WILKES-BARRE — There may have been some sloppiness to the first sequences of the latest Holy Redeemer trip to the state volleyball tournament, but there was no panic.
Mishandled serves; miscommunication that allowed floating shots to fall untouched between two Royals; well-set up kills that whistled wide or long. All were part of the equation, but the worst damage they did was in creating a six-point deficit in one game to start the first-round match.
Wyoming Valley Conference and District 2 champion Holy Redeemer settled itself and built momentum throughout a 25-23, 25-21, 21-14 victory over Lansdale Catholic at Wilkes University’s Marts Center in PIAA Class 2A boys volleyball play.
The Royals advance to Saturday’s state quarterfinals against Palmyra, a 25-17, 25-11, 25-16 winner over Archbishop Wood.
“Our last three matches I could say that it wasn’t the best start we’ve ever had,” Holy Redeemer coach John Kablick said. “We just kind of grind it out. The guys didn’t panic.
“That’s what you look for, dropping of the heads or going silent. There were no omens.”
Junior George Beck settled the Holy Redeemer offense.
“Sometimes during games, we come out a little rusty and don’t know what we’re doing,” said Beck, who finished with 30 assists, five service points, two kills and one block. “Then, all of a sudden, we just get back in the groove and play our game as Redeemer.”
In several key spots, Beck sent a high-arching set from the right edge of the court to Ben Rachilla at the left edge of the net for a powerful kill.
“There was nothing really to get worried about,” Beck said. “If it gets to be a really questionable game, coach brings us in, we recollect everything, then gain our confidence back.”
Rachilla, the team’s all-state hitter, was among those who struggled early, but he was prominent in the first game rally from a 15-9 deficit and went on to finish with 23 kills and three blocks.
From that point forward, Holy Redeemer outscored Lansdale Catholic, 66-43, including 33-15 at the end.
Jared Piontkowski had 23 kills and three blocks in the win. Zach Walker had four blocks and two kills. Dom Cirelli had 13 points. Dom Adameck had seven points, two assists and two digs.
Joey Judge won a battle at the net and Piontkowski was there to follow with consecutive plays for points to start the comeback from Holy Redeemer’s biggest deficit.
Rachilla had six kills and Beck had five assists among Holy Redeemer’s last 17 points of the first game.
Holy Redeemer jumped in front 4-1 in the second game, but eventually fell behind, 20-16.
Jared Piontkowski’s kill started the comeback and Matt Piontkowski had a kill and a block while the Royals were taking nine of the game’s last 10 points.
Holy Redeemer’s only deficit in the third game was at 1-0. The Royals ran out to a 15-7 advantage and cruised from there.
Matt Gaul had 10 kills to lead Lansdale Catholic.
Dock Mennonite 3, Berwick 0
Elsewhere in the Class 2A bracket, the Bulldogs were eliminated with a 25-21, 25-13, 25-19 sweep at the hands of District 1 champion Dock Mennonite.
Berwick was led by Joe Norce (12 kills, five digs), Zach Evans (four kills, five digs, two blocks) and Misael Hernandez (nine service points, four digs). The D2 runner-up Bulldogs end their season with an overall record of 12-5.
Dock Mennonite advanced to play undefeated Northeastern, which knocked out Abington Heights 25-5, 25-18, 25-14.