Berks Catholic advances to District 3-AA final with 3-1 victory over Susquehannock

LANDISVILLE>> There are a lot of volleyball teams that don’t have an answer for Devon Merritt.

Add Susquehannock to that list.

Merritt, the 6-foot-2 Berks Catholic senior who is headed to James Madison University on a basketball scholarship next year — racked up 32 kills, 11 blocks and 10 digs to help lead the Saints to a 3-1 victory over Susquehannock Thursday night in a District 3 Class AA semifinal match, held at Hempfield High School. Sets scores were 25-23, 21-25, 25-13 and 25-21.

The Berks County champs and D-3 finalists will square off against Delone Catholic for the title Saturday at 5 p.m., in Dallastown. The Squirettes swept York-Adams rival York Suburban 3-0 in their semifinal encounter.

Merritt dominated net play all evening. Setter Oliva Blankenbiller was on-point all night, setting Merritt up for the kills by piling up 45 assists; defensively the Warriors could get little past Merritt when they attempted to return the favor.

Merritt’s 32nd and final kill, a thunderous spike, ended the match.

“It was a really big game. We want to win districts and we’re fighting to get there,” Merritt said. “We’re a very competitive team, especially me as a two-sport athlete, and we are trained to win.”

Berks Catholic head coach Rick Fidler marveled at his star’s performance Thursday night against a very good Susquehannock squad, which won a set and stayed within striking distance in two others.

“Devon’s probably the best all-around player I’ve coached,” Fidler, who coached at Holy Name for 20 seasons prior to taking the reins for the new Berks Catholic following the 2011 merger with Reading Central Catholic. “She’s really athletic.

“I’ve coached many good players who have scored this many kills in a match, but Devon’s just so quick and so athletic. It’s one of the things that makes her so exceptional.”

Merritt was a force in the crucial third set, with the match tied at 1. She closed out four of the final points at the net, either with kills or blocks, for a definitive 12-point win.

The Saints did not roll over the Warriors, however.

Susquehannock found some footing late in a first set that looked lopsided for while (Berks Catholic led 21-12 before hanging on for a two-point win) and carried that fine run of play into the second set. The Warriors overcame a five-point deficit, at 12-7, to carry 18 of the final 27 points contested during the frame.

Focus — it’s something Merritt knows her club needs to be razor-sharp with at Saturday’s title bout with Delone.

“Sometimes we’ll go through these rough patches and they’ll get a run of five points or more,” she said. “A really good team pushes through those hard spots. We dropped a set, which we don’t usually do. But I thought we were really good pushing through it.”


District 3 Class AA semifinal

at Hempfield

Susquehannock –  23  25  13  21 — 1

Berks Catholic –  25  21  25  25 — 3


BC, Devon Merrit 32; S, Laura Savin 21


BC,  Lexi Leddy 21; S, Karah Sweitzer 28


BC,  Olivia Blankenbiller 45; S, Kelly Frantz 42


BC,  Merritt 11; S, Gabee Ogude 2

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