TOWAMENCIN >> It wasn’t easy, but the Dock Mennonite Academy girls volleyball got the job done on Senior Night.
The Pioneers topped Souderton in five sets, 25-23, 25-18, 24-26, 21-25, 15-13, Thursday night.
“It’s always a thriller with Souderton,” Dock coach Trish Hoover said. “A bunch of the girls know each other, so there is good camaraderie/competition every year — girls and guys — when we play them. It’s always a lot of fun.”
The decisive fifth set was even tighter than the score suggested. Souderton scored the first three points, Dock responded with five straight and Souderton scored the next two to bring the set to a 5-5 tie.
Dock responded with four straight points to take a 9-5 lead, but the Indians went on a run to get within one point, 11-10.
The Pioneers got within one point of victory at 14-10. Souderton fought back to make it 14-13.
That’s when the hosts ended it.
Dock’s Hannah Swartley tallied the game-winning point to bring the loud gym to its feet.
“The girls are really determined,” Hoover said. “One thing we’ve been working on and on the back of our shirts is ‘strong and confident.’ We still get these little times within a match where we take our foot off the gas pedal and we start playing not to lose instead of playing to win. Just got them refocused in the fifth set. Another team doesn’t come in this gym on our Senior Night and take it away from us after they worked so hard. Thankfully they stayed strong and confident in that fifth set.”
Daphne Hunsinger led the Pioneers with 16 kills and added four aces and 19 digs. Carsyn McCloskey had a game-high 26 digs and two aces. Courtney Herm led the way with 28 assists.
Souderton’s Tori Reiner tallied a team-high 14 kills and had three blocks. Maria Iervolino added 11 kills. Talia Watson paced the team with 12 digs and four aces and Miranda Baronett had 11 digs.
After dropping the first two sets, Souderton had to go on quite the run to force a decisive fifth set.
Dock was in control looking for the sweep, jumping out to a 10-4 lead and eventually having game-point at 24-22. The Indians rattled off four straight points to win the set, 26-24, and extend the game.
“I’m proud of the way they came back after the slow start,” Souderton coach Dave Childs said. “Give Dock credit for coming out and winning the first two and then closing it out.
“That’s something we’ve done all year — we haven’t quit. We’ve been down like that multiple, multiple times and have come back and won games. We know we can. It’s just about staying calm and playing our game.”
“(Souderton went) on a little bit of a run,” Hoover said. “They got a little momentum. They served us tougher. They started running their middle. We didn’t make the adjustments that we needed to on them. Our blocking was a little suspect on the outside. They played well. They passed better, they served us better in the second half of that third set.”
The momentum carried into the fourth set. Both teams were tight throughout and Souderton gained an edge a little more than halfway through with a 21-18 lead. The Indians kept a comfortable advantage and won, 25-21, to force the fifth set.
Dock went on a 6-1 run to win the first set, 25-23. The Pioneers trailed 22-19 before calling timeout. They responded with three straight points to tie the score at 22 and force a Souderton timeout. The Indians had two serves go out of bounds and hit another ball into the net to give Dock the three points it needed to take a 1-0 lead.
In the second set, Dock scored four straight points after the teams were tied at 15. It maintained a comfortable lead and won, 25-18, to go ahead, 2-0.
Both teams are very much alive in the District 1 playoff picture.
Dock entered this week as the No. 1 ranked team in the unofficial Class A power rankings.
“What it comes down to every year,” Hoover explained, “is we typically win that first round and then the second round we face Sacred Heart, which is our district nemesis. It’s happened every year for the last five. We won one, they won three. I expect that’s who we’ll be facing again in districts.”
Souderton was ranked No. 12 entering this week in the AAAA classification, where 24 teams make the playoffs.
“10-7, don’t know the rankings,” Childs said. “If we can get in, that’s all that really matters.”