DALLAS — It was billed as a district championship. In actuality, it turned into an absolute clinic by the now seven-time defending titlists.
Holy Redeemer was dominating in every facet of the match. Ben Rachilla, Luke Nealon and Matt Blaum crushed thunderous spikes from setter Jimmy Stepanski, and the Royals were unstoppable en route to a 3-0 victory over North Pocono in the District 2 Class 2A boys’ volleyball championship Thursday night at Dallas High School.
It was the seventh-straight title for the Royals, who open up state play Tuesday against the third-placer from District 12. Time and location has yet to be announced, although the game will be somewhere within District 2.
Set scores were 25-12, 25-13 and 25-10.
“Coming in, we knew that we couldn’t take them lightly,” said senior libero Mike Mohutsky, who finished with 21 points and eight digs. “We go out 100 percent and play at our level. For me, this is special. This gold medal is really special because it’s my senior year. I won’t have the opportunity to wear this uniform ever again when this season ends.”
It was the definition of nearly flawless volleyball.
An attack spread out over three different players, led by Rachilla’s 19 kills, amazing back-row play from Mohutsky and Jude Height. Tough-to-handle serves by George Beck and Dominic Adameck.
Even Jack Kablick, a tough critic at times who can always find something to pick out of a match to improve on, admitted the game was pretty close to perfection.
“We were ready. It’s easy to focus when you are playing for a district championship. Everyone was up, and we wanted that seven in a row,” the Holy Redeemer head coach said. “The guys just executed great. From back behind the 30-foot line to our passers and setter. Our hitters were crushing the ball. You can’t just pick one person out. Honestly, that was an ‘A’ game. We played an ‘A’ game.”
Want to know the scary part?
Talk with some of the Royals, and they still believe there’s plenty of room to grow and improve.
And that’s saying something considering Redeemer didn’t lose a set in Wyoming Valley Conference play, and won nine straight games in three district playoff games.
“I don’t think we hit our peak. I think we are starting to build toward it. We just have so much potential on this roster,” Mohutsky said.
Coming off a hard-fought match in the semis against Berwick where Redeemer had some sluggish starts to sets, there was none of that against North Pocono.
An 18-8 lead in the first. A 13-point edge to start the second. And a dominating service performance by Mohutsky in the third where he sent 11 straight darts to the back-right corner where the Trojans had trouble getting the pass forward.
When the senior left the back line, Redeemer was up 12-2 and well on its way to another district title.
“It’s a good feeling to know that you are in control from the start,” Rachilla said. “A nice strong start helps to calms the nerves, and really, it puts the pressure on your opponent.”
Nealon finished with 15 kills, while Blaum added eight spikes.
Berwick 3, Abington Heights 0
For the first time since 2007, Berwick is heading back to the state playoffs.
Led by a 13-kill effort from Gabe Oliver, the Bulldogs rolled through Abington Heights, 3-0, in the third-place match of the District 2 Class 2A tournament.
With the victory, Berwick advances into the state bracket to face off with the champ of District 3, either Northeastern or York Suburban.
“All the hard work our program has done over the past few years has been great and paid off,” Berwick setter Ethan Potter said. “Our one goal was to go to states, and we’ve achieved it.”
After gutting out a 25-22 win in the first set, Berwick started to flex its muscle against the Lackawanna League representative.
The Bulldogs scored 10 of the final 13 points in the second for a 25-14 win, and dominated the third – leading 18-8 at one point.
“This team is the perfect example of hard work turning into success,” Berwick head coach Sarah Warner said. “We put so much time and effort into this season. I didn’t think we had nerves tonight, but we didn’t have the best of nights. To pull off the win was nice. I’m proud of our kids, and what they’ve achieved this season.”
Dylan Michael and Max McCabe combined for 12 kills, while Potter added 30 assists.
Holy Redeemer 3, North Pocono 0
North Pocono `12`17`10 – 0
Holy Redeemer `25`25`25 – 3
NP leaders: James Ildefonso 6 kills; Vincent Wojnar 3 kills; Jonathan Haikes 10 assists, 1 ace.
Redeemer leaders: Ben Rachilla 19 kills, 2 blocks; Luke Nealon 15 kills, 8 blocks; Mike Mohutsky 21 points, 8 digs; Jimmy Stepanski 26 assists, 7 digs; Matt Blaum 8 kills, 5 points.
Berwick 3, Abington Heights 0
Abington Heights `22`14`18 `–` 0
Berwick `25`25`25 `–` 3
AH leaders: George Kronick 5 kills; Peter Heckman 4 kills; Matt Pacyna 17 assists.
Berwick leaders: Ethan Potter 30 assists, 3 kills; Dylan Michael 7 kills, Gabe Oliver 13 kills, Max McCabe 5 kills, 3 blocks.