Tornado volleyball in semi's

By John EnriettoEagle Sports Editor

RUSSELLTON — Familiarity didn't breed contempt in this case.
It bred an insta-classic.
Butler's boys volleyball team reached the WPIAL Class AAA semifinals for the first time in the program's history Thursday night with a heart-stopping 3-2 victory over Bethel Park at Deer Lakes High School.
“We've played them six or seven times this year, counting tournament stops,” Goldern Tornado coach Lew Liparulo said. “We knew what we were in for.
“This was gonna be a great match.”
Butler (11-5) won the match by scores of 23-25, 25-21, 25-22, 23-25, 15-12. The match took just under two hours to complete.
The first game was tied 14 times. The third game was tied eight times, the fourth 11 times. Even the abbreviated fifth-game tie breaker was tied eight times.
Neither team ever led the other by more than five points at any time.
“It was a good match,”
Bethel Park coach Tom Allman said. “It came down to who made the fewest mistakes at the very end.”
With the final game knotted at 12,
Butler senior setter Dustin DeFrancisis delivered a lob shot deep into Bethel's backcourt. Two Black Hawk players looked at each other as the ball dropped between them.
Bethel Park senior hitter Jason Stewart then drilled a shot out of bounds and the Black Hawks (14-3) were called for being in the net for the game-deciding point.
“I was surprised they didn't play that shot,” DeFrancisis said of the critical go-ahead point. “I wanted to get it back there ... I was just trying to save the point.
“It looked like they had some sort of mix-up there.”
DeFrancisis scored on a similar point during the second game.
Butler had seen a 14-9 lead whittled to 14-13 and his shot was the Tornado's only point during a 6-1 Bethel Park run.
“There wasn't a lot of those,” Liparulo said of long point streaks. “This was a game of mistakes. Some of our mistakes enabled them to drill the ball and stay in it.”
Bethel Park's two big hitters — Stewart and Shane Kelleher — had 22 and 17 kills, respectively.
But when the Tornado needed a senior leader, Mike Dreher stepped forward.
After seeing his team lose that 25-23 first game, Dreher delivered three aces to help
Butler grab a 4-0 lead in the second game. He added five kills during that game and led the Tornado with 24 kills for the night.
“Before we played tonight, I talked to the kids about senior leadership, how badly we would need it in this game,” Liparulo said. “Mike came through there.”
Dreher described being a senior on the first
Butler volleyball team to reach the semifinals as “a huge honor.”
“This is what we've worked for,” he said. “
Bethel Park plays the same style of game we do. We knew what to expect from each other.”
Allman agreed.
“Both teams had to play defense, both had good setters, both had to be strong at the net,” he said. “
Butler has a very good team. This was a dogfight.”
DeFrancisis had 51 assists for the Tornado, believed to be a school record. Xavier Krause and Nelson Johnson had 15 passes each.