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Exeter’s perfect season comes to an end in the PIAA Class 2A boys volleyball semifinals

Exeter came into Tuesday’s PIAA Class 2A semifinal matchup against Manheim Central at Cocalico with a flawless record and had not lost a single set all season.

That all changed quickly, as the Eagles dropped the night’s first set 23-25. Exeter put together two quality sets before the Baron’s won the fourth and fifth set to win the match 3-2.

With the win, Manheim Central punched their ticket to Penn State University on Saturday to compete for the Class 2A title against Meadville.

The Eagles lost by game scores of 23-25, 25-23, 25-20, 21-25 and 14-16.

Just 11 days ago on May 30, Exeter (23-1) earned a three-set win against Manheim Central (18-1) in the District 3 championship.

This time the Barons got the best of the Eagles and ended their historic season.

Similar to the last time these two teams matched up, Exeter started slow.

“Sometimes in those big games it takes a little time to get into a rhythm and we just came out a little slow,” Exeter coach Matt Hadley said. “We got to give them (Barons) credit. They served up and made the right plays.”

In the first set, both teams were tied at 22 apiece. The Barons scored twice before Exeter earned a key point to keep the match alive. However, a serve that hit the net ended the set.

Faced with a deficit the Eagles had not been in all season, they responded with ease and won the second and third sets.

“We made adjustments in the second and third set,” Hadley said. “They came out in the fourth and fifth set. It was a good match back and forth and could have went either way.”

The third set ended with a Gaige Gabriel kill as the Eagles were one set away from earning their first state championship appearance since 2007.

The Barons led for much of the fourth set before they closed it out on a 3-0 run to force a critical fifth set.

The momentum carried into the fifth, as Manheim jumped out to a 5-2 lead. Exeter then rattled off four straight points to regain the lead.

The Eagles led 13-10 with the win in their grasp, but then the Barons went on a 4-0 run.

After tying the game at 14 points apiece, the Barons put the Eagles to rest by scoring two consecutive points for the win.

“All we needed was to put a ball away and in that moment, we just couldn’t,” Hadley said of the fifth set. “Have to give them (Barons) credit to keep battling and fighting. They played well and got the win.”

For the Eagles, Gabriel had 25 kills, seven digs, one assist, and one ace, Chase Nugent had 15 kills, six digs, two assists, and one ace, and Jack Forry had two kills, 13 digs, and 48 assists.

Exeter had won 69 consecutive sets, not including tournament matches, before entering the semifinal on Tuesday.

This season, the Eagles won their second straight Berks County title along with their first District 3 championship since 2007.

“Just to be proud,” Hadley said on what he told his team post-game. “They played well all season. It’s been a great season for them. Unfortunate the way it ended but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. They’ve had an incredible career, great for the program and just to be proud of what they accomplished.”

Exeter will graduate seven seniors that include Gaige Gabriel, Chase Nugent, Jack Forry, Dylan Baisch, TJ Gibb, Robert Dang and Reece Garvin.

“It’s a good group of kids,” Hadley said of his team. “A bunch of good seniors and leaders. They’ve done a lot for the program.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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