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Jun. 2—CENTER VALLEY — Momentum can carry a team, but it is also fleeting.

For two straight games, Blue Ridge built a lot of it and played with energy in seizing a lead in the program’s first trip to the PIAA Class 2A volleyball tournament under coach Lori Zick.

But once the pendulum swung back in favor of District 12 champion Archbishop Wood and the powerful right arm of Shane McNicholas, Blue Ridge couldn’t get it back.

In an evenly played battle, Archbishop Wood rallied for a 3-2 (25-17, 26-28, 16-25, 25-20, 15-9) win over Blue Ridge, the third-place team from District 2, on Tuesday at Southern Lehigh High School.

Archbishop Wood (5-7) advances to Saturday’s quarterfinals, while Blue Ridge finishes at 11-5.

“We played exceptionally well and we were very prepared,” Blue Ridge senior Calvin Scheideler said. “For us to get to where we were this season with freshmen coming in and having so few guys coming back and having a year off is really amazing. You saw how much this team grew throughout the season and really became a family.”

Blue Ridge fell behind by a game, but really hurt itself. Of the first nine points scored by Archbishop Wood, six came on Blue Ridge errors. Still, the Raiders and Vikings were knotted at 11 after 22 points.

That’s when the 6-foot-5 McNicholas began to flash his dominance with a couple of blocks and two kills, while Daniel Prior added a pair of kills to give the Vikings a 17-14 lead. Archbishop Wood closed out the game on two points from Geoff Waltrich and another error by Blue Ridge for a 25-17 win.

Blue Ridge remained poised and showed some confidence in the second game.

Freshman Connor Cranage sparked the Raiders with three kills as they built a 16-12 lead. During that run, though, Scheideler suffered a shoulder injury. He shook it off and came back with an important kill that tied the game at 24. Cranage added a key kill and the Raiders posted a 28-26 win.

Freshman Nicholas Laude had three kills, Cranage added two and Scheideler provided a jolt from the serving line with seven straight that included four aces to close out the third game, 25-16, that had Archbishop Wood reeling.

“I did that against Western Wayne where I changed from side to side and then I changed it up with floating and to top-spin and that forces the Libero to move around and it can confuse them to where the serve is going,” Scheideler said. “That really helped me get some aces.”

Archbishop Wood responded and built a 15-11 advantage as McNicholas and Prior started to get the offense back in sync. Blue Ridge closed to within 22-20, but McNicholas had a kill and two blocks to finish the game, 25-20, to force a race to 15.

With that strong closeout, McNicholas had six kills in the first 10 points as Archbishop Wood took a 10-2 lead.

Scheideler had a couple of kills and two blocks as Blue Ridge stayed in the match at 13-8, but Waltrich had a kill and Prior finished it with a kill at 15-9.

“I am very proud of how we played,” Zick said. “I am very proud of our four seniors and how everyone really stepped up to the challenge this season and in this match. Just the way they all really bought in to what we were doing.”

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