CASS TWP. – They were tall. They were fast. They hit the ball with absolute precision.
Even with video scouting, the Palmyra boys volleyball team looked better in real life.
Holy Redeemer had its season come to an end in a three-set loss to Palmyra in the PIAA Class 2A boys volleyball quarterfinals on Saturday at Minersville High School. The Royals lost by scores of 25-14, 25-20, 25-14.
“You just can’t give up those points,” Holy Redeemer coach John Kablick said. “That was just a good team. They were better today.”
Palmyra advances to face Dock Mennonite in the semifinal. Both teams knocked off the only two remaining undefeated teams in the state.
The Cougars came out swinging by winning five of the first six points of the first set. The Royals cut into the deficit to move within three with a block from Jared Piontkowski and George Beck to make it 10-7. With another three-point lead, the Palmyra strung together a 7-1 run to take a 20-11 lead.
“I thought the first set was going to be a learning session,” Kablick said. “From the film we saw, the starting lineup was 100 percent different. I think the speed killed us in the first set with serving and hitting.”
With a team comprised of only two returners, Holy Redeemer finishes its season with a 16-1 record. The Royals’ Ben Rachilla dominated with 14 kills and five blocks. Jared Piontkowski finished with 10 kills and four blocks.
Holy Redeemer’s best chance came in the second set. The Royals took a 9-6 lead on a Beck ace. Palmyra went on a 6-0 run to take a two-point lead. Holy Redeemer moved within one twice. As was the case for the entirety of the match, three consecutive service errors doomed the Royals and allowed the Cougars to stretch their lead to 22-16 en route to a 25-20 set win.
“All of their servers were very good,” Kablick said. “They were trying to serve away from where we wanted to go. They knew that we wanted to go to Ben (Rachilla). And I’m sure their coach was calling away to make it hard for George to get to Ben.”
Again in the third, the Royals took a 9-6 lead on a block from Matt and Jared Piontkowski. Setting errors allowed Palmyra to score five straight points to secure a two-point lead. The last of three service errors kicked off a seven-point streak that gave the Cougars a 20-11 advantage. Following the Royals’ three-point lead, Palmyra won 17 of 20 points.
“It came down to unforced errors, and we gave up a lot of points,” Kablick said. “But, hey, it’s a big stage.”
Palmyra was led by Arcadia-bound Collin Nissley with 12 kills. Tyler Sheaffer had nine kills. Joey McInerny provided five aces, of which three came in the third set.
PIAA CLASS 2A QUARTERFINALS
Palmyra 3, Holy Redeemer 0
PAL: Collin Nissley 12 kills. Tyler Sheaffer 9 kills. Joey McInerny 5 aces.
HR: Ben Rachilla 14 kills, 5 blocks, 6 points. Jared Piontkowski 10 kills. 4 blocks; Dominic Adamek 4 points. 3 digs.
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