HARRISBURG — Earlier in the season at the Hempfield Tournament, Exeter won two matches against Lower Dauphin.
That would not be the case this time.
The Eagles suffered their first loss of the season, falling 3-0 to the Falcons in Thursday’s District 3 Class 2A boys volleyball championship match.
Top-seeded Lower Dauphin (19-0), ranked second in the state in Class 2A by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association, won by game scores of 28-26, 25-17 and 25-20.
“They serve really tough and our passing broke down a little bit,” said Exeter coach Matt Hadley, whose team is ranked third in the state. “We battled; we fought. They were serving tough tonight and it took us out of what we wanted to do. So, give them credit. We battled and we still got a lot of play left.”
After a slow start in the first set, the second-seeded Eagles (20-1), who were down 8-4, got into a rhythm.
The teams went back and forth scoring throughout the first set. Exeter trailed 20-18 but went on a 5-2 run to take a 23-22 lead before Lower Dauphin won it.
“We had a ton of errors in that first set and we told them that if we would clean up those errors, we thought we’d come out and take that second set,” Hadley said.
However, the Falcons dominated much of the second set, winning by eight.
The Eagles have been in this position before. They dropped the first two sets in the semifinal match against Manheim Central on Tuesday, but they were not able to mount a comeback this time.
Exeter not lead at all in the third set.
Hadley said Lower Dauphin made a lineup change from the first time the teams met.
“They were running a 6-2 earlier in the year, then went to 5-1 and they just executed,” he said. “They did what they had to do. It’s not that we didn’t execute. They were serving tough and if you’re not passing well it’s hard to run an offense.”
For the Eagles, Chase Nugent had nine kills, four digs, and one block; Gaige Gabriel had seven kills and five aces; Todd Gibb had five kills and three blocks; and Jack Forry had 22 assists.
Exeter, which already had qualified for the PIAA Tournament, will open states against the District 12 champion on Tuesday, opponent, site and time to be announced. Obviously, the Eagles still have much to play for.
“You always learn from losing experiences,” Hadley said. “We talked about that. We still have a lot of volleyball left to be played. They should keep their heads up because I still think if we play like we can play we can make a deep run in states.”
Source: Berkshire mont