Following a close loss in last week’s subregional final, Bethlehem Catholic went back to the drawing board.
What the Golden Hawks came up with prior to Tuesday’s PIAA Class 2A match was a vibrant, fast-paced offensive attack.
Paced by juniors Nick Greenawalt and Brent Brown, the Hawks knocked off District 3 third-place finisher Lower Dauphin 3-1 [25-22, 20-25, 25-18, 25-21] as part of a doubleheader at Catasauqua High School.
Earlier in the evening, District 11 Class 3A champion Whitehall made short work of District 12 runner-up Central 3-0 [25-7, 25-4, 25-11].
The Hawks and Falcons played a close first set, as the score was deadlocked on 14 different occasions. It wasn’t until Becahi built a 22-21 lead before Greenawalt took off. The outside hitter put down three-straight kills at the end of the set to give his team the lead.
Lower Dauphin held the lead all the way through the second to knot the score at one set apiece.
Brown went to work in the third set with precise passes and, what he calls, a sneaky “get-back.” The setter finished the match with 46 assists.
Becahi raised its level of defense and maintained a steady offense to win the next two sets, and the match.
Jacob Sledz (24 digs) and Dylan Zambo (10 kills) were also heavy contributors for Becahi.
Next up for the Golden Hawks is Saturday’s quarterfinals where they will face District 7 champion Ambridge, a five-set winner over District 10 runner-up Saegertown.
Also in 2A, District 3 fourth-place finisher Brandywine Heights saw a solid season come to a close at the hands of District 2 champion Holy Redeemer. The Royals eked out a close four-setter over the Bullets, 27-25, 23-25, 28-26, 25-18.
Whitehall knew it was a heavy favorite in its PIAA Class 3A first-round matchup against Central, the District 12 runner-up.
But the Zephyrs’ intensity remained at a high level en route to a straight-set [25-7, 25-4, 25-11] thrashing of the Lancers.
In a match that lasted under an hour, Whitehall relied on its big-name players before pulling out its starters halfway through the third.
Joseph Herman finished with 15 kills, while Aziz Atiyeh had 17 digs, and Ricky Melosky chipped in with 22 assists.
“We approached it as if it were any other match,” the senior libero said. “Everyone has a job to do, and I didn’t want to overdo my job. This year has truly been amazing and I’m having a lot of fun. We’ve been working four years for this, and we will continue to do so. We know things are going to get tougher from here.”
The most impressive stat of the night was Melosky’s run at the service line in the third set. The senior setter pounded out 12-straight points to open the set, and finished the match with a whopping nine aces.
Up 12-0 in the third set, Whitehall coach George Cowitch showed great sportsmanship and substituted for Melosky at the service line.
In Saturday’s quarterfinals, the Zephyrs will take on District 3 runner-up Northeastern, a five-set winner over District One champion Central Bucks East.
Also in 3A, Parkland fell in the first round to traditional power and defending state semifinalist Central York.
The District 3 champion won in straight-sets [25-17, 25-16, 25-20] over the Trojans, who end their season with a record of 16-6.
“Overall the season was great. The seniors left their mark on the program, leading the younger guys back into the District 11 final and state tournament,” Parkland coach Scott Trumbauer said. “We’re hoping to continue the success they helped us achieve this year.”
Dante Terenzio is a freelance writer.