Girls volleyball heads back to districts
Mariana Valencia and the rest of her Northwestern girls' volleyball team went into Monday's match with Jim Thorpe not really knowing how important thematch really was.
With two matches left on their regular season schedule, including one against Colonial League front-runner Southern Lehigh, the Tigers didn't realize they needed to win one of the two to qualify for the District 11 Class AA Girls' Volleyball Tournament until they were made aware of the matter.
"We didn't know we needed this one until our coach told us before the game," Valencia said. "As soon as she told us that, we definitely fought our hardest out there on the court. We wanted it more than ever."
Jim Thorpe was in the same situation, needing one win for a district berth..
After the Tigers took a hard-fought first game, and the Olympians rebounded to escape with the second game, it was Northwestern that won the next two games to pull away with a 25-22, 16-25, 25-15, 25-14 victory over Jim Thorpe on its own home floor.
After watching her Tigers let the second game clearly slip out of their grasp, first-year head coach Amilee Schillinger, who was an assistant coach in last year's inaugural girls volleyball season at Northwestern, is pleased to guide the team to a second straight district playoff berth.
"I have been saying all season that it takes a team to play and they all stepped up as a team," said Schillinger, a Northwestern High School graduate who played volleyball at East Stroudsburg University. "They had their ups and downs in this match, but they came together as a team and won that game. They did what they had to do."
Jim Thorpe tied the third game at 9-9 and had the fourth game at 5-5, before the visiting Tigers took the lead for good in each game.
In the fourth game, Valencia went scored four aces and teammate Makayla Clymer added another to spark the Tigers to victory and ruin the chances for head coach Erin Kuhn's Olympians squad.
"We went flat," said Jim Thorpe head coach Erin Kuhn. "They just couldn't get it together. I really don't know what happened. I mean I told them before it's their confidence. We have had a problem with it all season."
Northwestern lost to Southern Lehigh Tuesday and will have a couple weeks off before the district tournament begins. The Tigers are eighth in the district rankings and will likely face one of the top two seeds in the first round.