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Meadville sweeps Armstrong to open PIAA tournament strong

The Meadville boys volleyball team opened the PIAA tournament in dominant fashion on Tuesday.

Meadville swept Armstrong 3-0 (25-15, 25-10, 25-8) at Meadville Area Senior High School’s House of Thrills. The Bulldogs were solid defensively and used a balanced offensive assault to keep the Riverhawks off balance.

It was also the last time this season the Bulldogs will get to play at the House of Thrills. Meadville, as the District 10 champion, hosted its first-round matchup.

“I feel extremely lucky,” senior Jack Brown said. “I didn’t think I’d get to play in front of the hometown crowd again.”

“They love playing here and hats off to our fans,” Meadville head coach Nick Bancroft added. “We had a ton of people here tonight and we love playing in front of them.”

Brown, a setter and Mount Union commit, ran the offense to the tune of 31 assists and added a couple of kills as well.

Meadville opened the first set with a 6-1 lead, but Armstrong battled back. The Riverhawks trailed 12-8 and 13-9, but the ‘Dogs quickly stole the momentum for themselves and never let go. The Bulldogs ran away with the first set and the match.

“I thought we played a complete game all the way around,” Bancroft said. “They (Armstrong) were short-handed tonight. They were missing a few players, which stinks for their guys tonight because they worked really hard. Our guys handled that well and played the level of game we needed wto win. I thought we did a nice job at the net and defensively behind the ball.”

Outsider hitter Luc Soerensen obliterated the ball time and time again with Tymir Phillips and Kellen Ball taking full control of the middle. Defensively, the Bulldogs caused havoc on the block and didn’t let the Riverhawks get comfortable.

Soerensen paced the offense with 12 kills. Phillips, Ball and Parker Gosnell each added six.

Meadville is 18-0 and will move on to the state quarterfinal round where the Bulldogs will face Lower Dauphin. Lower Dauphin defeated Meadville in the 2021 and 2022 state title matches as well as Cochranton last year.

“I thank god every day I get to play more volleyball, but we have to take it one day at a time,” Brown said. “Lower Dauphin is a really good team and obviously we’re familiar with them so I’ll be excited to play them on Saturday.”