Photo by James Parrish
Hershey, 2013 SPVA champions. Front row, from left: Maddie Seamann, Bobbi Brannan, Tessa Otzel, Maegan Hiatt, Brooke Munsen and Taylor Mustion. Back row: Treyann Miller, Ryce Troyer, Jayde Olson, Britni Brannan, Makayla Hiller, Shawnie Swedberg and Hannah Johnson.
The Hershey volleyball team didn't have a lot left in the tank Saturday, just enough to win its first South Platte Valley Association tournament title since 2005.
The Lady Panthers advanced their season record to 20-3 and swept St. Pat's in three sets, 25-19, 25-20, 25-21 in the finals at the McGahan Activities Center.
"Coming (into the season), it was a goal and our kids were on a mission," Hershey coach Amy Beyer said. "They felt that they could win it this year. I am proud of our kids."
In the semifinals on Saturday, the top two seeds, St. Pat's and Hershey held serve. No. 1-seed St. Pat's defeated Maxwell in straight sets, 25-19, 25-18, 25-20, and Hershey downed Imperial 25-20, 25-18, and 26-24 to set up the title game between the rivals.
The first set of the championship match had nine lead changes. But the Panthers (20-3) took a 21-17 lead when St. Pat's (14-9) committed a net violation after Maegan Hiatt scored two straight points with an ace and a kill.
That was enough of a cushion for Hershey to take the first set.
In the second set, Hershey broke away on a five-point run served by Maddie Seamann to take an 18-12 lead.
The Irish rallied back immediately. A kill by Bree Saner ended Seamann's rally and also led to a four-point run by Brittany Lawrence. The 6-foot-3 Creighton recruit brought St. Pat's to within 18-17 when she served her second straight ace.
Beyer called timeout and the delay threw Lawrence's rhythm off, as she served the ball long on the ensuing play.
The Lady Panthers then scored two more to go up 21-18 and the Irish never came as close.
The third set was almost an exact copy of the first two. Hershey again got a nie little lead at 18-15 lead after consecutive kills by Tessa Otzel.
St. Pat's came within a point of the Panthers twice, at 19-18 and 20-19. But a hitting error by Lawrence gave Hershey a 21-19 lead. Hershey then scored two more to get on the doorstep before finishing the Lady Irish.
Seamann said the Lady Panthers served well and that's what helped them overcome their fatigue and win the three sets down the stretch.
"Our serving really helped," the senior middle blocker said. "It always helps us win tight matches like this."
St. Pat's coach Shelly Byrn said her team didn't play the way they needed to against Hershey.
"We missed too many serves and our passing wasn't up to par," she said. "Those two things really hurt us today."
For Beyer and the Panthers, it wasn't pretty, but the SPVA title was sweet enough.
"Honestly, we struggled to get runs and I thought we played much better against (Imperial)," Beyer said. "But the kids played hard and they deserve this."
In the consolation match, Chase County defeated Maxwell, 3-1. The scores were 25-15, 12-25, 25-17 and 25-18.