EXETER TWP. >> With serve-receive usually being a strength for Dock Mennonite, the fact that it wasn’t on Tuesday night exemplified that it was going to be a steep, up-hill battle for the Pioneers out at Exeter High School.
“Daphne (Hunsinger) and Carsyn (McCloskey) usually own that,” Dock coach Trish Hoover said of serve-receive, following the Pioneers’ first-round PIAA Class A firs round matchup with Mount Calvary Christian. “We go two-person and tonight I had to put a third person in there. (MCC) just had our number for some reason and got us out of our system very well.”
The Chargers served and defended their way to a 3-0 victory over the Pioneers, advancing to Saturday’s quarterfinals against the winner of the Berlin Brothersvalley-Bishop Carroll match-up.
“I came out to watch Mount in their last match and I told the girls ‘they defend relentlessly,’” Hoover said of the District Three Champs. “They did it again tonight. To their credit, they served well and they defend great.”
Abigail Rudd was the Chargers’ main catalyst, her 16 kills helping to shape the outcome of the 25-16, 26-24, 25-19 victories for Mount.
“She’s their best player, by far, and our goal was to keep it away from No. 11, know where she is,” Hoover said. “They hide her in serve receive very well and she comes up and hits that ball out of the middle.
“So we did capitalize on that a couple times but the rest of their team did a good job of keeping us out of system, with their serves and with their defense, forcing us to do things that we didn’t execute as well tonight.”
Mount played a clean Game One then battled through a back-and-forth Game Two to take a pivotal 2-0 lead.
“In the middle of the match we started making lots of unforced errors,” Chargers coach Tiann Rutt said. “The girls didn’t wanna lose that second game. I just told them to go out strong, make a good pass up to the setter, for the setter to put it up and someone go up and kill it.
“Dock doesn’t give up, so I warned my team that when they get down, they will fight.”
Haley Witmer provided the steady pace for Mount, coming up with 23 assists and Marley Kreiser nailed down six aces.
Hunsinger had 13 kills for Dock and Molly Hand had 20 assists. The Pioneers came ever so close to tying things up at a game apiece but it would be Mount that got the elusive final few points.
“It was so close. We’re a team that usually thrives in that moment,” Hoover said of the District One Champs, “and we’ve been down, so I wasn’t really worried when we lost that first set. I don’t worry with this team because they know how to come back.
“I thought we had that second game and that would have changed the whole match of course, and then I thought we came out strong in the third and had a little bit of the momentum swing our way, but again (Mount) came right back with tough serving and tough defense, and that was the difference tonight for sure.”