Exeter repeats as BCIAA champ
Exeter’s dominance of the BCIAA is complete.
The Eagles claimed the Berks League’s top prize for a second consecutive season Tuesday night with a 3-0 defeat of Brandywine Heights in the girls’ volleyball championship match, held at Wyomissing.
Exeter (18-0) won the Berks tournament crown Tuesday in workmanlike fashion by scores of 25-16, 25-16 and 25-17.
Veteran Exeter head coach Jason Grove credited a quick start out of the gate – the Eagles scored the first seven points of the match, all on-serve by Sienna Yeager – for ensuring a relatively smooth transition to gold roughly one hour and forty minutes later.
“We got off to a perfect start,” Grove said. “Sienna came out – she said she was nervous – and couldn’t have served any better or played any better defense to start a match. Nothing alleviates nerves like a big lead in Game 1. It’s hard to be upset with anything that happened tonight. We were pretty much in control the entire match.
“Obviously this was our
goal heading into the year. Brandywine put up a great fight. They’re undersized and undermanned against us, but they played fantastic defense and they make you work for every point you get. There were no easy points.”
The Bullets, Berks Section 2 champions during the regular season, led briefly at the start of the second set but otherwise could not sustain the points drive necessary to unseat the unbeaten and favored Section 1 champs. Brandywine Heights managed to win as many as three consecutive points on a few occasions and had a 16-all stretch immediately following that early 7-0 hole, but a sustained run – the kind needed to present a serious threat – eluded the Bullets’ grasp.
Brandywine had dropped a 3-1 decision to the Eagles little more than a week ago.
Brandywine had to try and deal with Exeter’s outside hitter duo of sophomores Drew Kofke and Abby Campbell. The two were responsible 33 kills (Campbell 19, Kofke 14), utilizing height and net talent with which the generally smaller Bullets (14-4) simply could not effectively deal. The pair will likely keep Exeter anchored to success for the duration of their high school careers.
“When Abby and Drew are on, we’re going to be tough for anybody, and for long stretches they were pretty dominant,” Grove said. “And when you throw in (mid) Thressia Nixon putting on a clinic for a while, it could not have gone much better.
“Abby and Drew are rewriting our record books. We had great players a few years ago and I never thought I’d see players individually as talented as I did then. We have two now that are better, and it’s mindboggling to me.”
Bullets first-year head coach Andrea Connor: “We had taken a set from them last Monday, so we knew that they are beatable. But both Drew and Abby had very good games today and were finding the holes that we left open. Our girls have worked hard this year. They’ve shown that they’re still a force to be reckoned with. They were very happy to be division winners this year (first since 2011).”
Kofke and Campbell were not around in 2015, when Exeter was shellacked in the same gym by the Devon Merritt-led Berks Catholic Saints – the eventual league champs -- in the semifinals, falling behind 13-0 in the first set and 17-0 in the second en route to a BC sweep. Grove used that moment as reference point for how far the Exeter program has rebounded since.
“Two years ago in this gym, we played BC and got embarrassed,” Grove said. “The senior core of this team had to be out there, suffering through that.
“To see them, two years later, to see them become the first team of ours to win back-to-back (Berks) titles makes me very happy. They’ve busted their butts to get where they are and they deserve the spoils.”
Exeter celebrates after winning the BCIAA championship at Wyomissing High School on Tuesday, October 24.
Exeter poses with the trophy after winning the BCIAA championship at Wyomissing High School in Wyomissing on Tuesday, October 24.
Exeter’s Sienna Yeager receives her medal from head coach Jason Grove after the BCIAA championship at Wyomissing High School on October 24.
Exeter’s Drew Kofke hits the ball past Brandywine’s Natalie Maston during the BCIAA championship at Wyomissing High School on Tuesday, October 24.