Dock Mennonite battles past Pennridge to stay unbeaten

EAST ROCKHILL >> Dock Mennonite brought superior blocking and a boisterous cheering section to its most emotionally-charged victory of the season.

The Pioneers locked down a 3-1 win over area rival Pennridge in a clash of District One titans Friday night.

“It was a good way to end it,” senior Libero Trey Leatherman said of the fourth set. “We got a couple nice blocks and kept our serves in…It’s gonna feel really good to come off this win.”

And in a season filled with nothing but wins — the Pioneers improved to a perfect 18-0, this one stood out.

Particularly because of Dock’s resolve.

Said coach Kirby King: “We’ve had a couple times this season where we’ve been stuck. And they just keep fighting. They don’t let that ‘stuck’ stay ‘stuck.’ They just play and they just want it.”

Added Leatherman: “The crowd was awesome here tonight and it really helped us pull out that last set.”

Senior Trey Leatherman had seven digs in Dock’s win over Pennridge. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

The Pioneers fell 28-26 in an epic first set, then took firm control with 25-21 and 25-20 victories in Games Two and Three. Dock then rallied back from a 7-2 hole early and deficits throughout to win 25-22 and send its fans into a frenzy.

“We fought back in that Game Four, which was just determination,” King said. “They just wanted it. They went out there and they started digging better and blocking better.”

Leatherman had seven digs and outside hitter Anthony Bernardo had eight on a big night for the defense.

The Pioneers racked up 14 stuff blocks.

“The key is defense,” King said. “The guys stepped up and made some big digs, some big saves. And even when we didn’t win the whole rally, we kept the ball alive long enough to make (Pennridge) think: oh shoot, they got it up.

“That was just fun.”

Outside hitter Sean Gillespie had 15 kills and Bernardo added 12 for the Pioneers. It wasn’t only a matchup of two of the area’s best but also a battle between friends — King and Dave Childs of Pennridge coach club together.

“It was club vs. club right here so it was kind of fun that way too,” said King. “In club, you’re never full strength. So we were both full strength right here and it was fun to play. It was the match we expected.

“Pennridge’s serving was really tough. They had some of the toughest serving we faced this year. Even their float serves were really tough. So that’s good for our guys certainly. We’re gonna get that if we keep going.”

Dock, tops in District 1-2A, travels to Pennsbury Monday. Pennridge (12-3), second in District 1-3A, is at Souderton Area on Tuesday.

Pennridge coach Dave Childs talks to his squad during its battle with Dock. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

Evan Jalosinski (44 assists, two aces), Bryce Ammon (12 kills, three blocks, two aces), Just Rotondo (12 kills, six digs, two aces) and Thomas McKinney (10 kills, six digs, three blocks) all were major contributors for Pennridge.

“They’re the best blocking team we’ve seen,” Childs said of Dock. “I think that was the difference. We played well for what they did to us. They blocked us and we came right back and kept swinging.

“I think what we take away from this is that we can play with anybody in the state. Dock’s a phenomenal team and we went swing for swing.”

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