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Butler boys volleyball overcomes early lull to beat Penn-Trafford, 3-1

Semis Bound
Butler’s Ben Grossman returns a Penn-Trafford serve for the Golden Tornado in a WPIAL Class 3A boys volleyball quarterfinal playoff. Butler won in four sets.Holly Mead/Special to the Eagle

BUTLER TWP — Not once. Not twice. Not even three times.

On four consecutive instances, Butler’s Peter Zulick stonewalled visiting Penn-Trafford, boosting the Golden Tornado ahead by eight in the pivotal third game of Thursday night’s WPIAL Class 3A boys volleyball quarterfinal playoff.

Butler surfed the wave of momentum to a 25-17 win in that set then claimed the fourth, 25-16, to move on to next Tuesday’s semifinal round.

The Warriors (13-4) took the initial game, 25-17, after going on a five-point run following a 13-all tie. The Golden Tornado (11-6) led for just two of the first 24 serves in the second set, but notched the final four points after being knotted at 21.

That sequence included a pair of Mason Anderson kills and a Zulick block.

“We just started working more as a team,” Butler coach Lew Liparulo said. “When you make a mistake, you’ve got to leave it go. In the first game, it just didn’t seem to me like they were in the mode. They pulled it together.

“We had a lot of blocks tonight, a lot of kills. The kids did a good job.”

Kills by Alfons Semmler and Coleton Welter were part of a three-point surge that forced Penn-Trafford into a timeout with the count at 8-4 in the hosts’ favor.

Then came Zulick’s string of blocks.

“Peter got his timing down in comparison to their set,” Liparulo said. “He really got it together. Peter’s had some very good nights blocking and tonight was just another one.”

The Warriors worked back within four twice before Alec Teff’s two kills and an ace helped give his side a 2-1 advantage in sets.

“We got stuck in one rotation and we couldn’t get out of it,” Penn-Trafford coach Jim Schall said. “You look at the rest of the ball game and it was somewhat even, but that one spot we just couldn’t get out of. No. 19 (Zulick) blocked a ton of balls there.

“We just got stuck, a few blocks, and that was a big difference in that game.”

Zulick finished with a team-high 11 blocks and Welter with 15 kills. Anderson had 17 digs and Mason McCall 28 assists.

“They didn’t give us anything,” Schall said. “Servicing, their passing was real good. We scored on a few aces in Game 1 and that didn’t happen after Game 1.”

On the road on the other side of the bracket, Seneca Valley defeated Norwin in four sets. The Raiders dropped the first game, 25-22, before winning the other three by scores of 25-17, 25-20, and 25-17.

Butler’s Alec Teff returns the volley for the Golden Tornado as they take on Penn-Trafford in a WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinal match. Butler won in four sets to advance.Holly Mead/Special to the Eagle

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