WARMINSTER >> Coming up short had become a frustrating theme for the Dock Mennonite boys volleyball team.
But with their backs to the wall and their season on the line, the Pioneers found a way to come through when the decisive moments required it Thursday night.
“These guys have had so many tight matches this season and most of them we’ve lost,” Dock coach Trish Hoover said. “And one of the goals this season was to have that match that maybe they’re not supposed to win and they come up big and they get that match.
“And they just were not going to lose in the end because they had been denied so many times this season.”
Dock Mennonite rallied to force a fifth set in its District 1/11 Class AA championship match with Bethlehem Catholic. And in the winner-take-all game, the Pioneers fended off a Hawks’ match point before coming away with a 3-2 victory (21-25, 25-16, 17-25, 25-11, 16-14) at William Tennent.
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) May 25, 2017
“The last point we just said we worked so hard for this moment,” Dock’s Lincoln Bergey said. “And in previous matches that we said we got to win this one and we’re supposed to win this one and this one we finally, finally got that. We finally won a game that we were supposed to win.”
Bergey finished with 18 kills, 11 digs and four aces while Ryan Class collected seven aces – four in a row as Dock jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the fourth set – along with 10 kills and four digs as the Pioneers claimed its first district title since 2004.
“It feels great. We always look up at the banner when we’re playing,” Class said. “That’s our expectation to get it up there. Finally did it.”
Bethlehem Catholic – looking for its first district title since winning the District 11-AA crown in 2010 – was up 14-13 in the fifth set but Bergey tapped back a ball to get the Pioneers level. After Dock took the lead, Bergey clinched the win by with a kill from the left side.
“I was like Dylan (Derstine), the setter, I was like, ‘Dude I’m out here. I’m ready, I’m ready.’ And he’s like, “I know, I know,’” Bergey said. “And once I saw that ball come out, I was like, ‘Man, let’s put that ball down.’”
Derstine had 38 assists and 11 digs, Jaden Hunsberger added 32 digs while Jeremy Yoder made 11 digs. Jason Landis posted seven kills.
“We had a lot more energy the second, fourth and fifth game and that was basically the difference,” Bergey said.
Bethlehem Catholic ended the third set on a 15-6 run to go up 2-1 in the match, but Class’ serving gave the Pioneers momentum early in the fourth set – Dock earning 13 of the first 16 points on the way to a 14-point victory.
“That fourth set, they wanted to go in with a lot of passion, lot of energy,” Hoover said. “Ryan has struggled playing with confidence all season. It was the first time that I saw him say ‘Give me the ball I want to go.’ He was just rolling on his jump serve.”
The largest lead for either side in the fifth set with just two. Trailing 6-4, the Pioneers called a timeout then reeled off a 4-1 to edge ahead 8-7.
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) May 26, 2017
The Hawks retook the lead at 11-10 before two straight points from Dock put the Pioneers ahead 13-12. But a long serve and a center line violation made it 14-13 Becahi.
The next three points, however, went to the Pioneers, sending Dock Mennonite to the PIAA tournament for the first time since 2012 when it came in fourth in District 1-AAA.
The Pioneers face District 2 runner-up North Pocono in the first round of states Tuesday.
“These guys are excited,” Hoover said. “After losing the (Independent) League to Avon Grove in such a tight match, this is absolutely a goal that they wanted and they were not going to give up until somebody kicked them out the door.”
Dock Mennonite held an 11-5 lead in Thursday’s first set and still seemed in control as Bethlehem Catholic crept closer – going ahead 21-19 after the Hawks tied it at 18. But Becahi finished the set on a 6-0 run, winning 25-22 on a Mike Spirk block.
“I think we got a little complacent in the second half of the first set,” Hoover said. “And then they picked it up, starting serving really well and got us out of our offense. And that’s one way that teams can get to us. But thankfully we battled back and made a little adjustment on that and were able to come back.”
The Pioneers responded by never trailing in Set No. 2. Dock had an early 6-1 lead and Becahi could only get as close as two at 12-10. A Sam Gingerich ace put the Pioneers up 22-15 before they took the set 25-16.
In the third set, a three-point burst gave Bethlehem Catholic a 13-11 advantage. Dock answered with two straight but the Hawks took the lead for good with a 7-0 run. Becahi stretched the margin out to nine at 24-16 before going up 2-1 with a 25-17 win.
Class had three straight aces to force a Bethlehem Catholic timeout then had another the point after for a 5-0 Dock lead. The Pioneers made it 7-0 before the Hawks got on the scoreboard, but that did little to slow down Dock, who extend the lead to double digits at 13-3. Becahi could only cut the margin to eight as the Pioneers rolled to a 25-11 victory, sending the match to a fifth set.
Top Photo: Dock Mennonite Academy celebrates after defeating Bethlehem Catholic 3-2 in the District 1/11-AA final on Thursday, May 25, 2017. (Steve Sherman/Digital First Media)