Exeter was still smarting Thursday night from its Berks League semifinal loss to Wilson last week.
The Eagles refused to let the Bulldogs come into their gym again and win, this time in the first round of the District 3 Class 3A boys volleyball playoffs.
Trailing by as many as five points, fifth-seeded Exeter rallied to take the fourth set and seal a 3-1 (21-25, 25-21, 25-23, 26-24) victory over 12th-seeded Wilson at Reiffton.
“I know last week’s loss stung,” Eagles coach Matt Hadley said. “It still stings for them. But after one day, you move on. We knew we were going to get a chance. This was another game for us to come out, get better and show people who we are.”
Exeter (14-2) advanced to the quarterfinals and will play fourth-seeded Warwick, a 3-0 winner over Carlisle, at 11 a.m. Saturday at Lititz. Wilson finished its season 11-8.
For the Eagles, Gaige Gabriel had 24 kills and five digs, Chase Nugent had 16 kills, 10 digs and four aces, Logan Reber had 57 assists and 10 digs, James Ganster had 11 kills and two blocks, Aidan Long had 32 digs and Kellen Boyer had six kills and three digs.
“They started making their serves in the fourth set and made us play a little more,” Bulldogs coach Andrew Olree said. “We made a couple errors. I knew it was going to be a hard match. They wanted it. We wanted it.”
Exeter made late plays in each set they won. In the second set, the Eagles led 22-21 before Gabriel drilled an assist from Reber, Boyer served an ace and Gabriel made a block to seal it.
In the third set, Exeter led 21-16 before Wilson’s Eric Makosch tied it 22-22 with a tip. Exeter answered with kills from Ganster and Nugent before winning the set on a service error.
The Bulldogs took control of the fourth set by going on a 7-1 run and grabbing a 15-10 lead. They led 20-15 before the Eagles scored five of the next six points to trim the deficit to 21-20.
It was 22-21 when Exeter committed two straight errors, putting Wilson within one point of forcing a fifth set.
But Nugent and Ganster responded with kills to cut it to 24-23. Then the teams played the longest point of the night. It finally ended on a Ganster kill after some sensational defense by Nugent and Reber.
“It was awesome volleyball to watch,” Hadley said. “Both teams were battling back and forth and making great plays and scrappy plays. Neither team wanted the ball to drop, and that’s what good teams do. Good teams find a way to win those points and luckily we did.”
Aidan Hunter had 10 kills and four blocks for the Bulldogs, Eric Makosch had eight kills and 18 digs, Eric DelPizzo had 32 assists and Luca Marchio had 22 digs.
“It still hurts a little bit that we didn’t get the county chip (championship) that we all wanted,” Gabriel said. “The job isn’t done. We still have Warwick on Saturday and the next round after that. We want to keep playing.”
Source: Berkshire mont