November 09, 2018
By: Gwen Begley
Well its that time of year again, and its looking pretty similar to last year as both Parkland and Allentown Central Catholic are in the state tournament in their respective classes. With new rule changes set in place last year in class 4A, the runner-up Emmaus also advanced to the PIAA tournament but were defeated in three sets by Garnet Valley in the first round.
Lets start with class 3A where Central Catholic makes their fourth straight appearance on Pennsylvania’s biggest stage. The Vikettes had a rocky start to their 2018 season, dropping their first two matches to Parkland and eventual EPC champion Nazareth. After earning a 15 and six overall record, the Vikettes entered districts as the fourth seed and swept their way through. Their first victim was Bethlehem Catholic, and their second was the first-seeded Southern Lehigh Spartans. In the championship game, the Vikettes capped off their District run with a three nothing sweep of blue mountain, thus earning them a spot in the PIAA tournament, a place they have fared well over the years.
Their rise to the top of the state totem pole began in 2015, where they were defeated in the first-round by Villa Maria Academy in four sets. In 2016, volleyball expanded to four classes, in which Central was moved to the 3A class in which they would thrive. The girls fought their way through the bracket and found themselves at Richland High School competing for the title. It took four sets for the Vikettes to claim glory over Somerset, winning the State Championship for the first time since back to back championships in 2007 and 2008.
This year entering the state tournament as the first seed out of district XI, Central Catholic earned a date with the second seed out of District three, Palmyra. Palmyra was defeated by West York in their district final, and gave the Vikettes a fight in the first round at Catasauqua High School. The cougars got the best of Central in the second set, but luckily all the Vikettes needed was three. The win assured them a spot in the state quarterfinal, a round they swept their way through Garden Spot en route to the state final last season. This year their quarterfinal opponent is the first seed out of district on, Villa Maria Academy. Yes, the team that defeated the Vikettes in states in 2015.
Villa Maria Academy missed out on a state-run last season, but this year began with a sweep over Palumbo to earn a date with Central, one that should put the green and gold to the test. That matchup will be at Quakertown High School on Saturday at 2:30 pm.
Now on to 4A where we find Parkland, who is, well…Parkland. We all know they have had their fair share of success over the years, recently winning their fifth straight district XI title. That title came with a bit of vengefulness, as the Trojans were bested by Nazareth in the EPC championship. Parkland then did what Parkland does best, fix the problem, and execute. They ended handing Nazareth a broom sweeping their way through and onto the trophy with another sweep over Emmaus.
Now here’s another team that is no stranger to the state tournament or the state final. Entering their fifth straight state-run, they started that streak with back to back championships in 2014 and ’15. In 2016, the trojans fought their way through the bracket and into the final, but lost in five sets to Garnet Valley (the team that beat Emmaus in the first round this season). Last year was the first time in three years that Parkland had no made the trip to Richland High School for the title match, bowing out in the semifinal to Bishop Shanahan, a team that frequently see in tournaments throughout the season.
This year, Parkland is looking very good, perhaps good enough to return to the final, which will be significantly less far away this time. Their journey to making the trip to Cumberland Valley High School began with South Western where they came out victorious three sets to none. Now its onto the quarterfinal at Upper Dublin Highschool where the Trojans will meet the third seed out of district one Upper Merion. Upper Merion defeated Exeter Township three sets to one in their first round match.
Could Allentown Central Catholic and Parkland reunite and take the trip to the state championships together again? We shall wait and see.