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IMG_1659BY JEFF FALK

MECHANICSBURG – Here’s what distinguishes Palmyra’s overall athletic program from every other one in Lebanon County. The Cougars have excelled and made greater strides more quickly in less established, less publicized sports like girls’ volleyball, boys’ lacrosse and boys’ volleyball, while maintaining the highest degree of integrity in more traditional and main stream scholastic sports.

That’s a tribute to the hard work of the Cougars’ student-athletes, the organizational skills and commitment of the programs’ coaches and the level of athletic participation at Palmyra.

IMG_1598On Tuesday night at Cumberland Valley High School, the fledgling Palmyra boys’ volleyball team concluded its spring season – on this fifth day of June – in the semifinals of the PIAA Class AA postseason, with a 3-0 setback to mighty Northeastern. The Bobcats defeated the Cougars, 25-22, 25-11 and 25-18.

That loss in the opening game of the set really took a lot of steam out of the Cougars. In the remaining two games, Palmyra never led.

The result ended Palmyra’s surprising campaign at 17-5. In their fourth season of competition, Palmyra finished third in the District Three Class AA playoffs and did not drop a game in two previous state victories.

It represented the best boys’ volleyball season in the history of Lebanon County history.

IMG_1416Northeastern, the reigning District Three champions, improved to 20-0 and advanced to Saturday’s state championship game at Penn State’s Recreation Building.

“It’s been a nice ride,” said Palmyra head coach Clark Sheaffer, who serves in the same capacity for the Cougars’ girls’ team in the fall. “It’s been a good experience for our seniors. We finally gained some respect. Our players all improved. Some players improved just by being around better players. But they improved together, as a team.

“It’s a close group of players,” continued Sheaffer. “They get along. They’re unified as a team.”

The first game was the most competitive of the entire semifinal set.

With Cougar senior Ryan Betz serving, Palmyra established a modest 4-2 edge, one that it later extended to 9-5. But Northeastern pieced together an 8-1 run that gave the Bobcats a 13-10 lead.

Palmyra pulled even at 13-all, 15-all and again at 16-all, before the Bobcats ripped off four unanswered points to establish an advantage they would not relinquish.

“We came out and smacked them in the face to see if they would back off,” said Sheaffer of the Bobcats. “We were there. We were one or two points off.

“We were in shambles in the second game,” Sheaffer continued. “They (his players) were totally deflated. It looked like we were in the game, but the errors piled up.”

The Cougars were paced by junior Tyler Sheaffer, who piled up eight kills, six digs and two blocks, and Joey McInerney, who posted seven kills and six digs.  Senior Collin Nissley contributed six kills and six digs to the Palmyra cause, while freshman setter Christian Sheaffer collected 21 assists and seven digs.

“They’re a better skilled team,” said Sheaffer of the Bobcats. “They’re really well-coached. There’s no doubt we have some talent. It’s the little things, and the little things add up. We’re not at the point that Northeastern is at. The only disappointment is we’re losing some strong seniors. They’ll be tough to replace.

IMG_1606“The program is young,” Sheaffer added. “I’m still trying to establish it.”

Northeaastern netted six of the second set’s first seven points to gain early control of it. The closest the Cougars would come would be 9-6, before the Bobcats hit them with a crippling 11-3 spurt to open a 20-9 advantage.

“We’re not quite there,” said Sheaffer. “We have a high-powered offense and we’re good at serving. But overall we have some areas where we need to improve.

“We never had a crowd like that before,” added Sheaffer. “It was a real good experience for our seniors. I’m not sure our underclassmen can bring us back to this point. We had real good support here from Palmyra.”

Despite being urged on by their raucous following, the Cougars couldn’t muster the energy required for an epic comeback from their 2-0 deficit in games.

IMG_1513The third set was a similar tale, as Northeastern raced out to an early 5-1 lead, and a later 11-4 bulge. Palmyra never came closer than four points the rest of the way.

“It was like (Mike) Tyson and Buster Douglas,” said Sheaffer, referencing one of the greatest upsets in boxing history. “Everybody wants a shot at the champ. We came in calm. We came in confident. Then when we didn’t win that first game, we became deflated.

“It is what it is,” continued Sheaffer. “The errors piled up on us, and Northeastern wasn’t making them. As you progress in this game, the errors can be reduced. When you’re not playing a high-quality opponent, it’s not as obvious.”

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1585To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to see more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 

 

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2018 Palmyra Boys’ Volleyball Results

DATE OPPONENT TIME OUTCOMES
03/24
@Hempfield
8:00 AM
03/26
CD East
6:45 PM W 3-2
03/27 *
@Northern York
7:00 PM W 3-0
03/29
@York Suburban
7:00 PM W 3-1
04/03 *
Hershey
6:45 PM W 3-1
04/05 *
Cedar Cliff
6:45 PM W 3-0
04/10 *
Red Land
7:00 PM W 3-0
04/12 *
@Lower Dauphin
5:00 PM L 2-3
04/14
@Warwick
2:00 PM
04/17 *
Mechanicsburg
6:45 PM L 2-3
04/19 *
Northern York
7:00 PM W 3-0
04/26 *
@Hershey
6:30 PM W 3-1
04/30
@Cedar Crest
7:00 PM W 3-0
05/01 *
@Cedar Cliff
7:00 PM W 3-0
05/03 *
@Red Land
6:30 PM W 3-0
05/07
Carlisle
6:30 PM W 3-1
05/08 *
Lower Dauphin
6:45 PM L 1-3
05/09 *
@Mechanicsburg
6:00 PM W 3-2
05/21 #
@Berks Catholic
6:00 PM W 3-0
05/23 #
@Manheim Central
6:00 PM L 1-3
05/29 #
Archbishop Wood
3:00 PM W 3-0
06/02 #
Holy Redeemer
1:00 PM W 3-0
06/05 #
Northeastern

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