2022 Wilson at Elizabethtown D3 Girls Volleyball Quarterfinal

Liz Kerin of Elizabethtown digs one out against Wilson during District 3 class 4A girls volleyball quarterfinal action at Elizabethtown High School’s Daubert Gym in Elizabethtown on Thursday, October 27, 2022.

The Elizabethtown girls volleyball team was defeated by visiting Wilson 3-1 in a District Three Class 4A quarterfinal match Thursday night.

The loss ends what was another successful season for Elizabethtown, which followed an historic 2021 campaign with another Lancaster-Lebanon League runner-up finish and a Section Two co-championship in 2022.

But a return trip to the District Three semifinals and a second consecutive berth in the PIAA state tournament fell just out of reach for the third-seeded Bears (17-3).

At fault were the sixth-seeded Bulldogs (18-3), champions of Berks County and loaded with all-state talent across their front row.

Elizabethtown won the first game 25-22 with both teams going point-for-point on crushing spikes to the court.

“I think that first game everyone was hungry,” first-year Elizabethtown coach Katrina Shelly said. “Both sides were just banging balls and they were also defending, so it was a true game of side-out volleyball.”

The teams indeed sided-out in the early going before the Bulldogs pulled ahead 19-14. But the Bears rallied behind senior middle Liz Kerin, who had seven of her team-high 11 kills in the opening frame.

A kill by Bella Lutter started the rally. Kerin then recorded a block, and won a joust over the net to get within a point.

Wilson junior Kassidy Means responded with one of her match-high 17 kills, but Kerin finished off two more points for a 21-20 lead. Kills by Lutter and Jacqueline Raybold extended Elizabethtown’s lead.

On game point, Bears defender Paige O’Connell dug a ball off the floor to keep the rally alive, and a hitting error from the Bulldogs gave Elizabethtown the set.

“You have two really good teams,” said Wilson head coach Dennis Werner, no stranger to Elizabethtown’s Daubert Gymnasium from his time coaching at Garden Spot. “We were both in states last year. They’re the runner-up in their league, we’re the champion in our league. Not surprising, that level of volleyball you saw in the first set.”

Wilson was able to regroup in games two through four, winning 25-13, 25-19 and 25-17. The Bulldogs re-emphasized their serving game in order to slow down Elizabethtown’s attack, and in particular to keep the ball away from Kerin in the middle.

“We talked about having to serve tough if we’re going to be successful,” Werner said. “We took her away partially because they couldn’t get her the ball as much. And, we got a little better at identifying where she is and being ready to set up the block, which is also a part of it.”

“She went on a run there first game and I think they picked up on that,” Shelly said of Kerin. “Unfortunately, their biggest blockers were in the middle and I think that was their focus.”

As a result, Elizabethtown got strong performances from its outside and weakside hitters, in particular Lutter (10 kills), Raybold (nine kills, 10 digs) and Chloe Merkt (eight kills, 15 digs).

Bears junior setter Hailey Oller recorded 39 assists over the course of the match, including the 1,000th of her career. O’Connell had 11 digs for Elizabethtown, which also got 19 digs from senior libero Paige Horst.

Wilson’s junior setter, Cameryn Niedrowski, finished with 54 assists. Airyanna Kline added 16 kills and Bintou Sissoho added 15 kills for the Bulldogs, who will face No. 2 Central York on Tuesday.

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