Last updated: May 14. 2014 11:25PM - 1585 Views
By Tom Fox For The Times Leader



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WILKES-BARRE – The ball shot off Rob Zbierski’s hand like a bullet. The echo rang throughout the gym as the dot flew right past a Mountain View defender and out of bounds.


While everyone on the Coughlin sideline was clapping and hollering for their sophomore teammate, the underclassmen turned to his coach and muttered one word.


“Sorry,” he said.


Don’t worry. Zbierski didn’t miss on very much.


The sophomore had a breakout performance in the District 2 Class 2A quarterfinals, racking up a match-high nine kills and five blocks as Coughlin eliminated No. 4 seed Mountain View, 3-0, Wednesday night.


Match scores were 25-16, 25-17 and 25-16.


The victory earned the Crusaders a date with top-seeded and state-ranked Holy Redeemer in the semifinals.


“It was my first district game, so I was a little nervous,” Zbierski said. “I just didn’t show it.”


No doubt, it was a strong performance for the sophomore, who continues to learn techniques, aspects and fundamentals as the season progresses.


And Crusader head coach Shayne McGrady won’t deny he has a long way to go yet.


Wednesday was just a snapshot of what he believes his big middle hitter can be.


“I think his turning point is when we played at the Cocalico Tournament, where we saw a fast-paced offense from St. Joe’s from New Jersey,” McGrady said. “He just learned from seeing that offense, and playing against it. We incorporated some of that in our offense, and it’s kind of taken off for him.”


Zbierski was collected on the court. After a back-and-forth first set where Coughlin pulled away late, the middle imposed his will.


He recorded five blocks and ended the second on a huge, cross-court kill.


Zbierski also ended the third on a easy slam to a wide-open back corner.


“For me, it’s been about progression,” he said. “As the season goes along, I’ve improved. There is still a lot of room to improve.”


On paper, it was an upset.


In reality, not likely.


Coughlin dominated the Lackawanna League runner-up in all facets of the match, and the Eagles couldn’t quite figure out the Crusaders’ size up front.


That was evident in the third set where the Eagles committed six attack errors in a row – trying to work over the top of Zbierski and James Davis.


“It’s always been in my background to run a middle-out offense, so I always try to establish the middles and kick it out,” McGrady said. “There are times where we start with the outside and go back to the middle. Our next matchup with Redeemer will be difficult because they are a middle-out offense, too. It’s going to be two titans clashing, and they have the best middle in the league with Mike Prociak.”


The Crusaders took the opening set 25-16 after using a 7-2 spurt to close the stanza.


Mountain View battled back in the second, but again, couldn’t avoid the big run. It was a 12-4 stretch, paced by three blocks from Zbierski, that put Coughlin in control of the match, leading 2-0.


The Eagles never found any offense in the third, down 11 points at one point.


Danny Sales added 14 assists and four kills for Coughlin, while Davis had five kills and three blocks. Mountain View’s Chad Schmidt had a match-high nine kills, while teammate Austin Mack had 16 assists.


“Offensively, we just clicked on all cylinders,” McGrady said. “I thought Robbie was just tough tonight.”


Nanticoke 3, Western Wayne 1


Matt Winters had three blocks and eight kills for the Trojans in their victory over Western Wayne. Robert Burke also contributed to the winning effort with 18 kills.


North Pocono 3, Abington Heights 0


Eric Cramer had nine service points and five kills as North Pocono swept Abington Heights in straight sets. Matt Savitz also had six kills for the Trojans.

Kevin Schumacher had nine assists for Abington Heights.

***

Coughlin 3, Mountain View 0
Coughlin`25`25`25
Mountain View`16`17`16
COU Robert Zbierski 9 kills, 5 blocks; Danny Sales 4 kills, 14 assists; Tyler Davis 5 kills, 3 blocks.
MV Chad Schmidt 9 kills; Austin Mack 16 assists.

Nanticoke 3, Western Wayne 1

Nanticoke`17`25`25`25


Western Wayne`25`21`22`18


NAN — Matt Winters 3 blocks, 8 kills, 1 dig; Ed Lukowski 2 blocks, 1 kill, 37 assists; Robert Burke 3 blocks, 18 kills; Brent Pionckowski 5 blocks, 9 kills.


WW — (not reported).


North Pocono 3, Abington Heights 0

North Pocono`25`25`25


Abington Heights`15`7`15


NP — Eric Cramer 9 service points, 5 kills ,11 digs; Cory Rinaldi 9 service points, 2 aces, 5 kills, 3 digs; Matt Savitz 6 kills, 2 digs, 2 blocks; Justin Butler 5 service points and 6 digs.


AH — Kevin Schumacher 3 digs, 5 kills, 9 assists; Jeremy Critchley 7 digs.


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