WILKES-BARRE — Santiago Segura’s primary job may be as setter, but the Berwick junior showed the ability to contribute in other areas when the Bulldogs needed him during Tuesday night’s District 2 Class 2A boys volleyball semifinal.
Segura led a comeback in the final two games and finished with 37 assists, 18 digs, 18 service points, six aces and two digs when Berwick advanced to Thursday’s championship match at Dallas by rallying past Abington Heights in five games.
“He’s a phenomenal kid,” Berwick coach Sarah Warner said. “He works so hard and helps us in a number of ways, not just setting our offense.”
Segura provided the final two points of the 25-21, 20-25, 20-25, 25-15, 15-11 victory with a block and an ace. But he was also there to lead the momentum-changing start to the fourth game.
“He’s a vocal leader,” Warner said. “He can block well, and I think people are surprised by that. He’s smaller, but you can’t take one by him.”
Abington Heights had moved in front by winning two straight games with the help of a stretch in which it outscored Berwick, 24-5.
The Bulldogs needed a change of pace and Segura provided it.
“We trust ourselves,” Segura said. “We trust our team.
“We knew we could do it.”
Before Segura provided a spark, Warner was not so sure her team remembered that.
“We were really flat and not playing our game,” she said. “We struggled in a number of different ways, and I think we lost faith in ourselves.
“I was extremely vocal on the sideline, being energetic, trying to get my team rallied around. We needed that energy and needed to believe in ourselves again.”
Berwick’s 6-0 and 9-1 start to Game 4 included five straight service points by Segura. During that run, he served up two aces and set up a kill by Shawn Powell.
“We played with our hearts,” Segura said. “We remembered what we practiced.”
Abington Heights never got closer than five in the game and Berwick set itself up to pull out the victory.
Advancing to the championship match also assured Berwick of advancing to the PIAA Class 2A tournament. The last two times the Bulldogs made it — last season and back in 2007 — they had to win a third-place match to reach states.
“It takes a little pressure off,” Warner said. “Our guys really deserve to be in a championship game.”
Berwick will play Wyoming Valley Conference champion Holy Redeemer, the top seed, in Thursday’s final at Dallas.
The title shot continues the program’s resurgence under Warner. After three straight 2-10 seasons, followed by a 3-9 record in 2015, the Bulldogs have been on a rapid ascent.
“It’s such an amazing stride,” Segura said. “Berwick has never gone there.
“In the last four years, we’ve gone from not winning any games to going to the district championship. That just means so much to everybody.”
Joe Norce helped the Bulldogs get there with 14 kills and 18 digs. Zach Evans had 11 kills and 20 digs. Nick Norce had 10 kills and two blocks.
“We had to push from beginning to end,” Evans said.
Abington Heights will play Blue Ridge for the district’s third and final berth in Thursday’s doubleheader opener at 5 p.m. at Dallas.
The Comets were led by Evan Florey with 22 kills and 25 digs. James McGrail took over in the second and third games and finished with 20 kills, 21 digs and four aces. Matt Pacyna had 47 assists, 14 digs, five kills and three blocks.
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