Gettysburg High volleyball coach Travis Meckley is thrust into a situation most high school teachers across the country would long for.
Meckley has inherited a group of demure teenagers who don't chat much amongst each other.
"When we communicate with each other and talk on the court, we're a pretty difficult team to beat," said Meckley, whose Warriors weathered a gigantic storm to top New Oxford, 25-23, in the semifinals before falling to Shippensburg during the annual Gettysburg Volleyball Tournament on Saturday at Gettysburg.
"During games that we don't talk, we'll that's a different story," he said.
Gettysburg communicated effectively Saturday, though it was Shippensburg that became the talk of the local volleyball landscape. The Greyhounds met Gettysburg (both No. 1 seeds following pool play) in the championship and gutted out a tight, down-to-the-wire series of three games. They won 25-20, lost 25-23, and then closed the deal with a 15-13 championship victory.
"I think my girls have always been pretty good offensively," Greyhounds head coach Bonnie Hand said. "Our defense kind of lacked in that second game there. Gettysburg is a really good team and we knew they were going to bring it. They've always been one of our tough competitors.We were able to take it offensively to them. I think that's where we really shined."
In a pulsating championship match, Gettysburg looked to play the role of spoiler. The Warriors reeled off an 8-2 spurt after Shippensburg senior Aunjel VanBrakle posted back-to-back dazzling plays. Shippensburg quelled the comeback bid, but the Warriors took that resolve into the second game. Gettysburg erased a four-point deficit en route to a 25-22 win.
The Warriors seemed hell-bent on avenging a sweep by Shippensburg from earlier in the season. They made up for their deficiency in height with clutch plays and hustle. They solved the chemistry experiment that concerned Meckley earlier in the day.
"Getting them talking is the big thing," Meckley said. "Weathering runs have been a huge for us. We know we're going to get our (runs). We've just got to make sure we stop the others."
"They were definitely looking for a good game," said Hand, who heaped praise on her tall middle players. "We just couldn't seem to find the Gettysburg hitters for some reason, tonight. Their hitting is really on tap."
Shippensburg played possessed during a monumental win over Greencastle-Antrim, which took its first Mid-Penn division loss since 2004, on Thursday. The team has learned to embrace the big-game beast within it, rising to the occasion.
When Shippensburg arrived at the familiar entry of Gettysburg High School around 8 a.m., Hand was in no mood for motivational maxims or dramatic speeches.
She delivered a simple message: "Win."
Gettysburg's poise at the net, serving and ability to keep the ball alive during hustle plays helped the youth-laden core mow down teams during pool play.
In the championship series, Gettysburg was fueled by relative balance in the scoresheet. Emma Flickinger posted a team-best 35 digs. Laura Plank had 26 digs and six kills. Maddie Weikert paced the Warriors with seven kills and two aces. Camryn Smith added 17 digs.
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