After taking care of business against Brandywine Heights in the semifinals of the Berks Boys’ Volleyball League May 14, the Exeter Eagles advanced on to the championship match where they went up against the Wilson Bulldogs.
The Eagles knew that their task would be a tough one since they lost twice to Wilson during the regular season. But they didn’t let that fact bother them as they defeated Wilson in five games, 3-2 (20-25, 15-16, 25-22, 22-25, 15-11. It was Exeter’s third league championship in the past four years.
“I think the win in the Berks championship match was a sort of culmination for the guys on all of the hard work they have put in during the last two seasons to achieve this goal,” said Exeter Head Coach Shawn Ganter. “I feel it’s well deserved for the amount of time, energy and dedication these guys have put into this team. I couldn’t be happier for the guys.”
Corbin Keller led the Eagles with 19 kills and nine digs, while teammate Ryan Santos contributed 16 kills, 12 digs and three aces.
Ben Cirba had 12 kills and two blocks while Jared Moore added four kills and 54 assists.
There was no one star for the Eagles on the night. They won the way they usually win, with everybody contributing.
“I believe it was a full team effort to get the trophy,” said Coach Ganter. “The first two times we played them (Wilson) our offense was much too predictable which made it easier for them to defend us and keep us from scoring points. In the championship match we passed a bit better and we did a better job moving the ball around really keeping them guessing and it opened up a lot more opportunities for us to score points as every player contributed on offense. We were no longer predictable and it spread their defense out for us to score from all over the net.”
It didn’t look good for the Eagles when the match began. They went into the match with the knowledge that Wilson had defeated them twice during the regular season. So the Eagles had to come up with a way to beat them, and believe in themselves. Coach Ganter knew his team could win.
“I knew if this team could stay focused for a full match, they could have won both matches during the regular season,” said Ganter. “In each of those losses it was more us simply losing the ability to string points together in the tough moments of those games. It really has been my goal all season for this team to put together a clean match - meaning playing with only a minor amount of mistakes.
“This team has grown more in the last two weeks of the regular season than the rest combined. They understand the value of playing as a team and that we are at our best when everyone is contributing. Exeter volleyball is built on discipline and understanding of the game, we don’t rely on any one player to carry the load, it is always a group effort.”
In the semifinals, Exeter defeated Brandywine Heights, 3-0 (25-13, 25-22, 25-13).
Keller and Santos each had 11 kills for the Eagles while Bryce Borneman chipped in with five kills, five digs and two aces.
The team now steams into the district playoffs on a roll and a lot of confidence. This is now the team that beat Wilson, not the team that lost to them twice.
“I like where this team is at and I especially like how far these players have come in the course of the last two seasons,” said Ganter. “We only have two seniors and we still have a big upside which makes it exciting.
“To see the team win the program’s ninth Berks County championship makes it worth it so that they now have ownership of this season and that years down the road they can come back to visit and maybe stop in at a practice and mentor the younger players and take them out to our trophy case and explain how their dedication, hard work and the grind out moments everyday in practice made that possible.”