SOL Boys' Volleyball District Wrap (5-16-24)

Pennsbury, Pennridge & Bensalem were winners in Thursday’s District 1 3A quarterfinals. (Pennsbury/Neshaminy photos courtesy of Jesse Garber: )

No. 1 Pennsbury 3, No. 8 Neshaminy 0
When the stakes are high, a team looks to its leaders.
Top seeded and undefeated Pennsbury saw its seniors pave the way as the Falcons downed local rival Neshaminy 3-0 in Thursday’s District One Class 3A quarterfinal matchup.
Senior outside hitter Jake Bucksar hit .600 with 7 kills, 3 assists, 1 dig, and 1 block for the National Conference champion Falcons.
“Impressive performance by Jake Bucksar helping lead the way for us tonight,” said Pennsbury coach Justin Fee. “I am really happy to see him stepping it up come playoff time. He has been hitting some great shots at outside in practice, and now I am seeing it consistently in games. He has been such a steady player for us the past two seasons and often gets overlooked. He is just a winner. He somehow finds a way to get the job done year after year no matter what we ask him to do as coaches. Last season he was a setter and only played backrow. This year he is an outside and has done a really great job of being a consistent and steady blocker for us.”
Senior opposite Nathan Knapp hit .464 with 18 kills, 1 ace, 2 assists, 3 digs, and 3 blocks. In addition to leading the team through an impressive undefeated season, Knapp is approaching the program’s single-season kill record held by Joe Yasalonis, who registered 345 kills in 2010. After Thursday’s game, Knapp is at 321 kills on the season and is hitting .460 in regular season and playoff matches.
“Nate Knapp continues to be himself and play impressively on a daily basis,” Fee said. “It is very impressive to see Nate have so many kills without such a long playoff run. He has a good chance to also break the all-time career kill record if we can keep winning. He is currently second all-time with 604 kills and Joe is first with 671 kills. The best part about it is there is no player nicer and more humble than Nate. I love everything about this kid, and he deserves all the recognition coming his way.”
Senior libero Ben Bedard came up with 12 digs, 3 assists, and was perfect from the service line. Bedard stands second in single-season digs with 202 on the season so far, and needs 22 more to surpass Brad Edwards, who posted 223 digs in 2016. Bedard’s 374 career digs puts him just 33 away from overtaking Class of 2018’s Charlie Bluestein (406 digs) as the program’s all-time leader.
“Ben is also having a fantastic season for us and often gets overshadowed by the dominant attacking performances of Nate and others,” Fee said.
Senior middle Anthony Klyuchnyk hit .400 with 3 kills and 2 blocks.
“Anthony is currently hitting .507 on the season, which would be the highest hitting efficiency for a single season in Pennsbury volleyball history,” Fee said.
It took more than just the senior quartet to secure the win for the Falcons, who improve to 18-0 on the season. Pennsbury also received strong performances from Kieran Shaw (32 A, 4 K, 4 D, 1 BL),
Lukas Ricciardi (5 K, 5 D, 1 BL), Billy Cavanagh (5 K, .300 pct, 1 BL), and Quinten Kervick (1 ace, 3 D).
The Falcons look to continue their postseason march when they face fourth seed Bensalem in a semifinal matchup at 7 pm Tuesday at William Tennent High School.

No. 2 Pennridge 3, No. 7 Council Rock North 0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-18)
Jude Rotondo made his first game back a good one.
Rotondo made a successful return from injury, and his 11 kills and 6 digs played a huge part in powering second-seeded Pennridge past Council Rock North 3-0 in Thursday’s District One Class 3A quarterfinal.
“Jude was hurt early April,” said Pennridge coach Dave Childs. “We thought he was done for the season. Tonight was his first game back. He looked pretty good honestly. He still has a lot to figure out, but it was a great first night back.”
Setter Evan Jalosinski dished out 37 assists and picked up 8 digs to boost the Rams.
“Evan played a great match,” said Pennridge coach Dave Childs. “He was spreading the ball around to every hitter and we hit a high percentage as a team. We hit .367 on the night.”
Bryce Ammon had 14 kills and 4 digs for the Rams, Aaron Ladd had 7 kills and 2 blocks, Logan Jalosinski picked up 6 kills and 6 digs, Chris Cullen chipped in with 6 kills and 3 blocks, and Ethan Vo had 8 digs.
The American Conference Champion Rams improve to 16-1 on the season. They will face sixth seed Unionville (3-0 victors over Haverford) in the District One semifinal matchup at 5 pm Tuesday at William Tennent High School.

No. 4 Bensalem 3, No. 5 Upper Dublin 0 (26-24, 25-19, 26-24)
Great players rise to the occasion.
In Thursday’s District 1 semifinal, Bensalem’s Luv Patel showed just how great a player he can be.
“I am so happy for our libero, Luv Patel, who saved his best match of the year for today,” said Bensalem coach Tim Linehan. “He was everywhere. Plus, he served tough and received great.”
Patel picked up 24 digs, but he certainly didn’t win this match single-handedly. The entire Bensalem team rose to the challenge as the No. 4 Owls defeated No. 5 Upper Dublin – the defending district champion - in three sets on Tuesday to advance to the program’s first ever district semifinal.
 “I could not be prouder of these guys,” Linehan said. “We needed to play our A game in a big match, and we did that tonight. To see them come together, never quit, and battle back from down 22-17 in third set to finish the match was an unbelievable moment.”
Jahaan Patel racked up 11 kills and 2 blocks for the Owls and Dev Patel fired off 12 kills and added 1 block.
“Jahaan Patel and Dev Patel were outstanding tonight,” Linehan said. “They have been our go-to guys all year, and they delivered again when we needed them most.”
Setter Veer Patel ran the offense expertly and provided timely defense, setting up his teammates with 35 assists, 8 digs, 1 kill, 1 ace and 1 block.
“Veer is our rock,” Linehan said. “He is so steady and even-keeled in big-pressure moments.”
Vraj Patel (5 kills, 3 blocks) and Billy Bibeck (2 kills, 2 blocks) provided huge plays out of the middle. Yosuf Khan (4 kills, 1 block) and Roman Walsh (7 digs, 2 kills) also stepped up. Serving specialist Shiv Patel.
Upper Dublin ends the season at 16-3 overall. The Owls improve to 18-3 and will square off against top-seeded Pennsbury in the District Semifinal at 7 pm Tuesday at William Tennent High School.