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Pennsbury ends Boyertown’s run in district playoffs

BOYERTOWN >> It certainly overachieved in its second year of varsity-level play.

The achievement fell short of an extended run through the District 1 playoffs, ended Thursday in a 3-0 loss to Pennsbury. But that doesn’t diminish Boyertown’s effort or accomplishments this fall.

“It was a great season,” head coach Mike Ludwig said after his girls closed out their 18-5 campaign with the loss in the second round of the 1-4A playoffs. “Our first division title, our first trip to districts … I couldn’t be more proud. We grew as a team and as individuals.”

To its credit, Boyertown played the 10th-seeded Falcons tight in the first two sets. The seventh-seeded Bears extended their guests to 27-25 and 28-26 verdicts before Pennsbury took the third set, 25-17.

“In the quarterfinal round of districts, you’re talking about good teams,” Ludwig said. “Tonight, it came down to the first two sets we battled, but we couldn’t make the final play. In the third, we came back, but not enough.”

The opening set saw Boyertown come back from deficits of three and four points to grab a 23-21 lead. But Pennsbury (17-4) won five of the last eight points to take charge of the match.

In the second set, the Bears started out winning the first three points before the Falcons went on a six-point run to take a 13-7 lead. They finished up with a 4-1 run to go up 2-0.

The third set was marked by Pennsbury opening a 6-2 lead, then going on a 5-1 surge at the end. It now looks at becoming one of five District 1 teams qualifying for state-level play … no small feat, given the Falcons’ youthful stature.

“We have only two returning starters,” head coach Michael Falter noted, “and they’re both sophomores. The only district experience we have is Tuesday (3-0 win over North Penn). So we’re fairly green.”

Boyertown, with seniors Leah Black, Taylor Jones and Olivia Hurley in the main mix, meshed with underclassmen like Emily Wolfe, Savannah Derstine, Julia Smith, Emma Ludwig and Adrianna Derstine to go 11-2 and finish first in the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s Liberty Division this fall. The Bears were swept by Pope John Paul II in the first round of the PAC Final Four playoffs, but their high district seed earned them a first-round bye.

Against Pennsbury, Jones had a solid statistical game with 11 kills, 10 digs and nine assists. Ludwig chipped in with 17 assists, seven kills and eight digs, Smith added 18 digs, Wolfe had eight kills and Savannah Derstine came up with seven digs.

“We had tough matches all year,” Ludwig recalled. “In most of the matches, we were able to make final plays. But tonight, we couldn’t get over the hump.

“They set a standard of excellence. I told the girls they could have won five more matches, and I wouldn’t have been any more prouder of them than I am now. I’m proud of the group and what it accomplished.”

NOTES >> Falter on a key to Pennsbury’s success: “The girls followed the game plan well. We have six girls who work hard.”

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