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  My Site News: Shanahan blitzes through tourney  

Sunday, October 18
Shanahan blitzes through tourney

By DENNY DYROFF, Staff Writer

UNIONVILLE/KENNETT SQUARE — When Bishop Shanahan was named as an 11th-hour addition to the lineup for this year's Crosstown Invitational Volleyball Tournament, the path to the team title for the other nine teams changed dramatically. It went from being "very competitive" to "highly challenging."

Shanahan arrived for Saturday's tournament with a 12-1 record. The Eagles have been ranked either first or second in the PVCA Class AAA poll every week this season and are currently second behind Mount Lebanon .

The tournament, which was played at both Kennett High and Unionville High, featured an all Ches-Mont final with Shanahan facing Kennett on the Blue Demons' home court. At 7:29 p.m., Shanahan's Nicki Ruszkay served the final point of the championship game.

The play ended when the Demons hit the ball out of play. A full 11 hours after starting pool play (an 8:30 a.m. match against West Chester East), the Eagles capped a perfect day with a 2-0 win over Kennett. Shanahan won the opening game of the best-of-three final 25-10 and then finished it off with a 25-20 victory.

"Focus was a little bit of an issue - 11 hours of volleyball will do that -- but we've been able to bring it back well," said Shanahan's hard-hitting Maria Ficca. "Other teams pushed us at times but we stayed in control. We were most into our game in the match against Garnet Valley. We did really well in that match."

The Eagles knocked off Garnet Valley 2-0 in the semifinals with a 25-18 win in the first game and a 25-9 decision in the second.

"We were just digging in and getting loose," said Shanahan's standout freshman hitter Nicole Lott. "It (the Garnet Valley match) was definitely a fun game. We had a great time."

Garnet Valley coach Jen Shrader said, "I thought we came out and played pretty well in the first game. In the second game, our defense let us down. Shanahan has a really good team so I was happy with the way we played them."

In the other semifinal, Kennett defeated Mount St. Joseph Academy 3-2 (26-24, 13-25, 15-12).

"I'm very proud of how everybody played," said Kennett coach Molly Szychulski, who played collegiate volleyball at Shippensburg University. "I hope we proved ourselves today - that we showed we deserve a seed in the district (District 1 Class AAA) playoffs."

The Demons definitely boosted their "cred" with a win over the Mount, a perennial District 1 powerhouse, and a respectable performance against Shanahan, a team that has won five consecutive titles in the Ches-Mont League.

In pool play, Shanahan topped Pool "B" with an 8-0 record while Kennett was runnerup at 5-3. The Demons posted 2-0 wins over West Chester East (27-25, 25-13) and St. Pius X (25-21, 25-18), split with Villa Maria Academy (25-27, 27-25) and were swept by Shanahan (18-25, 18-25).

Shanahan did not lose a game all day. The Eagles' other pool play sweeps were against West Chester East (25-17, 25-12), St. Pius X (25-13, 25-22) and Villa Maria (25-13, 25-22).

In Pool "A", which was played at Unionville, Mount St. Joe's took first with an 8-0 record while Downingtown East and Garnet Valley tied for second at 3-5. In a special playoff for second place - and a berth in the semifinals - Garnet Valley prevailed 15-9. "I think we played tough but we were playing some very good teams," said Downingtown East's talented freshman hitter Tori Wakelee. "This was a good tournament for us. It will help get us ready for districts."

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