Bearcats hang on, make it into district finals

DuBOIS — How quickly things can change.

What looked like it was going to be an uncharacteristically easy victory for the Huntingdon Area High School boys’ volleyball team turned into a five-set, winner-take-all, race to the finish for the Bearcats against DuBois in their District 6 Class 2A boys volleyball playoff contest Monday.

Fortunately for the Bearcats, they had enough left in the tank to get the job done as they picked up an eight-point victory in the final set to cap a 25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 21-25, 15-7 victory.

“I think that the guys might have got a little tired there,” Huntingdon coach Mike Sellers said. “Not to take anything away from DuBois, because they played well and kept us on our heels.

“I was a little worried after they pulled into the fifth, because I wasn’t sure if they were going to pull that out there or not,” Sellers added.

Huntingdon will now take on Bishop Guilfoyle in the championship match on Wednesday at Tyrone.

Much of the reason for that was the Bearcats’ play at the net as they routinely drove balls to the floor to cap points.

Seniors Julian Groenendaal and Matias Berger did the lion’s share of the damage, combining for nearly 50 kills in the match.

Groenendaal led the way with 26, and Berger finished with 22.

“We knew what they were going to bring with their two big outside hitters,” DuBois coach Tom Hibbert said. “We just couldn’t match up well enough against them to win the match.”

DuBois finished with just 34 kills as a team, although the Beavers were able to make the most of what they got, especially in the third and fourth sets.

The Bearcats were a little slow getting to the net in the early stages of the opening set, and DuBois took an early lead.

Groenendaal changed all that with a big kill to tie the set, and Huntingdon opened the door for some long runs, as the Bearcats worked the lead to five late before holding on for the three-point victory in the opener.

Huntingdon had its way with the Beavers in the second, limiting them to just four points on offense, but DuBois started to string some longer runs together at the service line in the third.

DuBois seniors Zach Koren, Zack Carlson and junior Blaise Carney combined for some timely kills to help the Beavers stave off the sweep.

The fourth was a nip-and-tuck affair that was tied as late as 21-21 before a side out and three-straight service points from DuBois senior Donny Wentz gave the Beavers the win and forced the final set.

“Our two teams are evenly matched,” Hibbert said. “We played twice during the regular season and one game went five sets and the other went four. So, I expected another one of those type of games and that’s what we got.”

But, the fifth set was far from a nail-biter as Huntingdon rolled off the first six points of the set then kept things going, eventually rolling to the eight-point victory to take home the win.