CLARKS SUMMIT — It was a celebration for the ages. Members of the Crestwood volleyball team jumped in the air and shouted at the top of their lungs.
In the background behind them, the Abington Heights’ faithful sat in utter disbelief – staring straight ahead with blank looks, wondering what could have been.
One hour prior, it looked like Crestwood was all but done. Then again, it’s probably not the first time someone has counted out the Comets in 2016.
Mike Williams’ squad rallied from a 2-1 deficit and used a 4-0 run to close out the fifth set as Crestwood pulled off the upset of undefeated Abington, 3-2, Wednesday in a District 2 Class 2A quarterfinal at Clarks Summit Elementary School.
Crestwood’s set scores were 25-22, 16-25, 17-25, 25-17 and 15-12.
In the other quarterfinal, Nanticoke got a solid performance from Justin Casey and needed just 54 minutes to sweep past Western Wayne 25-10, 25-17 and 25-13.
Both advance to the semifinals Tuesday at Holy Redeemer High School and will square off against each other. Regardless, both are guaranteed a spot in the PIAA 2A bracket as District 2 sends four to states.
“Before the game, I told the other coach that this game was a coin flip that I could see going five sets,” Williams said. “And what do you know? It came down to the end. Abington really took the momentum in the second and third games, and their crowd really got behind them.”
Honestly, it didn’t look good for Crestwood.
Yes, the No. 7 seed won the first set. But the Wyoming Valley Conference school had absolutely no momentum after getting dominated in the second and third sets. Crestwood was down 10 points in each at one specific point.
Yet despite the double-figure deficit, the Comets were dancing, laughing, high-fiving and fist bumping. They had a look of total confidence, like they knew they were about to make an amazing comeback.
“It was weird, but that’s the stuff that has been working for us this year,” junior Noah Jackson said. “The bench created so much energy, and honestly, it really lifted up my confidence. I just did whatever I could to help the team. You can just sense that everyone was confident. This team is always confident.”
Jackson was a big part of that.
He dominated at the net to start the fourth set. Two big blocks. Several other times, the junior caused an Abington hitter to change his swing in mid-motion. And it was that little spark that gave Crestwood a 6-0 lead to start the fourth. A 6-0 run on Noah Madrovsky’s serve gave the Comets a 16-9 edge – one they would never relinquish.
“After we won Game 4, I really felt that this could be our match,” Williams said. “I knew it would be punch for punch, and I thought the team that hit their stride at 10 might pull away. And give credit to Noah Jackson because he really stepped up in a big game. He was just able to take over in that fourth set.”
The fifth set went as expected.
A big Mendell Foreman kill. Abington’s Rob McGarry would answer. Crestwood’s Kyle Sanders responded with a middle spike. AH’s Kevin Albright answered from the outside.
The set was tied 10 times with the Lackawanna League champ holding a 12-11 lead. The 4-0 run happened in a blink of an eye. A Brady Fetterman kill. A Michael Williams one-over. An Abington attack error. A huge block on the 15th point.
Just like that, it was over for Abington.
“We were playing at a high level in Game 2 and Game 3, but unfortunately, we couldn’t keep it up in the final two games,” Abington head coach Jamie Spangler said. “We’ve been in five-set games before, and we were 2-0, so I told the kids that we were all right. I didn’t want them to feel pressure, but Crestwood is a good team. They made some plays.”
In the first game, Nanticoke was never threatened against Western Wayne. But it also wasn’t one of the best performances for the Wyoming Valley Conference runner-up.
“We didn’t look like ourselves at all,” Nanticoke Area head coach Debbie Gavin said.
The Trojans used a huge run on Brent Piontkowski’s serve to break open the first set – one where Nanticoke scored 18 of the final 23 points.
Nanticoke used a 10-1 run in the middle of the second set to grab a nine-point edge, and strung together another long spurt, 16-4, in the third to rally back from an early, 5-0 deficit.
“I didn’t sense any nerves. I just think we were off,” Gavin said. “We didn’t have a good practice on Tuesday, and it just continued into this match. We just didn’t click, and the chemistry wasn’t there.”
Piontkowski led all attackers with 11 kills as the Trojans limited Western Wayne to just 10 spikes in the match.
“We were just trying to get back to normal because we definitely were not in sync at all,” said setter Eddie Lukowski, who finished with 20 assists. “We have a week of practice ahead of us to get that chemistry back, and get ready for the semifinals. We want to get to the finals. This year, we got a good draw that Redeemer isn’t on our side of the bracket. But it is the playoffs, and anything can happen.”
Holy Redeemer 3,
Blue Ridge 0
John Carr had 10 kills, two blocks and 20 points, while Nick James recorded 24 assists, two digs and 13 points as the top-seeded Royals swept Blue Ridge 25-3. 25-13. 25-9.
Rob Zbierski finished with nine kills and three blocks and Chris Mennig chipped in with six kills, one block and 14 service points.
Western Wayne 0
W. Wayne ‘10`17`13 – 0
Nanticoke `25`25`25 – 3
WW leaders: Colin Howe 3 kills, Tyler Atcavage 2 kills.
Nanticoke leaders: Brent Piontkowski 11 kills; Justin Casey 7 kills, 3 blocks; Eddie Lukowski 20 assists, 2 kills, 1 ace.
Crestwood 3, Abington Hts. 2
Crestwood `25`16`17`25`15 – 3
AH `22`25`25`17`12 – 2
Crestwood leaders: Mendell Foreman 15 kills; Kyle Sanders 11 kills, Noah Jackson 10 kills, 6 blocks; Michael Williams 39 assists, 3 kills, 2 aces.
Abington leaders: Rob McGarry 11 kills; Kevin Albright 8 kills; Sean Salmon 28 assists, 1 kill, 1 ace.