WEST NORRITON — Same opponent, different day.
In a repeat of the semifinal round last week between Upper Merion and West Chester Henderson, the Vikings and Warriors again faced off at Norristown Area High School.
And again, as the game had gone last week, WC Henderson stole the third set by a two-point margin to force a fourth set. But, the Vikings recovered and will move forward into the state tournament after defeating the Warriors 25-18, 25-7, 23-25, 25-17.
"I expected this match to be closer,' said Vikings coach Tony Funsten. "Usually when you're a good team and you lose ... I just expect you to come out and make adjustments.'
The first set was a competitive matchup between the two teams. While Henderson got out to an early 5-0 lead, Upper Merion score their first six points on their opponent's mistakes. But, as the Vikings got their offense rolling, the Warriors struggled to recover and run their offense.
A complete blowout in the second set seemed to put the Vikings in line for a clean sweep in the opening round. Up as many as 14 points, Eryn Brady and Melanie Ingram had tremendous success out of the middle and outside.
"I expected them to be more competitive since they know what we can do, and we could be more competitive since we know what they can do,' said outside hitter Emily Shannon who had nine kills and 28 digs.
But, the third set proved once more to be difficult for the Vikings to finish off the visiting Warriors. Up 8-2 early, the Warriors brought it back to 10-8; then the Vikings were again up 15-8, but the Warriors were able to overcome the late deficit and win 25-23.
"Coach Funsten always tells us that we need to keep on going and push ourselves,' said Vikings' libero Kailyn McNamee. "If you want to win it, you have to concentrate and focus.'
It was as if the Vikings' were taken out of the game mentally after the third game. Many of the points allowed to start the fourth were ones in which the Vikings had dug and blocked with ease while the going was good. It wasn't until the middle Brady got a back-to-back block and kill did the Vikings find their stride again.
"I think they were putting enough pressure on us that we were becoming hesitant,' Funsten said. "They were serving aggressively, their season was on the line and they were a little bit hungry at the end of the game.
"But, then again, all it takes is one play.'
Once the Vikings were over the hump, they outscored the Warriors 9-3 to finish the fourth set 25-17. With the win, the Vikings will play Southern Lehigh next Saturday in the second round of the state playoffs.