Friday, November 5th, 2010
By Ryan Hines
Parkway one win away from state
Division III Volleyball Regional at Liberty-Benton
  FINDLAY - The Parkway volleyball team is peaking at the right time.
After a fifth-place finish in the Midwest Athletic Conference, Parkway is one win away from a berth in the state final four after a 25-15, 28-26, 25-18 and 25-14 win over Kansas Lakota on Thursday night in Division III regional semifinal action from Liberty-Benton High School.
Panthers head coach Jeff Marbaugh is quick to point out that the rigorous regular-season schedule has helped his team throughout the tournament trail.
"We play in a very good league that tests you each game you play. We play good teams out of league too, so when we get to the postseason, we feel that we have been prepared for what we will see in the tournament," said Parkway head coach Jeff Marbaugh.
Parkway (21-5) now meets Huron (21-5) on Saturday at 2 p.m. for the regional championship. The Panthers are looking for a state berth for the first time since 2005.
"We've worked so hard to get to this point and it feels great to be where we are," said Parkway junior outside-hitter Haley Burtch. "We are right where we want to be with an opportunity to get to state."
Lakota entered the regional semifinal riding an 18-game winning streak, but Parkway showed from the start that the Raiders were going to be hard-pressed to make it 19 straight wins.
Parkway's Emily Crowell stepped behind the service line to get the match started and the senior lefthander helped the Panthers to a 9-0 start. Kelsey Bates had a trio of kills while the duo of Becca Harshman and Haley Roehm each had a kill to highlight the early run.
"Coach was giving us a zone to serve into and then we got good play at the net during that run too. It was a great start to the match," said Crowell, who had 15 kills, five aces and 16 digs in the match for the Panthers.
Lakota whittled the Parkway lead down to five points at 20-15, but Harshman served out the rest of the first game while a Bates stuff block put an exclamation point on the 25-15 Panthers win.
"We wanted to get out to a good start and I think that we were able to send a message right at the beginning," said Marbaugh.
Game two was a back-and-forth affair from the start as the lead changed hands on six occasions. Lakota went up early 5-2, but the spiking of Burtch, Bates and Crowell helped Parkway grab a 17-12 advantage. Parkway then struggled on serve receive and Lakota's Jessica Hoffman and Amy Gosche made the Panthers pay as the Raiders fought back to a 21-21 tie. A pair of Parkway hitting errors gave Lakota a 23-21 lead, before a Bailey King kill made it 23-22.
Each team then committed an unforced error and Lakota was sitting with a 24-23 lead before Crowell had a kill and a stuff block to put Parkway back on top 25-24. The two teams traded points again before a Hoffman kill knotted the game at 26-26. Kylie Podach then stuffed a Kelsey Bates spike and Gosche hammered home a kill in the back row of the Parkway defense to give the Raiders a 28-26 win in game two.
That was the lone bright spot on the night for Lakota as Parkway won the final two games with ease.
The serving of Crowell and Roehm helped Parkway start out 7-1 in game three as the Panthers began to hurt Lakota with a balanced attack. Roehm had a block and Crowell had an ace while Bates had four kills in the strong start to game three by the Panthers.
When the Lakota defense began to focus on containing Bates, who had a match-high 22 kills, that's when Crowell, Burtch, Harshman and King picked up their play.
"I think that when we get our passing right, we are tough to defend, because we have a lot of weapons in the middle and on the outside," said Parkway part-time setter Morgan Cron.
"We want to get the ball in the middle and then when the defense begins to dig some of the hits from the middle, we like to push the ball to the outside," said Marbaugh. "If we can control the ball and get it to the setter, we have a lot of options that can put the ball away."
Parkway's balance prevented Lakota from getting any closer than five points the rest of game three as the Panthers cruised to a 25-18 win.
The Panthers once again got off to a good start in game four as Bates and Crowell carried Parkway to a 7-3 advantage. Lakota fought back and tied the game four different times until Parkway made its move with the game knotted at 10-10.
Cron had four straight service winners for Parkway and then Crowell had three kills to go along with a pair of aces to push the Panthers to a 20-12 advantage. Lakota got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
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