TYRONE - Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic seniors Damon Rickens and Jamey Brumbaugh are best friends.
On Tuesday night at the Tyrone Middle School, in the District 6 Class AA boys volleyball championship, Forest Hills found the duo to be nearly unstoppable.
Rickens led BG's domination at the net, recording 10 kills, and Brumbaugh led the service domination with 19 points in leading the Marauders to a 25-18, 25-6, 25-9 sweep of the Rangers for the program's second straight district title.
"We are definitely a power-heavy team," Brumbaugh said. "We pride ourselves on our power. When the passes are working, then the sets will be good and then the kills come easy. We have so many different options and it just opens everything up. Damon always plays fantastic. He always has my back, and I will always have his."
"I think there were some key things in the match," BG coach Bob Kasun said. "No. 1, I think we blocked extremely well. That might be the best team blocking we've had. Damon is a special player, and Damon has the ability to take over a match. But Damon will be the first person to tell you that volleyball is a sport you rely on somebody else.
"We need that great pass from Jamey Brumbaugh. We need that set from Ben [Kasun]. The climax of the play is Damon crushing it. He had a great match tonight."
BG (14-1) doesn't have much time to celebrate its title. The Marauders play District 8 champion Obama Academy at 7 tonight at home in a PIAA play-in match. It's the second straight year BG and Obama have played in the play-in match, but Guilfoyle had some time off before playing last year in Pittsburgh.
"Little change of pace," Rickens said. "We thought it was going to be Saturday, but we're ready to go. I think it might be good that it got moved up so we don't have so much rest."
"We were not expecting to play tomorrow," Brumbaugh said. "It's definitely some adversity, but this team will handle it well. We've been playing together for a really long time."
BG will aim for a better start in that one than Tuesday night's as it struggled a little to find its game.
The Rangers (9-8) kept it close and were only down by three, 19-16, when BG pulled away with the net of Nick Little, who had six blocks and five kills, and Rickens. Forest Hills misfired on a volley with setter Ben Kasu serving for the deciding point.
"I think it was sort of a wakeup call," Rickens said. "We played Northern Cambria last year [BG won in five sets], and they were a very good team. The caliber of team we played this year wasn't as good as Northern Cambria, so I think we came in too relaxed. After that first set, we knew that we had to get it going, and we did."
"You would think that with a team of seniors returning to the District 6 championship game, they would be excited," Bob Kasun said. "It was just a little bit of a slow start, and then after we got through that slow start, then I think you saw us play well in the second and third set."
The Marauders started to play better in the second set as passes from Kasun (31 assists, five blocks) found the big guys at the net, who then slammed down kills with apparent ease. Sophomore outside hitter Sam Keating finished second in kills with eight and service points with 10.
Brumbaugh served out the second set, notching two of his four aces in the run
"That might have been the best Jamey has served all year," Coach Kasun said. "Jamey takes a really good philosophy when he serves. He will get the first serve in, little harder [on the second], little harder [on the third] and at the end of it, all the coaches were looking at each other saying 'I can not believe how hard he's serving the volleyball.'"
Brumbaugh and Keating weren't alone in serving well as sophomore Collin Welteroth and senior Brennan Hurd had eight and seven points, respectively.
BG was even scoring with its backups on Brumbaugh's run in the second. The last two points of the set were scored on a block by senior backup middle hitter Frank Macharola and a block by senior outside hitter Andrew Good.
"Our subs are seniors," Coach Kasun said. "Frank Macharola came in and gave us a phenomenal block. Andrew Good gave us a good hit. Kohl Kimberly gave us a dig."
It was 7-4 in the third when Rickens pounded three kills in five-point BG run. Later, after a Brumbaugh ace made the score 22-8, Coach Kasun subbed again, and the result was Good with a kill.
Senior Robbie Gallagher entered the match at 23-9 to a standing ovation from his teammates, who were even more excited when he served out the final two points. The Rangers misfired on the last point, and BG began celebrating.
"It's a great feeling," Coach Kasun said. "The one big difference we had from last year is we ran a really good offseason program. It got our guys to jump up to another level, to see another level."
"It feels really special to win back-to-back district championships with the exact same team we had last year," Brumbaugh said.
FOREST HILLS: Kunrod 2, Wright 2, Donoughe 2, Ickes 3, Smith 1.
BISHOP GUILFOYLE: Brumbaugh 19, Keating 10, Welteroth 8, Hurd 7, Kasun 2, Rickens 2, Gallagher 2, Little 1.
Records: Forest Hills (9-8); Bishop Guilfoyle (14-1).