With their season on the line and a District Championship up for grabs, Blue Ridge was its most composed.
The Raiders seized the moment and swept host Berwick to win the District II Class A championship and third place in the District I/II/XI Subregional to qualify for the PIAA state tournament that began last night when Blue Ridge travelled to Lincoln High School to take on Palumbo.
Blue Ridge opened with a 25-17 win in game won and took that momentum into game two winning 25-19 to go up 2-0, and then closed out the match with a 25-21 win.
Coach Lori Zick was proud of her young group and the ability to bounce back from the semifinal loss to Southern Lehigh.
“I think it helped that the loss on Tuesday wasn’t a blowout,” explained Zick. “It’s always difficult coming off of a loss but sometimes it can help you refocus and become more determined.”
Connor Cranage led the way with 18 kills and Nick Laude added five kills as the Raiders controlled the net.
“We realized that we lost to a good team (Southern Lehigh) and that we still had a chance to reach our goal of being District champs,” said Cranage.
Carson Gallagher had 32 assists and added seven points while Morgan Thomas also had seven and Dylan Bradley added six.
Aiden Glasgow chipped in with 11 digs and Cranage added eight.
Blue Ridge fell into the third-place regional game after being swept by Southern Lehigh 3-0.
Southern Lehigh used their experience and advantage on the net to prevail over the persistent Raiders winning 25-18, 25-21, and 25-22.
Cranage had 16 kills and nine digs for Blue Ridge and was aided by Gallagher’s 29 assists and five kills and two blocks from Gerald Welsted. Glasgow added 18 digs.
Despite their youth – Blue Ridge starts one Senior and five Sophomores – Zick believes her team has grown and is beginning to understand what it takes to perform at high level.
“I think they have a better understanding of the game and all of the elements that it takes to be a successful team,” said Zick. “They have grown in their mental play, in their leadership roles, and in their understanding that every year these things have to be earned and what it takes to earn them.
“We’ve all grown up together and push each other to work hard every day,” added Cranage.