SCRANTON – Coughlin made it extremely interesting. Mike Trygar had the last laugh.
The Crusaders rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force a fifth set, but it was Western Wayne’s senior hitter that stepped up in the clutch, recording five kills and four blocks in the final stanza as the Wildcats edged Coughlin, 3-2, in the third-place match of the District 2 Class 2A volleyball tournament.
Western Wayne moves into the state bracket to face either Northeastern or Manheim Central in the opening round. Coughlin also advances, but must beat the District 11 champ on Saturday in a play-in match.
Match scores were 26-24, 25-14, 23-25, 15-25 and 15-13.
“I thought we played well for the first two sets, then fell asleep for No. 3 and No. 4,” Western Wayne head coach Tim Snyder said. “Give Coughlin credit because they really stepped up in the final three games. They made it a real challenge for us.”
It didn’t appear that the match would last more than three sets.
After dropping a heartbreaker, 26-24, in the opening set, the Wildcats jumped out to a nine-point lead in the second (15-6) and never looked back.
Coughlin head coach Shayne McGrady tried everything.
Tried pleading with his players. Switched up who spoke in the huddle. Sat his team down, and questioned their tenacity.
“Really, it was more about the intensity and commitment,” he said. “I don’t think we brought it in the first two sets. We really had a chance in that first set because Western Wayne was kind of sloppy there. But we just didn’t have the intensity to match them.”
It all changed in 30 minutes.
Coughlin trailed 22-20 in the third set, but four Western Wayne attack errors gave the Crusaders a little pulse and a two-point win.
Joshua Wilk had a block party in the fourth set, knocking down three straight balls. And an 8-0 run late with Kenny Werkheiser’s serving forced a deciding final race to 15.
“I think the kids responded, and it was nice to see the heart get pumping there late in the match,” McGrady said. “You know, the start really hurt us. The kids fought back, which I’m proud of. I just wish we were able to bring that intensity right from the start. We’ll address it, and move into Saturday. We’ll probably draw Bethlehem Catholic, and they are ranked third in the state, I believe. It’s going to be tough, but we’ll see what happens.”
Trygar didn’t waste much time.
He recorded three kills to give Western Wayne a 6-4 lead, and a Patrick Miller’s cross-court spike to the left corner gave the Wildcats a 12-8 edge.
“A few years back, one of the college coaches on my e-mail list said that in a 15-point game, the team that jumps out usually wins,” Snyder said. “I told the kids that we wanted to be the first to six. And we were. Then, we wanted to make it a game until 11, and we were ahead, 11-8. That kind of works for us. I think we’ve won all our 15-point games in the last few years when we use that theory.”
Trygar had 17 kills to pace Western Wayne, while Miller added seven. Werkheiser had eight kills to pace Coughlin, while senior Michael Lewandowski added six. Wilk finished with five kills and eight blocks.
WESTERN WAYNE 3, COUGHLIN 2
Western Wayne` 26`25`23`15`15
Coughlin Leaders: Kenny Werkheiser, 8 kills, 3 aces; Joshua Wilk, 5 kills, 8 blocks; Danny Sales, 23 assists.
Western Wayne Leaders: Michael Trygar, 17 kills, 2 aces; Patrick Miller 7 kills; Sam Hoch, 29 assists.