Berwick outlasts Abington Heights in Class 2A boys volleyball semifinals

By Robert Tomkavage - rtomkavage@timesleader.com
Abington Heights senior captain Evan Florey digs deep to bump up the ball against Berwick at Holy Redeemer gym. - Tony Callaio | For Abington Journal
Abington Heights senior James Kazmierski (No. 10) smashes the ball past two Berwick defenders. - Tony Callaio | For Abington Journal
Evan Florey (No. 3) finds a crease and get the ball past two Berwick defenders. - Tony Callaio | For Abington Journal
Abington Heights outside hitter James McGrail serves against Berwick. The Comets fell to the Bulldogs in five games, ending their season. - - Tony Callaio | For Abington Journal

WILKES-BARRE — Abington Heights seemed to have taken control, after a slow start, but Berwick finished with a flurry to claim a 3-2 victory over the Comets in a District 2 Class 2A boys volleyball semifinal game Tuesday evening at Holy Redeemer High School.

The third-seeded Bulldogs (11-3) defeated the second-seeded Comets (12-2) by a combined 14 points in the final two sets to seal the win.

“I think we lost a little focus and got a little lackadaisical with our serve receive,” Abington Heights head coach Jamie Spangler said. “It was a tough one and it could have gone either way, but we just lost control a little bit.”

The teams traded points throughout most of the first set, but Berwick walked away with a 25-21 win to take the early advantage.

Bulldogs junior outside hitter Zach Evans, who finished with 11 kills and 20 digs, had six kills during the set, including the clincher.

Abington Heights evened the match with a 25-20 win in the second set. Berwick led 16-13 before the Comets scored 12 of the next 16 points.

Junior setter Matt Pacyna, who finished with 47 assists, 5 kills, 14 digs, 3 blocks, had 14 assists in the set, including seven to junior outside hitter James McGrail. Senior outside hitter Joe Norce, who finished with 18 digs and 14 kills, had four kills in the set for Berwick.

McGrail, who finished with 21 digs, 20 kills and four aces, rattled off 11 consecutive service points as part of a 12-1 Abington Heights run to start the third set. The Comets won the set, 25-20, to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

“His serving has definitely gotten better as the season went on,” Spangler said. “That was easily his best run all year.”

Senior outside hitter Evan Florey, who finished with 25 digs, 22 kills and one block, had five kills during the third set.

“We were staying positive mentally and staying confident in ourselves,” Spangler said. “We were getting some good swings.”

Berwick took the fourth set, 25-15, forcing a fifth and deciding set.

Junior setter Santiago Segura, who finished with 37 assists, 18 service points, 18 digs, six aces, and two blocks, three aces during the fourth for the Bulldogs.

“He works so hard and helps us in a number of different ways, not just setting our offense,” Berwick head coach Sarah Warner said. “He’s a vocal leader and he can block well. I think people are surprised by that because he’s smaller, but you can’t sneak one by him.”

Sophomore middle blocker Nick Norse, who finished with 10 kills and two blocks, had three kills to help Berwick claim a 15-11 win in the final set. Segura had a block and ace for the Bulldogs’ last two points.

Warner was proud of the way her team bounced back after facing some adversity in the match.

“We struggled in a number of different ways and I think we lost faith in ourselves,” she said. “I was extremely vocal and energetic on the sideline, trying to get my team rallied around each other because I think they needed to believe in themselves again.

”We changed our lineup yesterday and once they found their niche, we were able to run on all cylinders.”

Abington Heights, who beat North Pocono, 3-0, in the quarterfinals May 16 will play fourth-seeded Blue Ridge (10-4) in the third-place game at 5 p.m. Thursday at Dallas High School. The winner will earn a berth in the state tournament.

“I keep telling them to stay loose and have fun,” Spangler said.

Berwick will play top-seeded Holy Redeemer (14-0) for the district championship Thursday at Dallas, following the first game.

Abington Heights senior captain Evan Florey digs deep to bump up the ball against Berwick at Holy Redeemer gym.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Volleyball1.jpgAbington Heights senior captain Evan Florey digs deep to bump up the ball against Berwick at Holy Redeemer gym. Tony Callaio | For Abington Journal

Abington Heights senior James Kazmierski (No. 10) smashes the ball past two Berwick defenders.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Volleyball2.jpgAbington Heights senior James Kazmierski (No. 10) smashes the ball past two Berwick defenders. Tony Callaio | For Abington Journal

Evan Florey (No. 3) finds a crease and get the ball past two Berwick defenders.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Volleyball3.jpgEvan Florey (No. 3) finds a crease and get the ball past two Berwick defenders. Tony Callaio | For Abington Journal

Abington Heights outside hitter James McGrail serves against Berwick. The Comets fell to the Bulldogs in five games, ending their season.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Volleyball4.jpgAbington Heights outside hitter James McGrail serves against Berwick. The Comets fell to the Bulldogs in five games, ending their season. Tony Callaio | For Abington Journal

By Robert Tomkavage

rtomkavage@timesleader.com

Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.

Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.