Guilfoyle bounces back, returns to D6 pinnacle

TYRONE — After injuring his ankle during the district finals a year ago, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic’s Michael Burke could only watch as Forest Hills broke the Marauders four-year run as District 6 Class 2A champions.

“Someone came under the net, and I rolled my ankle pretty bad. I couldn’t walk for weeks. It was pretty bad,” Burke said.

The loss served as fuel not only for the senior outside hitter, but the rest of the squad as well.

“It was something we talked about every week in the gym. All the effort was for one thing, to reclaim a district championship and move on to states,” BG coach Brandin McDonough said. “That was our focus. Every time we lacked effort in the gym that was what we brought it back to. It was kind of our rallying cry.”

BG did indeed reclaim the district title and qualify for states Wednesday with a three-set sweep of Huntingdon 25-18, 25-7 and 25-16.

“For us to come back and win this year feels really good,” Burke said.

Burke broke a 16-16 tie in the first set with a kill followed by three straight service points, and Vincent Good closed it out with back-to-back aces.

“When we’re passive, we struggle and don’t get the points we should, but when we’re aggressive from the service line and aggressive with our hitting, we can be a pretty hard team to stop,” Good said.

BG overcame a lot of early mistakes to take the first set.

“Nine of their first 14 points were on our mistakes. The guys were really excited to play. Almost overly excited,” McDonough said. “Once we settled in, we took control of the match. In the second set, the guys had this focus where we’re just going to rip with our serves and put the pressure on them. We only had four errors in that second set.”

Good’s crushing jump serve continued in the second set. He started the set with five straight service points and closed it with another five straight, including back-to-back aces on the final two points once again.

He finished with 15 service points, including six aces.

“Vincent’s serving put us on our heels right away in the second set. We shanked a few in a row and were on our heels from that point on,” Huntingdon coach Mike Sellers said. “It’s been a problem this year. Of the 11 players we have, seven are brand new. We have three, four new guys on the court that have only played volleyball for two months.”

Good closed the third set as well with teammate Charles Patterson making sure he got the ball for the final kill, and the senior setter hammered the ball cross-court just inside the side boundary to clinch the title.

“We were in a timeout and our all-state outside hitter Charles Patterson said the last kill’s coming to you. We changed up the rotation, and I backed off. We let Charles take hands for the last play, and he gave the me the ball,” Good said.

Patterson finished with a match-high 14 kills, Burke had 11 and Tyler Rumbaugh added nine. Good dished out 34 assists, and Adam Spencer had seven digs.

Julian Groenendaal led Huntingdon with seven kills followed by Matias Berger with six. Groenendaal, Berger and Brady Hawkins had 10 digs each.

The Marauders have nearly two weeks now to prepare for the state playoffs. BG plays the WPIAL runner-up May 29th at a site and time to be determined.

Good thinks the team has the talent and skill to compete at the state level.

“We have five capable hitters on the floor. We don’t really have a weak rotation. We don’t have a weak middle or weak outside. We’re pretty consistent all the way through,” he said. “We know we can play with those guys. There not expecting too much out of District 6. We’re gonna’ change that.”

McDonough said the key to success rests on how well the team plays defense.

“Everybody we’ll see in the WPIAL tries to beat teams offensively. They’ll try to beat you with the big swing, but it’s still just one point. We’ll need to get a key dig or key block to swing a game. That’s what we’ll be working on.”

SERVICE POINTS

HUNTINGDON: Cooper 4, Hawkins 2, Berger 1, Miller 1.

BISHOP GUILFOYLE: Good 15, Rumbaugh 7, Patterson 4, Burke 4, Ebersole 3, Ebersole 3, Wessner 1.

Records: Huntingdon (7-6); Bishop Guilfoyle (11-4).

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