PSU commit and Exeter junior Gaige Gabriel

After blowing a 21-13 lead in the third set against District 1 champion Dock Mennonite, things didn't look great for Exeter's boys volleyball team.  The Eagles have worked on the mental side of the game all year and it paid off on Saturday in the PIAA-2A quarterfinals.  Exeter rallied for a thrilling 3-2 victory and handed the (24-1) Pioneers their first loss of the season.  "That was the best game we played all year. That was awesome," emphasized Gaige Gabriel.  The 6'8 junior finished with 35 kills and three aces.  The Penn State commit is 14 kills shy of one thousand for his career.  The first set was tightly contested with Dock Mennonite prevailing 28-26.  The (22-1) Eagles cruised in the second set 25-14.  They appeared to be in control of the third set before the Pioneers went on a 15-5 run to take a 2-1 advantage.  Exeter fell behind 9-5 in the fourth set, but managed to bounce back.  The Eagles scored the final four points of the set to close it out 25-21.  Dock Mennonite went in front 9-6 in the fifth and decisive set.  Exeter caught fire and rattled off a 9-2 run to end the marathon (26-28, 25-14, 26-28, 25-21, 15-11).  Gabriel told SV Sports' Paul Roberts about the key to the match.  "Defensively, nobody was better than that...digs out of the back row, blocks in the middle, blocks on the outside,"  he replied.  Gabriel, who's a member of the Under 19 national team, has a lot of respect for Dock Mennonite.  "They're a great team, well rounded, not a single hole in their lineup. If it wasn't us going on, they'd have a very good shot at that 'chip," he noted.  Berks County Player of the Year Chase Nugent had 23 kills and ten digs.  Jack Forry dished out 59 assists to go along with 15 digs.  Sophomore Tyler Campbell added 21 digs for the Eagles.  Messiah commit Sean Gillespie led the Pioneers with 17 kills.  Junior Cameron LeSure provided 16 kills.  Exeter moves on to the state semifinals on Tuesday.  The Eagles square off with two-time defending champ Lower Dauphin at 7pm at Manheim Township.  Exeter is trying to reach the state final for the first time since 2007.  The atmosphere on Saturday morning at Schuylkill Valley High School will be tough to top.  "I wouldn't want anything else. That was pretty sick. Hopefully, that's what I get to see at Rec Hall eventually," said Gabriel. 


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