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Pennridge rallies past Dallastown in 5, advances to PIAA 3A quarters

QUAKERTOWN >> The bigger the moment, the bigger the pressure, the bigger the enjoyment for Ben Chinnici.

“Those are my favorite, When it’s like 14-14 in the fifth set — absolutely favorite moments,” the Pennridge senior said. “That’s why I play volleyball, for a match like this.”

Twice in the fourth set Tuesday night, the Rams boys volleyball team survived match point to keep its season alive. That enabled Chinnici to come through with a block to force a fifth game with Dallastown in their PIAA Class AAA first-round contest.

Down 12-10 in the deciding set, Chinnici provided the go-ahead strike as Pennridge ran off the final five points – the last four on Corey Quaste’s serve – to rally past the Wildcats for a 3-2 (25-13, 23-25, 25-16, 30-28, 15-12) victory at Quakertown Community High School.

“In that situation, I think the No. 1 think we need to do is just stay calm and do what we need to do on our side of the court,” Chinnici said. “On the inside at some points I may be nervous, but I try to portray a lot of confidence on the court. I think it helps everyone out.”

Chinnici – a Ball State commit – finished with 26 kills, eight aces and four blocks while Quaste collected 48 assists and four blocks for the District 1 champion Rams, who advance to the quarterfinals for the second straight season. Pennridge faces District 11 champ Emmaus – a 3-0 winner over La Salle – Saturday at a site and time to be announced.

“Our first contacts were better, all around defense and serve/receive, that was the key. That’s when we struggled, that’s what the problem was,” Rams coach Dave Childs said. “That led to the other problems. Credit to Dallastown, they’re a phenomenal team.

Cross Edwards chipped in 15 kills and six blocks for Pennridge. Josiah Friesen had eight kills, 10 digs and five blocks with Danny Rutter making 26 digs.

“We’ve been there before. The guys know what was happening and why we were a little bit off there,” Childs said. “It was the ball-control issues, some mental lapses and I guess as a team that’s the difference, even if it’s a not a close game that’s the difference in giving them momentum so they can expand a lead.”

The Rams (18-5) cruised in the opening set but let a late lead slip away in the second while Dallastown – District 3’s four-place finisher – pulled away midway through the third.

“We had some miscommunications between the hitters and the setter, our serve/receive was not good at all at any point throughout that second and third game and it was evident,” Chinnici said. “So we just kind of reset. I feel like I say this every match, we just kind of reset, we refocus and came out strong in the fourth set. And that’s what we had to do.”

Pennridge had the first chance to win the fourth set at 24-23 but a net serve put the Wildcats back level. Dallastown served for the match at 25-24 yet Chinnici kept the Rams going by lofting a shot over the block and the Wildcats could not return it.

Dallastown had match point again 26-25 but after getting blocked, Chinnici kept the ball alive and the Rams eventually won the point on a Cross Edwards shot down the line.

“It takes a huge amount of perseverance when it’s going to extra innings,” Chinnici said. “Everyone needs to be able to be calm but at the same time go big and make a play in that situation. We can’t be conservative. That’s what loses points. You got to go big for that game.”

Pennridge came up empty on its second and third set points. But after a Dallastown net serve gave them a fourth attempt the Rams found a way to a fifth set as Chinnici block at the edge near the sideline gave them the 30-28 win.

“Right when he set that ball it was pretty tight and knew I’d be able to just go up there and grab that ball,” Chinnici said. “And that was a huge momentum swing for our team to win that fourth set.”

A three-point run gave Dallastown an 8-6 edge in the fifth game but Pennridge got back level at 10-10 after a Quaste block.

The Wildcats went back up 12-10 but those prove to be their final points. The Rams were level 12-12 after a Dallastown shot went wide while Chinnici smashed a ball the Wildcats put too close to the net, giving Pennridge the lead 13-12.

“They just passed it a little tight and it just got to the plane of the net and I happened to be watching it,” Chinnici said.

A  Dallastown shot long to the opposite sideline created match point, which saw the Wildcats called for a double hit after a Pennridge block, cementing the Rams’ spot in the state round of eight.

Pennridge finished the first set in dominant fashion, as its 10-0 run gave them the opener 25-13.

“We were blocking great in the first set. We had a ton of blocks and serving, everyone was serving very well,” Chinnici said. “And we were also playing defense from the block and when you set up a good block, we can set up a good defense around it. So I think those three things, they were just clicking really well in the first set.”

Dallastown tied the second set at 18-18 but the Rams answered with two points and still led by two at 22-20. the Wildcats, however, took the next three and after Pennridge knotted the set at 23, Dallastown claimed consecutive points for a 25-23 win.

In the third set, the Wildcats pulled away after the Rams tied things at 10 by taking 15 of the final 21 points –c aping the 25-16 victory with a 6-1 run.



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