Holy Redeemer comes out on top in sizzling 2A title battle

By Tom Robinson - For Times Leader
Holy Redeemer’s Jared Piontkowski spikes the ball over the net against Berwick during Thursday’s Class 2A Championship at Dallas High School. -
Holy Redeemer’s Ben Rachilla spikes the ball against Berwick’s Shawn Powell (24) and Connor Hanson during Thursday’s district 2A title match at Dallas. -

DALLAS TWP. – Technically, it was another sweep by Holy Redeemer, the team that routinely sweeps away all local boys volleyball competition.

But, it was far from an easy night for the Royals on the way to their eighth straight district title.

Berwick carried leads past the midway point of all three games before Holy Redeemer engineered the rallies that produced a 25-18, 25-22, 25-22 victory in the District 2 Class 2A championship match.

Just as it had in all 12 matches of a perfect Wyoming Valley Conference season, Holy Redeemer ended the match in three games. The Royals, however, had to work for it in the match played inside a hot, stuffy gym at Dallas.

“It was exciting,” Holy Redeemer coach John Kablick said. “It was hot enough in here as it was, and it got a lot hotter.

“We could never get any distance. We could never get any separation.”

Ben Rachilla led the Royals with 31 kills, including the 1,000th of his career.

“They put together an amazing performance,” Rachilla said. “They really did well with running their offense. They had some really good passes and they really gave us a run.

“But I think we proved strong in the end.”

Rachilla was a big reason why, helping the Royals finish each game strong. He also had seven service points, three blocks, two digs along with getting help from his teammates.

Jared Piontkowski had 16 kills and four blocks. Matt Piontkowski had seven kills, six digs and four service points. George Beck had 48 assists, seven points, two blocks and two digs.

Joe Norce had 10 kills and six digs while Santiago Segura had 23 assists and eight digs for Berwick.

“I could not be more proud of the grit that these guys showed,” Berwick coach Sarah Warner said. “The passion; the energy; you could not ask for anything more than that.”

Berwick came out fired up and opened three-point leads six times before Holy Redeemer claimed its first lead at 14-13.

Beck served three straight points for a late 22-17 lead and also assisted each of the three kill leaders during the big finish after Berwick’s last lead at 15-14.

In Game Two, the Bulldogs started even faster opening four-point leads four times, including at 11-7.

Holy Redeemer tied the game for the first time since 1-1 at 16-16, then moved in front to stay.

Berwick turned a 4-1 deficit into a 9-7 lead in the third game. The teams traded the lead more often early in the game, but the Bulldogs led as late as 13-12.

Once again, though, it was Holy Redeemer on top when it came time to award the district championship plaque and gold medals.

“The seniors my freshman year told me they wanted me to carry on the legacy,” said Rachilla, who has been part of half the titles in the streak. “Completing it means a lot to me.”

Connor Hanson added eight digs and five points for Berwick. Shawn Powell had six kills, two blocks and two aces.

Holy Redeemer will open the state tournament Tuesday at Wilkes University against the third-place team from District 12.

Berwick also advances into state play and will take on the winner of the District 1-11 Subregional in a Tuesday match at Bensalem.

Abington Heights 3, Blue Ridge 1

Lackawanna League champion Abington Heights claimed the district’s third berth in the state Class 2A tournament with a 25-23, 25-21, 9-25, 25-19 win to open the doubleheader at Dallas.

Evan Florey led the Comets with 22 kills, 16 digs and two aces.

Garrett Mansfield had 11 kills and 18 digs for Blue Ridge.

Holy Redeemer’s Jared Piontkowski spikes the ball over the net against Berwick during Thursday’s Class 2A Championship at Dallas High School.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052518Volleyball1.jpgHoly Redeemer’s Jared Piontkowski spikes the ball over the net against Berwick during Thursday’s Class 2A Championship at Dallas High School.

Holy Redeemer’s Ben Rachilla spikes the ball against Berwick’s Shawn Powell (24) and Connor Hanson during Thursday’s district 2A title match at Dallas.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_TTL052518Volleyball2.jpgHoly Redeemer’s Ben Rachilla spikes the ball against Berwick’s Shawn Powell (24) and Connor Hanson during Thursday’s district 2A title match at Dallas.
Redeemer rallies against pesky Berwick squad to win eighth straight title

By Tom Robinson

For Times Leader