Ex­eter re­tains county crown

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

SHILLING­TON >> It was the matchup ev­ery­one ex­pected to see. In the end, that didn’t even mat­ter. It was sim­ply an­other night at the court of­fice for the Ex­eter Ea­gles.

Ex­eter de­fended its BCIAA girls’ volleyball ti­tle Tues­day evening with a 3-0 win over Berks Catholic in the league cham­pi­onship match, held at Gov­er­nor Mif­flin In­ter­me­di­ate School.

The Ea­gles de­feated the Saints by scores of 25-21, 25-14 and 25-22 to run their record to 16-0 over­all and with it, keep alive a sea­son­long streak of not drop­ping a sin­gle game — a mark that reached 48-0, with a county cham­pi­onship tro­phy in tow.

Vet­eran Ex­eter head coach Ja­son Grove was non-com­mit­tal when asked where this edi­tion of Ea­gles ranks on his coach­ing re­sume, but it’s hard to deny that those dom­i­nat­ing num­bers don’t oc­cupy a high place in the pan­theon.

“This team is cer­tainly up there with the best,” Grove said. “We cer­tainly weren’t at the top our game to­day but in matches like this it doesn’t mat­ter. You just need to play well enough to win and we did that.”

Berks Catholic (14-3), much like Ex­eter in Sec­tion 1, won its Sec­tion 2 race hand­ily and steam­rolled into the league fi­nals. De­spite a spir­ited ef­fort, the Saints could not with­stand Ex­eter’s runs, pow­ered by the dy­namic duo of Drew Kofke and Abby Camp­bell. Kofke had 14 kills; Camp­bell 13 kills and four digs.

The Saints got out to leads of 12-8 and 16-9 in the first set and cer­tainly looked the part of streak-break­ers, if not county cham­pi­ons. But BC could not hold off what felt like an in­evitable surge that saw Ex­eter win 12 of 16 points late to seize con­trol of the open­ing game.

“In that first set we were all out of sorts,” Grove said, “but I’m proud of how they ral­lied and kept it to­gether. Berks Catholic, to their credit, never stopped fight­ing.”

BC third-year head coach Jus­tine Heffner knew what her Saints were up against.

“We had our mo­ments to win,” Heffner said, “and while I be­lieve any team can be beaten on any given day, Ex­eter is one of those teams that never die. They’re div­ing ev­ery­where, left and right. You think you have a kill, then some­one is go­ing to the wall to get the ball.

“They’re the team you want to play, be­cause they’re go­ing to make you bet­ter. It was a re­ally great match for us to get ready for dis­tricts. Maybe we’ll go home sad tonight, but we’ll look at how much play­ing a team like this will help us in dis­tricts. … I felt like we did a good job of per­se­ver­ing. Maybe it wasn’t enough, but we pushed ‘til the end and I’m proud to be able to coach a team that wants to fight.”

Ex­eter fi­nally es­tab­lished its first lead of the match, at 21-20 late in the first set, to ward off an early hole — “we were play­ing like we were in a trance,” Grove said — and a streak-snap­per. From there, the Ea­gles put it into gear through the sec­ond set, which they won com­fort­ably by 11 to go up 2-0.

The early por­tion of the third set looked a bit like the opener, with BC grab­bing an 8-4 lead, be­fore Ex­eter kicked it up a notch and piled on again. The Ea­gles won nine of the next 14 points to wres­tle away con­trol of BC’s last stand and ride it out to a tro­phy.

“We seem to play bet­ter when we play good teams,” Kofke said of her squad’s un­flap­pable na­ture. “I knew we could do it. We started slow, we weren’t play­ing to our full po­ten­tial, but we knew we could beat them.

“We wanted to win this 3-0 to keep our per­fect sea­son go­ing.”

JEFF DE­WEES - FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

The Ex­eter girls volleyball team won the Berks County cham­pi­onship.

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