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Palmyra grinds out 3-2 win over Hershey

PALMYRA – They know they didn’t play their best game. But one thing the Palmyra Cougars girls volleyball team does know is they can overcome any sets of adversity thrown at them during the course of a game. And that first test was a tough one, facing their rival in their home opener.

Despite blowing a huge lead to lose the first set, losing a long 30-second plus rally, and making multiple mental and physical errors to lose a potential clinching set, none of the above phased Palmyra as they scratched and clawed their way to a 3-2 win over Hershey Thursday.

That big lead in the first set was a 9-0 one – which was quickly erased by the Trojans (1-1, 1-1) thanks to a 6-0 run. But the Cougars (2-0, 1-0) maintained their lead until finally breaking, as Hershey knotted it at 22 before going on to win 25-23.

But the Cougars seemed to shake it off quickly, after bouncing back to win back-to-back sets in rather convincing fashion, 25-16 and 25-14, respectively – which included overcoming being on the wrong end of a rally lasting over 30 seconds early in the third set.

The momentum for Palmyra however, was derailed by countless communication and other physical errors.

“We missed more serves than I ever saw before, so it was amazing to see them pull it out. I was waiting for them to turn it around and turn it around, but then it was error after error. We even jumped on them early because of serving,” Palmyra coach Clark Sheaffer said. “A lot has to do with the pressure of playing at home. It should be a positive, but sometimes I think for my younger players it’s more difficult.”

But finally in the fifth set, the Cougars were able to create two match-defining plays – the first coming from Memphis Martin, who had a block and kill in back-to-back fashion to make it 11-9 Palmyra.

Then the biggest kill of them all came from Maggie Black, giving the Cougars a 12-10 lead and helping them to close it out.

“I think it was real important to get that in. It really brought our team up and pushed us to the end,” Black said. “We really came together as a team, gave it all we had, and kept our energy up at the end.”

And coming together as a team was a big reason why the Cougars were able to grind out a big win early in the season – because of how close this team is to each other.

“This team likes each other more than any other team I’ve ever had. So I think they’ll work to be the best team they can be,” Sheaffer said.

Besides that, Sheaffer also sees this game as a confidence boost by the way his team pulled out an important victory despite a sub-par performance.

“It was an uncharacteristic game tonight. They just weren’t on, but they were able to pull out a way,” Sheaffer said. “It should help their confidence, so I think that is a positive. We weren’t crisp and we were fortunate to come out with a win.”