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Pennridge stays unbeaten with win over Souderton

FRANCONIA >> Pennridge remained undefeated when it rallied from a five-point deficit to win the fourth game and beat Souderton, 3-1, Tuesday night at Souderton Area High School. 

The Rams, who improved to 4-0 on the season, won the match 25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 26-14. 

The defending District 1 champs were down 22-17 late in the fourth set. A pair of Alex Derk aces got the Rams within two, 22-20. After the Indians extended their lead to 23-20, Riley Kodidek tallied back-to-back blocks to make it a 23-22 game.

“We needed to focus on going on a run with our servers back there,” Kodidek said, “but we needed to get out of our rotation first. We just put up a double-block on the pin to try to get a point back and go on a run.

“We can play better. We tend to do better at tournaments. We need to bring that level of play here to show everyone that we’re one of the best teams in the conference.”

The Suburban One League American Conference rivals traded points to put Souderton (2-3) ahead, 24-23. The Indians appeared to win the point to force a decisive fifth set, but were whistled for an infraction. Another whistle against Souderton put Pennridge ahead, 25-24, and Thomas McKinney delivered the game-winning kill to end the match.

“We’ve gone on runs,” Pennridge coach Dave Childs said. “We know we can go on runs of points. We serve tough and we block well. Knowing that, we should have been out there pretty confident that we could do it.”

“Playing against two separate opponents is tough – ourselves and Pennridge,” Souderton coach Luke Pinto said. “When you have to battle with yourself and you can’t close out games it makes it tough. It shouldn’t come down to the last two points there. We have a lot of work to do.”

Kodidek had 30 assists, five blocks, five aces and 10 digs for the Rams. Jude Rotondo added 12 kills and six digs, Tyler Johnson eight kills, five blocks and three aces, McKinney eight kills and nine digs, Nick Smith two kills and three blocks and Derk 14 digs and five aces.

Brothers Nate and Andrew Brown led Souderton’s offense with 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Andrew, a senior, added 10 digs and two blocks while Nate, a junior, had five digs and four aces. 

“They are huge,” Pinto said. “They bring the brother-challenge-system to each other where they bark at each other a little bit to motivate them. I think it’s awesome. I think it makes them better on the court and they’re a huge piece of what we’re doing and what we’re planning.”

Alec Kreiser added nine digs while Kavailya Bhatt had six digs and 23 assists.

“(Bhatt) learned how to set yesterday,” Pinto said. “I’d say that’s a pretty good job. I can’t commend my guys enough for how awesome they played. Our setter injured himself Sunday, we found out (Monday) that we had to find a kid that never set a volleyball game in his life and he did pretty well if you ask me. He did incredible. He stepped in and ran an offense that was insane.”

The teams went back-and-forth for most of the match. Other than Pennridge’s comfortable win in the third game, neither side ever led by more than five points.

Rotondo helped the Rams turn a 22-21 lead into a 25-23 win in the first game while the Indians used an 12-3 run in the second to turn a 9-5 deficit into 17-12 lead. Nate Brown had a pair of aces in the middle of the stretch and a crucial kill to put Souderton ahead, 24-21, late.

“I like to look forward rather than backwards,” Pinto said, “but I think being able to play with (Pennridge) gives our guys a bunch of confidence and I think that’s going to be key in how we shape up going forward. I’m very excited with tonight.”

Pennridge 3, Souderton 1
Pennridge 25 23 25 26

Souderton 23 25 17 24

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