Manheim Central bows in State quarterfinals
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Psychologically, the outcome of game two for the Manheim Central boys volleyball team last Saturday was going to determine a lot.
If they could win and pull even with Holy Redeemer, it was a new ball game.
Lose, and it was going to be an uphill battle.
Things were looking good for Central when it led 20-17 in the second game, but the Royals answered with an 8-2 run to grab a stranglehold on the match.
From there, Holy Redeemer finished off a 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-12) win and ended the Barons’ season in the PIAA State Double-A playoff quarterfinals at Minersville High School.
"Holy Redeemer came out and played really well," Manheim Central skipper Craig Dietrich said. "They played with a lot of energy, intensity – they were very aggressive. They executed very well. When you execute well and you play aggressive, good things are going to happen. Unfortunately for us, they executed at a pretty high rate."
That aggressive play from the Royals included an intense serving game, which put the Central boys out of system.
"A lot of it had to do with our serve receive just not being there," Dietrich said, "and when you put yourself in predictable patterns and you have some size like they do, we kinda played right into their hand."
Holy Redeemer, of course, got a quick start to the match, notching a seven-point win in game one. Senior Mike Morrison recorded a match-high 13 kills and junior Mike Prociak added 12 kills to lead the Royals. Senior Brendan Leahigh chipped in with eight.
"They had two pretty big hitters," Dietrich remarked. "They had a 6-7 middle and a 6-5 middle and that was pretty much their area of execution. They weren’t overly flashy, but it’s just a different look than what you’re seeing all season and we were never really able to adjust to that. We just couldn’t really get started offensively. Their serving was very aggressive which I think kept us out of system pretty much the whole night. Our offense became predictable and their block stepped it up."
Senior Josiah Hershberger reached double-digits in kills for MC with 11, in addition to recording six blocks, and Central had its eyes focused on pulling even with the Royals with a three-point lead late in game two.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
Sophomore Alex Kotch finished the game with 15 points from the service line on 21 attempts to lead Holy Redeemer.
"I think it was important (to win game two) in order to have a shot," Dietrich admitted. "Psychologically, being down 0-2 versus 1-1 … 0-2 is a big hole especially in that type of atmosphere with those kind of stakes in play. We had leads in that second game and we just couldn’t close it out. I think that really kinda frustrated the guys a little bit – maybe kinda took the wind out from underneath our sails."
With all the momentum in Holy Redeemer’s corner, the Royals took the early lead in game three, built a comfortable lead and never looked back. Brayden Fahnestock chipped in with five kills for the Barons, while Shawn Sauder picked up a team-high seven digs from his libero position.
"In the third game, they got off to a pretty good start," Dietrich said, "and I think our guys got kinda a little demoralized after that second game."
Looking back, though, Dietrich couldn’t say enough about the memories that his team created this spring.
"This group of seniors has just been fantastic over the last four years," Dietrich said. "They’ve accomplished a lot, achieved a lot, and put our program in places that we fortunately have become familiar the last couple of years. But a lot of it has to do with the work that they’ve put in. They’re a special group – great kids and they’re going to be sorely missed next year. They had a lot of experience over the last three years. We’ve been to States three times the last three years, District semi-finals three straight years and the finals this year. It’s unfortunate that it happened when it is, but only one team can win the State championship and unfortunately, that’s not us. But I’m not disappointed with this group. They’ve been fantastic all year and it’s been an awesome ride and I’m privileged to be called their coach."
More MC VOLLEYBALL, page B-3