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Volleyball sweeps Easton in quarterfinals

The Whitehall Zephyrs got payback with a sweep of the Easton Red Rovers in the District XI Class 3A Boys Volleyball Quarterfinal last Thursday at Whitehall.

“If they want to sweep the floor after they beat us, we’re gonna do the same thing,” said Whitehall outside hitter Torrey Tyson, referencing their regular-season contest. “We beat them when it mattered.”

The Zephyrs eliminated the Rovers from the district tournament, 25-21, 25-18, 25-21.

“When they beat us, they had a broom out because they beat us in three, so, you know, that stays in your mind, and we’ve got to get a little angry about that,” said Whitehall coach George Cowitch. “I feel like we’re trending up. We hit a lull there in the season at the end, and it’s gotta give these guys confidence. That’s a good Easton team, so to do it 3-0 in the playoffs, that’s a good thing.”

In fact, the Zephyrs dominated the second set, leading the Red Rovers by as much as 12 points.

“They called a timeout,” said Tyson, “and in the huddle, our coach was more fired up than he was the whole game, telling us to just keep going, keep going. We’ve had issues where, if we would win the first set, our energy cuts off second set, third set, maybe even the fourth set, so we needed to keep our energy high every point.”

Easton jumped out to a six-point lead early in the third set, but after Gavin Fasolka’s six straight service points, the score was tied, 10-10.

Easton took another lead, this time by four points, but a kill by Tommy Buskirk, a block by Gavin Kneller, and Devin Donatelli’s kill to the back corner put the Zephyrs on track for the rest of the set.

Fasolka’s serve at 23-21 appeared to be heading into the net, and the Red Rovers were caught off-guard when it landed on their side, putting the Zephyrs one point away from the sweep.

“One moment he thought he put us in a bad position, and it rolls over and he put us in the best position possible,” Tyson said of Fasolka, who was unavailable for comment after the match. “He always [contributes], and he was a key part to our defense and our team. If it wasn’t for Gavin, we’d probably have a lot less defense than we do, so he helps us out a lot.”

Buskirk and Donatelli led the Zephyrs in kills with eight apiece.

“Tonight felt like one of the first times of actually producing, and it felt really good,” said Buskirk. “My coach has been trying to tell me to hit it over toward the back corners, mostly, but wherever I see is open, I usually try to hit.”

Jack Kocher had six kills, including the match winner, and Tyson tallied five kills.

Ethan Ringenberger led the Zephyrs with 17 digs, and Aiden Sommer added 15 digs.

Ringenberger and Buskirk made an imposing block early in the first set to take a four-point lead, but Easton rallied to tie, 10-10.

“A couple times, their middle won a tip a lot,” Coach Cowitch said. “We flipped it a little bit, and it ended up working, so we picked up a lot of those defensive plays. That gets tough when teams are tipping like that, so I’m glad we were able to survive that.”

Donatelli, who usually goes for a kill, went for a tip late in the set, and it paid off for the Zephyrs. Tyson’s serve that landed in the back corner then won the first set.