Ex­eter re­peats as BCIAA champ

The Southern Berks News - - FRONT PAGE - By Jeff De­wees

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.”

KIRK NEIDERMYER - FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ex­eter cel­e­brates after win­ning the BCIAA cham­pi­onship at Wy­omiss­ing High School on Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 24.

KIRK NEIDERMYER - FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Ex­eter poses with the tro­phy after win­ning the BCIAA cham­pi­onship at Wy­omiss­ing High School in Wy­omiss­ing on Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 24.

KIRK NEIDERMYER - FOR DFM

Ex­eter’s Si­enna Yea­ger re­ceives her medal from head coach Ja­son Grove after the BCIAA cham­pi­onship at Wy­omiss­ing High School on Oc­to­ber 24.

KIRK NEIDERMYER - FOR DFM

Ex­eter’s Drew Kofke hits the ball past Brandy­wine’s Natalie Mas­ton dur­ing the BCIAA cham­pi­onship at Wy­omiss­ing High School on Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 24.

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