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Palmyra falls short of MPC title

CHAMBERSBURG – There’s the common theory that every season, good or bad, is a long one.

Put yourself in the shoes of the Palmyra girls volleyball team battling through long road trip after long road trip and you’ll get the best understanding.

The latest long roadie took the Cougars to Chambersburg High School  on Saturday with hopes of becoming the first Mid-Penn Conference volleyball champion.

And it was another long day indeed filled with two grueling matches.

But just as its done all season, Palmyra battled and earned its way to the championship game after escaping with a 3-2 win (25-12, 25-17, 24-26, 21-25, 15-6) over Trinity in the semifinals,. In the title game, Palmyra fell  just short to undefeated State College 3-2 (25-23, 18-25, 20-25, 25-20, 13-15).

“I think fatigue did hurt us. A lot of people are trying to balance schooling, and trying to get as much rest as possible, and it seems like some of our really good players don’t get enough rest. I know it seems like I don’t get enough,” said Melanie Sheaffer, who had a productive day for Palmyra, including 16 kills, two assists, nine digs, and a block against State College.

“Far away games do tire us out, but we try to deal with that as much as possible.”

The other disadvantage the Cougars had to overcome was not really knowing a lot about State College, which coming in had never gone to a fifth set, and only went to a fourth set five times. And still Palmyra came just two points short of a major upset.

“I just sent my assistant coach to scout them during their first game and we got a lot of good insight. We didn’t know they were that good coming in,”  Palmyra coach Clark Sheaffer said. “You rely on your strengths. I knew we have some strong players who would step up.”

The Cougars definitely sent a message they were still going to be ready to play in taking the first set from the Little Lions. Then after dropping the next two sets, Palmyra came out with an impressive 8-3 run to start the fourth, eventually finding themselves up 19-12.

And with the fifth set tied at 13, it was a Cougars sailing kill attempt and Little Lions block that set Palmyra’s heartbreaking fate.

In the semis it looked as though Palmyra was going to sweep its way to the championship game, after cruising in the first two sets against Trinity.

The Shamrocks however, took advantage of the Cougars taking their foot off the gas, all of a sudden finding themselves a win away from moving on.

“I did change the lineup to allow other players some time in the third set. It’s one of those things where I felt we were okay. It was tight, but I didn’t think we would lose the game,” Sheaffer said. “We went back to our original lineup in the fourth set but Trinity had the momentum and we weren’t doing what we needed to do physically. But our setter was setting well, so I told her to feed who was hot. Then I challenged my seniors to step up, and the girls were able to get it together in the fifth set.”

Despite a tough ending, Sheaffer does see a huge positive moving into districts.

“We actually got our swagger back (in the State College game). We played at a higher level than we have this whole week. Now we have a week to give them some time off and recharge the batteries.”