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Lance Larcom
Northern Tier West Sports Report
LAKE LEHMAN — The North Penn-Liberty volleyball team was pushed by Lake Lehman in the first two sets of their Class AA State playoff opener Tuesday, and the Lady Mounties responded with yet another stellar team effort to earn a 3-0 sweep over the Knights and a spot in the championship quarterfinals.

After dominating sweeps of both Athens and Wyalusing in the District IV playoffs, the Mounties again showed signs that they are peaking at the perfect time.

“I think we’re improving at a fast rate at this point in the season,” says senior middle hitter Lexi Kshir, “We’re definitely playing the strongest we have all season.”

NPL won the sets 25-21, 25-23 and 25-17.

A back-and-forth start saw the Knights take a 7-6 lead in the first set, followed by a four-point run to extend their lead to 11-6 and an eventual 14-9 lead.

With only one common opponent between the two teams .. Athens .. and little time to scout, the Mounties let their abilities carry them through the early deficit.

“We didn’t really know much about this team coming in,” says junior Saige Lehman, “but we were confident that if we played strong we would win.”

Senior setter Aubrey Pequignot adds, “Since we didn’t know anything about them, we were prepared for anything.”

Pequignot finished with 19 assists in the match, while junior Megan Spohn added nine. Kshir led the Lady Mountie attack with 10 kills and added eight digs and seven service receptions.

The Mounties chipped away at the Knight lead and used kills from Kshir and Lehman to tie the score and then take a one-point lead. NPL stretched their lead to six at 23-17 and senior Darby Stetter closed out the set with a back-row kill and a heads-up call on an out-of-bounds Knight spike for the 25-21 win.

Stetter and Lehman each had six kills, with Stetter adding 11 digs and 17 service receptions and Lehman recording 10 service receptions and five digs.

In the second set, NPL jumped out to 4-1 and 7-4 leads. Lake Lehman tied the set at seven, and the two teams traded leads back and forth, combining for 10 ties on their way to a 23-all score. A Pequignot ace and a Lehman kill secured the second-set, 25-23 win for NPL.

North Penn-Liberty came out strong in the third set, taking a 7-1 lead. Kshir and junior Ella Swingle controlled the net and fired the Mounties up with several blocks. Swingle finished with three blocks and six kills, and Kshir added a pair of blocks.

Lake Lehman clawed back into the set, drawing to within two at 9-7. That’s as close as NPL would allow the Knights to get, methodically pulling away and gaining as much as a 10-point lead on their way to the match-clinching 25-17 win.

Junior libero Mckenna Lightner had 10 digs and eight service receptions for NPL, and junior Reese Barrett added four kills and two assists.

The win is NP-Liberty’s 20th of the season, against a lone loss against Central Mountain, and along with NTL and District IV titles, leaves the Mounties as one of eight remaining AA teams in contention for a State Championship. 

Lightner credits the Mounties’ experience, as a team, for their successes.

“This group has been together for a long time and we have built a great relationship with each other on and off the court,” Lightner says. “We all enjoy playing with each other so much .. which makes the game that much more fun.”

The Lady Mounties will look to stay sharp, adjust as needed and enjoy their season getting extended when they face District 11 champ Notre Dame Green Pond .. 3-0 winners over District 12 champ Conwell-Egan .. on Saturday at Berwick High School at 1 p.m. 

“I think we’ve realized that when we play uptight we don’t play our best,” explains Spohn, “so it’s really important for us to have fun but stay focused.”

*Tickets for the match must be purchased HERE

PHOTOS: Lance Larcom

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