LEHMAN TWP. – Twice, Dallas found itself in a hole late in sets.
Twice, the Mountaineers looked to Jared Thompson in big-time spots. And the junior made both of the pressure-packed swings count.
Thompson took a nice set from senior Steve Darling and slammed home a cross-court spike to end the second set, and finished the match in the third off another pretty Darling feed. And for Dallas, the 3-0 victory over rival Lake-Lehman Monday keeps the District 2 Class 2A playoff hopes alive in the Back Mountain.
Set scores were 25-16, 28-26 and 25-23.
Dallas improves to 3-3, and has now won two straight heading into matches with Tunkhannock and Hazleton Area.
“These games are all must-win for us,” Dallas head coach Nick Diaco said. “You hate to look ahead, but if we don’t win some of these games, our playoff hopes are shot.”
At times, it was spirited. Twice, the officials needed to meet with captains to settle down the emotions.
The Lehman student section cheered. The Dallas bench responded back.
Yet, all the emotion in the gymnasium was off-set by experience.
Simply put, Diaco put the match in the hands of his senior setter Darling and his two strong junior attackers, Jared and Corbin Thompson.
Just take a look at when the final two sets got close.
It was a Darling ace, followed by an almost-picture perfect set to Jared Thompson to end the second set; one where Dallas fought off set point on two separate occasions.
In the third, the Mountaineers found themselves down late, 22-21. But Darling’s quick one-timer over the net sparked a 4-1 run to close out the match.
“That big kill, it always gives you a confidence boost,” Jared Thompson said. “Really, we wanted to win that trophy because this was the first year they had one for volleyball. It was like the Old Shoe Game in football. That’s a great feeling, and it provides momentum. We started off the season rough, but we are working hard to get it back.”
Lehman (1-6), with several first-year players in the starting lineup, was stubborn.
Jake Corey blocked six shots, and deflected several others as his vertical leap seemed to bother Dallas at times.
Zack Corey kept swinging, even when shots sailed out of bounds. The senior finished with a team-high eight kills.
But that inexperience shined at the most inopportune times.
Ten attack errors, coupled with two service miscues and four violations whistled by the officials, gave Dallas 16 of its 25 points in the opening set.
And not closing out the second set on two chances? Yep, that’s just the inexperience of a team trying to find that big signature win under first-year coach Jim Hummer.
“Our inexperience does show at times,” Hummer said. “Right now, we just don’t know how to close the door. It showed. I knew they would respond after that tough second set because we’ve fought back before. We just couldn’t quite get there tonight. We are getting there as a team. It’s a completely different one than we started out with in the preseason. Things do look promising for the future.”
Lehman didn’t have an answer for the Thompson boys as the duo combined for 24 of the team’s 36 kills. Corbin, who missed last season with an injury, had 12 spikes, while Jared also had 12 – six coming in the third set.
“Jared has been our go-to guy. He keeps his head for the most part, and he’s really skilled. When it’s a tough situation, it’s great to have someone that’s willing to step up,” Diaco said. “This game, I think, opened some of their eyes. We have been preaching about the importance of decreasing our errors. And we made some of those same errors, and Lehman capitalized. We’re just happy that we were able to come back.”
Darling chipped in 27 assists for the Mountaineers, while Black Knight seniors Jake Corey and Clay Vasey combined for 11 kills.
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