D2 VOLLEYBALL: Blue Ridge, Holy Redeemer set for rematch; DV seeks Class 3A title

Another showdown between Holy Redeemer and Blue Ridge is for gold.

The boys volleyball teams developed quite a rivalry during this four-year surge for Blue Ridge. This season, they met in a late-season nonleague contest that Holy Redeemer won in five sets. That set the stage for Thursday’s rematch in the District 2 Class 2A title game at Scranton High School in the second game of a doubleheader. Wilkes-Barre Area plays defending champion Delaware Valley in the first game at 5 p.m. for the Class 3A crown.

“We are excited,” Blue Ridge senior and all-state player Connor Cranage said. “They are a phenomenal team. We have to play to our potential. It is going to be a challenge, and we have to stay on our toes and really play our game well.”

Before the 2022 season, Holy Redeemer won 10 straight District 2 Class 2A championships. The Royals dominated the competition with their power and execution.

Then Blue Ridge broke through. First, in a regular season game, the Raiders defeated Holy Redeemer, 3-2. That season, as sophomores, Connor Cranage had 14 kills and 13 digs, Aiden Glasgow had 17 digs and Carson Gallagher had 31 assists in the win.

Berwick defeated Holy Redeemer in the District 1-2 Class 2A subregional quarterfinals, 3-0. Blue Ridge then defeated Berwick for the District 2 championship, 3-0, and advanced to the state tournament.

Last season, Blue Ridge had a memorable undefeated run to a second straight District 2 title with a 3-0 win over Holy Redeemer.

With its entire starting lineup back, Blue Ridge started the season on a torrid pace, ripping through the competition for 15 straight wins by shutout. The Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association ranked the Raiders the top 10 teams in Class 2A.

Holy Redeemer then reminded everyone that it had talent, too, in the first meeting between the two teams.

On May 6, in the highly anticipated first round between the two heavyweights, the Royals first handed Blue Ridge their first set loss, then won the match overall, 3-2. Joshua Rocha, Johnathan Rocha and George Sabatini led Holy Redeemer in a thrilling 25-12, 17-25, 14-25, 25-23, 15-6 victory.

“We have to perform at our highest level,” Blue Ridge four-year starting setter Carson Gallagher said. “We have to peak at the right time. We have been working all season for this, and we have to want this more.”

There were playoff games ahead, but Holy Redeemer and Blue Ridge took care of that business in short order.

The Royals dispatched West Scranton and Mountain View in shutouts. Blue Ridge beat Forest City, 3-0, and played with more poise and focus in the third and fourth sets of a 3-1 win over Dallas.

The time has come for the rematch.

Cranage had 28 kills in the win over Dallas, giving him 314 for the season and 1,074 in his four seasons as a starter. Nick Laude had nine kills and has 123. Gallagher had 41 assists against the Mountaineers, has 547 this season and has 2,085 in his career.

In the last four seasons, Blue Ridge has a record of 66-12.

“We have done a lot for this program since we were freshmen,” Laude said. “We started out as small fish in a big pond. We wanted to earn another bus ride each year. We wanted to get to the district final that first season. Then, we wanted to win a district title and get to states, and then go farther in states.

“We have to be mentally ready for Holy Redeemer. They gave it to us, and we have to learn from our mistakes.”

Joshua Rocha leads Holy Redeemer with 308 kills, George Sabatini has 201 kills, and sophomore Jack Wasiakowski has 737 assists.

Class 3A

Delaware Valley seeks its second straight District 2 Class 3A championship when it battles Wilkes-Barre Area in the 5 p.m. game at Scranton High School.

Chris U’Glay has 273 kills this season and is the program’s career leader, with 705 kills and 425 service points. Aidan Papula had 18 assists in the semifinal win over Abington Heights and has 379 this season. Tommy Parker contributed 10 service points and six kills against Abington Heights to give him 90 kills and 166 service points this season.

Delaware Valley won eight District 2 Class 3A championships since 2013.

Julio Amigon had 11 service points, six digs and 29 assists, and Jordany Rodriguez added 11 service points with six aces, 18 digs and nine digs to lead Wilkes-Barre Area into its first championship game.

In the Wyoming Valley Conference season, Delaware Valley defeated the Wolfpack, 3-1.