JACKSON TWP — On the verge of being down two games to none, Butler's boys volleyball team hit its stride.
The Golden Tornado dropped the first game of its WPIAL Class AAA first-round playoff to Peters Township and trailed the Indians 23-16 in the second game. A 10-1 run, however, handed victory to Butler and led to a 21-25, 26-24, 25-19, 25-21 win Tuesday at Seneca Valley High School.
In the evening's second matchup, SV dismantled Canon-McMillan by scores of 25-19, 25-13 and 25-13.
Butler's comeback in Game 2 included clutch kills from Matt Rudski and Matt Huey with teammate Keenan Krause behind the service line. Peters regained the serve, but gave it right back to the Golden Tornado on a service error, making the score 24-22 in favor of the Indians.
Andrew Hartzell then tallied two aces and Huey dropped two more kills to give their team the win.
“Credit this team, they haven't quit all season and they work hard,” said Butler coach Lew Liparulo. “I really could sense the shift in momentum when we won the second game.”
It was a shift the Indians (12-5) never recovered from.
“If we win that second game, I really think that we win in three (games),” said Peters Township coach Chris Kelly. “We didn't play great in the third and fourth games, but Butler played much better than it did in the first.”
Butler held a modest 15-14 edge in the third game when a kill from Rob Kunst returned the serve to the Tornado and junior Chris Fiorina. An ace and a kill courtesy of Rudski helped Butler reel off four straight points. The Indians managed just one point on their four remaining possessions and never threatened Butler's lead.
Liparulo saw much stronger play from his team compared to earlier in the match.
“Our serve/receive was excellent,” he said. “Most balls were right on target. I thought our hitters started making better decisions.”
The Indians kept their hopes alive by staying with Butler in the fourth game, which was tied at 18. But a pair of kills from Huey and another from Steve Kriley gave Butler breathing room. Kunst ended the match and the Indians' season with his fourth kill of the night.
Huey led Butler (10-5) with 16 kills and added four blocks. Fiorina tallied 12 passes and six digs.
“We knew Peters was a good team and that we'd have to be consistent to beat them,” said Liparulo.
The Tornado advance to the quarterfinals and will travel to Norwin to play the Knights at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.