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Meadville prepares for quarterfinals vs. Lower Dauphin

The Meadville volleyball team faces a tall task in Loretto today.

The Bulldogs face three-time defending PIAA Class 2A champion Lower Dauphin (19-2) at 2 p.m. at St. Francis University.

Crawford County volleyball fans should be very familiar with Lower Dauphin. The Falcons beat the Bulldogs for the title in four sets in 2021 and in a five-set thriller in 2022, while the Cochranton volleyball team lost to Lower Dauphin in the championship game in three sets last year.

Meadville, the fifth-ranked team in the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association’s latest poll, knows they have a challenging opponent waiting for them, but they feel like they are ready.

“They’re a well-coached team with a championship mentality,” Meadville head coach Nick Bancroft said. “We’re going to have to be ready to rock and roll. We’ll give it everything we’ve got and play to win the game.”

The Bulldogs (18-0) advanced to the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 2A state tournament after sweeping Armstrong on Tuesday. Lower Dauphin, ranked No. 3 in the PCVA poll, swept Obama to make it to the quarterfinals.

While Lower Dauphin is the three-time champ, they are the third seed out of District 3. The Falcons fell into Meadville’s half of the bracket after losing to Manheim Central in the District 3 Class 2A semifinals on May 28.

To advance, Meadville will turn to senior setter Jack Brown to lead its offense. Brown, a Mount Union commit, enters the quarterfinal match coming off a game in which he had 31 assists and added a couple of kills.

Luc Soerensen, returning from his stint with the U.S. U19 team in Puerto Rico, had 12 kills in the Bulldogs’ win over Obama, while Parker Gosnell had six kills. The Bulldogs also will look to Max Decker to provide help at outside hitter.

Tymir Phillips, Kellen Ball and Ben Fiely remain Meadville’s force in the middle. Jacob Graham and Luca White will hold their ground on defense.

“They are an all-around team,” said Bancroft. “They are well coached, dynamic pin hitters and they are big in the middle.”

Meadville will have to keep Lower Dauphin on its toes in order to come out on top.

“We are going to have to play a great game,” Bancroft said. “We have to keep them out of system and win the serving and passing battle.”

The winner will move on to face the winner of Mars and West Shamokin in the semifinals. Mars defeated Saegertown 3-0 in the first round on Tuesday.