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Tunkhannock, Holy Redeemer Set Up Semifinal Match

By Tom Fox, CorrespondentMay 16, 2019

WILKES-BARRE — Berwick found its momentum.

The Bulldogs dropped the first set to Tunkhannock, but Sarah Warner’s club quickly regrouped — grabbing a 20-15 lead in the next stanza.

That momentum quickly diminished.

Tunkhannock ripped off a 10-1 run on serves by Joao Oldoni and Paul Binner, and the Tigers rode Trejon Turner’s 15 kills to a 3-0 sweep of Berwick in the District 2 Class 2A boys volleyball quarterfinals Wednesday at Holy Redeemer.

The Tigers roll into Tuesday’s semifinals and will face No. 1 seed Holy Redeemer, a 3-0 winner over District 1’s Dock Mennonite. Redeemer beat Tunkhannock, 3-1, in the final week of Wyoming Valley Conference regular-season play.

“There were definitely some nerves coming into this one because you know that one loss could end your season,” Binner said. “But the postseason is a great time. The crowd was cheering and the team was yelling. It’s a great feeling. We knew Berwick was going to be tough, but we felt pretty confident coming in.”

Playing with a new setter, the fifth-seeded Bulldogs fell down 20-10 in the opening set and never found a rhythm.

That changed in the second.

The passes were more crisp. The serves were on point. And with Zach Evans, Shawn Powell and Cody Smith taking healthy cuts, Berwick was able to build a five-point lead (19-14) in the race to 25.

“Any time you make any changes in volleyball, it makes a big difference,” Warner said. “The chemistry is different. The trust is different. It was a major hurdle and obstacle that we had to work with. I’ve been harping on serving tough and passing well. When we did that tonight, we held our own. When our passing fell apart, we struggled.”

That’s when Tunkhannock took over.

Two kills and a block by Turner, several big swings by Avery Billings and Andrew Slacktish and a set-clinching point by Jacob Keeler stole all the momentum.

“It’s all fun. I just tried to keep a clear mind and play the game,” Turner said. “There were a lot of emotions. This was so much fun. I’m excited for the chance to play against Holy Redeemer again.”

The Bulldogs took a 7-5 lead in the final set, but Tunkhannock used a 9-0 run on Billings’ serve to grab an eight-point advantage (17-9).

Turner finished with 15 kills, while Binner added 10 kills and 18 assists. Berwick’s Evans, in his final match, ended with 10 kills.

Berwick 14 21 16 — 0

Tunkhannock 25 25 25 — 3

Holy Redeemer 3, Dock Mennonite 0

This was probably the toughest quarterfinal Redeemer has had since it started a run of eight straight district titles.

Even though it is from District 1, Dock Mennonite suffered the same fate as most District 2 teams have this season against the Royals.

Jared Piontkowski was on another level, recording a match-high 27 kills as Redeemer swept Dock, 3-0, in the opener.

“For them to be an eight seed is ridiculous,” Redeemer head coach Jack Kablick said. “They played in a tough league, and I guess that brought their power ranking down. We did a great job, especially the sophomores. We know that Jared is going to take control of the game, but those sophomores all contributed heavily tonight. And that’s a great sign for this team.”

Really, Dock was right with Redeemer for the final two sets after trailing 18-5 to start the match. It had a 13-8 lead and a 17-14 edge late in the second set before the Royals ripped off 11 of the final 13 points for the 25-19 win.

The Royals jumped out to a 7-4 lead to begin the third, but Dock battled back and trailed by two late in the set. Behind four kills from Piontkowski and several timely swings from sophomores Matt Spiccioli, Matt Williams and Matt Albrecht, Redeemer accounted for nine of the last 12 points to seal the sweep.

“You have to look at it like it’s just another district game, and you have to keep fighting on every single ball,” Spiccioli said. “We just have to keep working hard and keep getting better every day. It’s the postseason, so you know that every match is going to be a challenge, and you know that they are going to keep getting tougher. I was happy with the way I played. I just want to get better each day and do what the coaches tell me to do.”

The first set was all Redeemer and Piontkowski, who killed nine balls in the stanza. The Royals jumped out to an 18-5 lead.

Spiccioli and Williams combined for nine kills, while setter George Beck hadd 34 assists.

Dock Memmonite 17 19 17 — 0

Holy Redeemer 25 25 25 — 3

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