PJP falls to Bethlehem Catholic in four sets

MUHLENBERG — Jordan Young finished with 18 kills and Jessica Attieh had 17 of her own as Bethlehem Catholic topped Pope John Paul II, 3-1, Saturday afternoon at Muhlenberg High School in the PIAA-AA girls volleyball quarterfinals.

The loss marks the second consecutive season the Golden Panthers have been bounced in the state quarters.

Set scores were 25-19, 13-23, 22-25 and 18-25.

The win propels Bethlehem Catholic to the PIAA-AA semifinals, where it will face Berks Catholic, a 3-0 victor over Holy Redeemer, Tuesday at a time and place to be determined.

“We didn’t want to lose here but it’s not like we had a bad season,’ PJP head coach Ryan Sell said. “This was our first loss of the year. Yeah sure it stinks it’s now, but there weren’t too many teams who could say they were 19-0 coming into this game. There were only eight teams in our class left playing. That’s pretty dang good in my opinion.’

Nicole Dorman highlighted the Golden Panthers’ play at the net, registering 20 kills and a .386 hitting percentage. Grace Dawson was equally as effective for PJP, registering 41 assists.

But the Young and Attieh combination proved too much for the Golden Panthers. Young, a junior, had five of her 18 kills in the third set as the team overcame an early 9-1 deficit. Attieh registered three kills in the fourth and final set, helping Bethlehem Catholic open up a 23-17 lead after trailing 10-7.

“That’s who you have to stop,’ Sell said. “We knew that coming in. We just didn’t have much of an answer for that. They didn’t make too many hitting errors, Jessica Attieh and Jordan Young were too good for us today.

“When you can just throw the ball outside like that and have two kids bang away at it, it’s tough to defend.’

Senior Morgan Keim finished the game with 13 digs while fellow upperclassman Lauren Beige finished with a team-high five blocks.

“It’s got to be a complete package,’ Bethlehem Catholic head coach Boulos (Paul) Abi-Daher said. “As good as they are outside, we still can’t win without a full team effort.’

The Golden Panthers did their best containing the duo in the first set, climbing out to a 9-4 lead behind three kills from Kelly Tornetta and a service ace from Dorman, before the two provided kills at the end of the set to stake PJP to the 1-0 lead.

But after falling handily in the second set, PJP couldn’t sustain its leads, losing a 9-1 advantage in the third set before seeing a 12-8 lead evaporate in the fourth set behind the strong play of Attieh and Young.

And while the Golden Panthers suffered their first loss of the year, Sell and company had nothing to be ashamed of.

In Sell’s three seasons at the helm, the Golden Panthers have claimed three District 1-AA titles and have advanced to at least the PIAA-AA quarterfinals in each of those seasons — a feat that Sell contributes to the leadership of his senior class consisting of Dawson, Alexa Difilippo, Tornetta and Dorman, among others.

“Our senior class since I’ve been here have lost three matches. Three district titles; they’re a bunch of good kids.’

“I’m so proud of the team,’ Tornetta said. “None of us could be the same without each of our girls. Hopefully next year we will continue it. I have faith in our underclassmen and our future seniors that they can continue to be a successful team.’

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