The Morning Call (Sunday)

Bethlehem Catholic beats John Paul II; Parkland sweeps Delaware Valley

- By Dante Terenzio Dante Terenzio is a freelance writer.

The Bethlehem Catholic girls volleyball team fired on all cylinders early in its PI AA Class 3 Aquarter final.

Facing traditiona­l power and host Pope John Paul II, the Golden Hawks appeared primed for a run away victory. But then the tides turned drasticall­y, as the District 1 champion Golden Panthers clawed their wayback.

The Golden Hawks saw a two-set lead evaporate and were nearly pushed to a fifth set, but they stood their ground.

Witha3-1[25-6,25-23,20-25,25-23]win on Saturday afternoon, Bethlehem Catholic remains unbeaten and advances to the state semifinals for the first time since 2014.

“I’m excited, I’m shaky, I’m thrilled,” Bethlehem Catholic coach Kelly Brown said. “We served aggressive and didn’t let the ball hit the ground.”

While MacKenzy Ruggiero, who finished with 12 kills and 13 digs, once again sparked Becahi, teammate Rileigh Cummings registered arguably her biggest performanc­e of the season.

Cummings is slightly smaller than the average hitter, but she hits the ball with booming authority. The energetic senior came up big for her team in crucial moments, finishing with 11 kills and 10 digs.

“I’m just so proud of our team. Even when we were at our lowest moments, we pulled together,” Cummings said. “The first two games were the best we’ve played all year, but we knew if it went five, anything could happen. The hard work has paid off. It’s a great day to be a Golden Hawk.”

In a fourth set that saw several lead changes, Becahi found itself down 23-20 and on the verge of a fifth set. Kyleigh Brown, the younger sister of Coach Brown an date am captain, kept the Golden Hawks calm and collected.

“I just kept repeating ‘relax, relax.’ We were spastic at times and I knew I had to remind the team to regroup,” Kyleigh Brown said. “We always remind each other of what got us here.”

Brown’s impressive defensive effort of 23 digs helped pushed Becahi through in pressure moments late in the match. The Golden Hawks scored five points in a row to close out the match.

Be ca hi setter Emma Ma ski ell turned in another solid performanc­e with 32 assists and seven digs, while Jodi Hewitt also contribute­d on offense with seven kills.

The Golden Hawks (16-0) will play their semifinal on Tuesday against District 3 champion York Suburban at a site and time to be determined.

Class 4A

Parkland adjusted early against an athletic and energetic Delaware Valley squad, eventually running away with a 25-18, 25-10, 25-12 win in the PIAA Class 4 Aquarter finals.

The Trojans found themselves in an early hole against the Warriors, down 13-11 in the first set. One brief timeout, and there st is history. Parkland went on a 14-5r unto close out the set and from there, never looked back.

“We knew [Delaware Valley] played a little different, a little slower than we are used to ,” Park land coach Mike Krause said. “They’re a nontraditi­onal team and they play hard. They almost had us in panic mode, but we went back to base defense and settled down.”

Offensivel­y, Parkland’ s Brynn D re is bach led all hitters with 15 kills, while teammate Scarlett Jago was close behind with 14. Sydney Esquieres and Elena Pursell combined for 10 kills. Jackie Malitzki assisted on 37 kills.

Next up for the Trojans is Tuesday’s semifinals against powerful District 1 champion Unionville at a site and time to be determined.

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