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Comets get to the heart of the matter

Crestwood celebrates its win against Dallas in a District 2 Class 2A quarterfinal match Monday night.

Fred adams/the times leader

WILKES-BARRE – Senior-laden Dallas had the edge in experience heading into its showdown with Crestwood in Monday’s first-round match in the District 2 Class 2A girls volleyball playoffs.

And it showed when the Mountaineers jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

But in the end, the team with the most heart prevailed.

With junior outside hitter Jordan Pickering leading the way, Crestwood stormed back to post a 3-2 victory over a Dallas team that walked off the court in shock at Holy Redeemer High School. The scores were 22-25, 22-25, 25-15, 25-20, 15-13.

The No. 5 seed Comets (15-4) advanced to semifinal action. They will face the winner of tonight’s match between No. 1 seed Holy Redeemer and No. 8 seed Berwick, which was postponed Monday due an alert at the nuclear plant in Salem Township.

“I was nervous at first, but once our team got going I did what I had to,” said Pickering, who notched a match-high 15 kills, four blocks and five digs. “Once we settled down after dropping the first two games, we played like we’re capable of playing.”

Senior setter Alyssa Hartranft, who is the heart and soul of the young Crestwood squad, says the Comets put it all together after shaking the jitters.

“We played scared in the first two games,” said Hartranft, who had eight kills, 30 assists and 14 digs. “We picked it up because we knew we were facing a do-or-die situation. We played much better as the game progressed.”

Dallas (15-4) rode the hitting of Shauna Phillips and blocking of Sarah Flannery to win the first two games and seemingly gain control of the match.

The Mountaineers forged a 7-4 lead in game three on a Flannery block against Comets standout Kayla Jeckell. However, the Comets took a 17-4 lead on two kills and a block by Jeckell, and cruised to a 25-15 win.

Crestwood overcame a 14-10 deficit to win game four, 25-20, behind some wicked hits by Pickering and Jeckell.

“Their hitters stepped up and at crucial points in the match,” said Flannery, who had four kills and nine blocks. “We had our highs and lows, but the lows outnumbered the highs.”

Flannery made an impressive block that tied the score at 5-5 in the fifth game. Crestwood took a 10-7 lead on a Hartranft kill, but the Mountaineers drew even at 12-12 on another Flannery block.

The Comets surged ahead 14-13 on Hartranft kill and sealed the deal on a wicked slam by Heather White off a perfect set by Hartranft.

“I was able to hit the open spot,” said White, who finished with nine kills and four blocks. “I wasn’t really thinking about the score.”

Jeckell, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, was one of the hardest hitters in the Wyoming Valley Conference. She stepped to the forefront in game five.

“We started to come together and got really pumped up,” said Jeckell, who had six kills, eight blocks, nine service points and five aces. “Our defense turned it on.”

Phillips paced Dallas with 14 kills and five blocks, while Meghan Murtaugh had 31 assists, 10 service points and five aces.

“This is awesome,” said Hartranft, the Comets’ lone returning starter from a year ago. “We really want to make it to the championship match.”

Lake-Lehman 3, Tunkhannock 0

Senior middle hitter Leanne Grabski had nine kills and seven assists to lead the Black Knights to victory over the Tigers in first-round action of the District 2 Class 2A playoffs at Dunmore High School. The scores were 25-16, 25-23, 25-20.

Sarah Sorber had seven kills, 10 assists and two aces, while Catherine Sullivan posted three kills and three blocks.

Kerri Kotch paced Tunkhannock with 10 kills, three blocks and eight service points. Tori Womer posted nine kills and six service points, while Sara Petrokas had five kills and six service points.

North Pocono 3, Dunmore 1

Nancy Dunn had 15 kills, four blocks and seven aces to lead the No. 7 seed Trojans to victory over the No. 2 seed and previously unbeaten Dunmore in the District 2 Class 2A playoffs at Dunmore.

Alex Zero dished out 29 assists for North Pocono (13-6), while Molly Morrell had nine kills and one block.

Nicole Korgeski led Dunmore (16-1) with 13 kills, 20 digs and 11 assists, while Jaclyn Dempsey had 11 kills, 19 digs and nine assists.

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