DALLAS TWP. – There was a point where Game Three was essentially lost and the rest of the game was simply about getting ready to make Game Four a success.
The Abington Heights boys volleyball team accomplished that task May 24, using the fourth game to clinch a victory and District 2’s third and final berth in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 2A state tournament.
The third game got so rocky for the Comets that they were outscored overall for the match, but managed to defeat Blue Ridge, 25-23, 25-21, 9-25, 25-19, at Dallas Area High School.
“Third game, they had some great plays,” said Evan Florey, who finished with 22 kills, 16 digs, two aces and a block for the Comets. “They weren’t letting the ball touch the ground. We couldn’t gain any momentum. Our whole mindset throughout that was, we’re looking for the next set. We’re just getting our minds set to take the next one.
“That’s what we did. We came out and put the next one away.”
Matt Pacyna had 37 assists, three kills and three blocks in the win. James Kazmierski added eight kills and eight digs while Trevor Gabura added 25 digs, three assists and two aces.
After winning Game Three, Blue Ridge opened three leads of two points early in Game Four.
“We lost focus a little bit,” Abington Heights coach Jamie Spangler said. “It was like we were kind of planning our trip already.”
Florey got the momentum headed the right way with two kills in a span of three points, then helped Abington Heights pull away for good.
After Blue Ridge closed within a point for the final time, Florey had a block and a kill for consecutive points to make it 19-16. His spike from the left side made it into the back right corner for a 21-17 lead.
The Raiders were unable to recover and the Lackawanna League champion Comets advanced into state play.
“This is huge,” Florey said. “It’s the first time in our program’s history. It’s great to be a part of it.”
Florey had joined Pacyna to help close out Game Two and put Abington Heights in command. The Comets pulled away from an 18-15 game with Pacyna setting up three late kills by Florey, plus adding a block and placing another shot to finish off two points himself.
Abington Heights played the third-place match without starter James McGrail because of an illness.
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