TOWAMENCIN >> It took a little while for No. 1 Dock Mennonite to start firing on all cylinders Tuesday night. However, despite the Pioneers’ imperfect start they still cruised to a win in the opening round of the District 1-11 AA boys volleyball playoffs.
Dock used its superior net play to sweep No. 4 Southern Lehigh 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-10) and secure a place in Thursday’s championship game with a trip to the PIAA playoffs on the line.
“We started off really slow,’’ said Dock head coach Trish Hoover. “They kept us out of system with some quirky stuff and usually we’re pretty good out of system but once we settled down and got into our rhythm we were able to turn things on and play how we know we can and should.’’
Despite winning the first two sets, Dock looked uncomfortable at times.
The Pioneers’ passing was inconsistent from their back-row early, and it allowed Southern Lehigh to win some points and make the sets closer than the Dock players would have liked.
Even though this was a playoff game, the Spartans came in with just one win on the season and were not expected to trouble the Pioneers much.
The turning point seemed to be when the Dock started to hit consistently out of the middle. Middle hitter Jason Landis had a huge second set, registering five of his eight kills for the game and once that happened, the entire court opened up.
From there, it was outside hitter Lincoln Bergey who put the game away. Bergey finished with a team-high 14 kills on the night and looked unstoppable at times, but it was not until they started spreading the ball around that they began to thrive.
“The main reason we couldn’t get that middle down in the first set is our passing wasn’t there,” said Hoover. “Once we started to hit those in the end of the second set and into the third it started to open up the outside and give us more options and everything else fell in place.”
Another reason the Pioneers were able to sweep Southern Lehigh despite not playing as sharp as they can, is the jump-serve of Ryan Class.
Class had a game-high four aces as his powerful serve dipped over the net. Even when he wasn’t scoring aces, he was causing the Spartans to overpass or make mental errors, something he’s done all season long.
“Ryan (Class) was leading the entire state in aces last time I looked,’’ said Hoover. “He’s a huge weapon for us and has had huge runs using that serve for us throughout the whole year.’’
Now, it is time for the Pioneers to put this match behind them and prepare for Thursday’s championship.
They know they can play better moving forward, but the team is just excited to have the chance to move on and continue improving.
“The postseason is a time for you to go up and improve as a team,” said setter Dylan Derstine. “We’re going to keep improving, keep pushing the bar higher and higher, and we know we can keep getting better.”