Sunday, February 18, 2018
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Ephrata Avenges Loss

When Ephrata roared out to an 11-1 lead Monday night in its Section Two match against Manheim Central, you had a good idea that avenging their earlier loss to the Barons was foremost in their minds.

The Mounts won the first two sets (25-14, 25-13), dropped the third (21-25) then regained the form that led them to the first two set wins, winning the fourth set, 25-18 and the match, 3-1.

Nick Farlow led the Mounts (6-5 league, 9-7 overall) with 26 kills and Hunter Lehman added 11 to pace the Ephrata effort.

The Mounts' win creates a tie for third place in Section Two, which affects the matchups for Friday's first round of the L-L playoffs. If Ephrata and Manheim Central (6-5, 7-8) both win Wednesday's regular-season finales -- Central hosts Garden Spot and Ephrata is at Elizabethtown -- both would finish with 7-5 league records.

The first criteria is head to head and since the two teams split, the second criteria is District Three power rankings. The rankings, calculated Thursday morning, will be used, even though Ephrata is a Class AAA school and Manheim Central is a Class AA school.

Prior to matches played Monday, Manheim Central's power rating was 0.503565, Ephrata's 0.497105.

Setting Farlow, the powerful junior hitter, is always a smart option for Ephrata. But this match was different than their last with Manheim Central in that the Mounts played better defense and made fewer errors.

"We've really made a turnaround in that the players know that they need to be held accountable for things, like serving the ball on the court," said Ephrata coach Bob Witwer. "We couldn't overcome those things earlier in the season."

The Barons got 10 kills from Taylor Funk and while they picked up their block as the match went on, Farlow still managed to get some balls through and around those blocks.

"Credit Ephrata," said Manheim Central coach Craig Dietrich. "They played with a lot of purpose and intensity. "They were diving for every loose ball. They were in every corner of the gym tonight."

One wondered whether Manheim Central sowed the seeds of doubt in Ephrata's minds when the Barons won the third set. But the Mounts broke to a 17-12 lead in the fourth set with a 6-0 run, highlighted by a Farlow kill and a Scott Waller block.

"I pulled the players together after the third set and said, listen, we're not holding back, here," Witwer said. "I told them that we had to go after them right away. We had to come out and swing and I didn't care if the balls went off the back wall. We couldn't play to not lose."

Around the L-L League

The eight-team field for the L-L League playoffs, which gets under way Friday with the first round, has been decided but some of the seeding is still undetermined.

Hempfield wrapped up third straight Section One title and eighth in the last nine seasons with a 3-0 (25-11, 25-21, 25-20) win over Warwick Monday night. The victory makes the Black Knights (11-0) the host for one of Friday's two league playoff first-round doubleheaders. Hempfield will play the fourth-place team from Section Two, Manheim Central or Ephrata, but that won't be determined until after Wednesday's matches.

Cocalico set up its Wednesday showdown with Lancaster Mennonite for the Section Two title with 3-0 (25-17, 25-12, 25-9) win over Elizabethtown while the Blazers were idle. The Eagles (11-0), which won the first meeting between the two teams 3-0, dealt the Blazers (10-1) their only league loss.

Should the Blazers win Wednesday, a special playoff for the section title will be held at 7 p,m. Thursday at Garden Spot. The Section Two title winner will host the other playoff first-round doubleheader Friday.

By beating Manheim Township 3-0, Penn Manor grabbed the second seed from Section One. The Comets will play either Manheim Central or Ephrata in the first round of the playoffs.