This comes as no surprise as the team is full of seasoned veterans who have featured in significant matchups in the past.
With Parkland enjoying an early two-set lead, the Konkrete Kids tried to find their bearings. Down 10-7 in the third, Northampton switched gears and, more importantly, got their big crowd involved.
Northampton tied until 17-all in the third, then hit a surge of energy to pull away and get into a set.
The K-Kids took a 14-11 lead in the fourth set and looked set to send the game into a fifth, but that’s when Parkland showed their mettle.
The Trojans led a 14-7 run to close out the game and claim the EPC crown.
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Matt Bauer (12 kills), Lukas Dashukewich (nine kills), Luke Smith (seven kills, four blocks), Azhar Sumar (16 digs) and Will Stiles (27 assists) have all been huge contributors for the Trojans.
“We have reduced our mistakes and increased our energy. It’s an incredible feeling and it’s hard to put into words,” Bauer said. “Personally, I like when it’s a big crowd; we had the same atmosphere when we played in Whitehall this season. It’s amazing when people you know come to support you.
With the title, the Trojans (17-4) earned the top seed and a bye to the first round of the District 11 Class 3A tournament, which begins next week.
“We’re definitely going to celebrate this title because we know what it’s like to lose this game,” Parkland coach Scott Trumbauer said. “We never put pressure on the kids to win these clashes; we don’t need it because they know the history of our program. We couldn’t be happier with this win.
Northampton’s defeat in the final is only their second of the season, both at the hands of the Trojans.
The second-seeded K-Kids in the districts put up several impressive performances on Friday. Leading are Jackson Fehnel (11 kills, nine digs), Alex Schoenen (nine kills, nine digs), Keller Repasch (36 assists, eight digs) and Johnny Martinez (seven kills, 12 digs).
Dante Terenzio is a freelance writer for The Morning Call.