West Shamokin volleyball stops Bentworth
West Shamokin girls volleyball coach Justin Nolder, normally stoic on the sideline, raised his voice loud enough for people in the stands to hear after his Wolves lost the second game of their match against Bentworth on Thursday night at Freeport High School.
“I said a few things I probably shouldn't have said, but it was to get them more fired up so they'd go out there ready to play more aggressive,” Nolder said.
His message registered with the fourth-seeded Wolves, who took the next two games to prevail, 3-1, in the WPIAL Class A first-round match. West Shamokin won the final two games, 25-16 and 25-13, after dropping Game 2, 25-16.
“It feels good to walk out of here in high spirits and know that our season isn't over,” said Nolder, whose team will meet No. 5 Shenango in the quarterfinals Tuesday. “One thing is certain: We have to play a lot better and more competitively with the teams that are still standing.”
When the Wolves (10-3) thrived, they went on runs. In Game 1, a 25-19 win, West Shamokin had two five-point streaks and a four-point rush. In Game 3, it had a five-point run and two four-pointers. And it won five in a row and then claimed the final 13 to end Game 4 and the match.
Bentworth (11-5) scored more than three straight points only twice: It tallied six in a row during a desperate rally in Game 3, and it won five consecutive in Game 4 to erase a 7-2 deficit.
The Bearcats had four three-point streaks in Game 2. Coach Alyssa Dye attributed some of the streaky play to her lineup's youth. The Bearcats' roster included just two seniors.
“(Karli Kubincanek and Hunter Weber) have been great leaders all year, so I didn't expect us to come in inexperienced. But we are, and it showed at times,” Dye said. “Sometimes one mistake turns into three, four or five when they're that young.”
Nolder considered West Shamokin equally error-prone, particularly during Game 2, when the Wolves had 11 unforced errors and struggled with serve reception as Bentworth earned five aces.
“We got served off the court in the second game, which is not a normal thing because I consider us a fairly strong defensive team, a good passing team,” Nolder said.
Aggressive serving contributed to several of West Shamokin's dominant stretches. Six of the Wolves' runs of four-plus points included at least one ace. West Shamokin finished with 15 aces.
Senior Jill Glover, the owner of a wicked diving jump serve, finished with nine aces. Junior Kristen Templeton relied on an accurate float serve to deliver five aces, four of which came during the match-closing run.
“I was just aiming for where they weren't,” Templeton said. “We get excited (during the runs), but we definitely have to keep calm. Sometimes, we get too excited.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1303.