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  My Site News: Shanahan wins Second District AAA Volleyball Title  
 

Sunday, November 8
Shanahan wins Second District AAA Volleyball Title

District 1 Champions

By DENNY DYROFFStaff Writer

LOWER GWYNEDD – There’s an old saying in boxing that states – you don’t slug with a slugger. If your opponent is a powerful puncher, you use a combination of punching and boxing – of offense and defense. 

In Saturday evening’s District 1 Class AAA volleyball championship match, Council Rock North faced Bishop Shanahan – a team known for power hitting and an explosive offense. The North girls tried to go toe-to-toe with the Eagles.

The Indians’ plan met with only limited success – too limited to slow down a Shanahan team that is ranked second in the state with just cause. The Eagles lived up to their slugger reputation and logged a 3-1 victory (25-16, 16-25, 25-19, 25-18) to win their second District 1 title in the last five years.

The Eagles and the Indians both had strength at the net. The big difference was that Shanahan had more. North had 6-2 Bailey Dowd and 6-0 Sarah Kiely. Shanahan had a full complement of hard-swinging veterans, including Emily Carlin, Maria Ficca, Amanda Nickels, Susan Frick and Nicole Lott.

“This was probably the best team we’ve played all season,” said Dowd. “They’re a strong offensive team -- and they do a great job on defense. They’re a hard team play against. We’re a very offensive team and so are they. But, we needed to pick up our defense more to deal with their big hitters.”

Shanahan coach Greg Ashman, whose top-seeded team is now 20-1, said, “Our game plan was to go away from then (Dowd and Kiely). In the second game, we tried to stay there and hit through Bailey. After that game, I told our girls to get back to what we do --and to hit where Dowd and Kiely weren’t.”

The Eagles got back in their groove in the third game and then dominated the Indians for most of the fourth.   “The key today was staying together as a team – and passing well,” said Shanahan libero Julie Joyce.  “Bailey was really good. Once we figured a way around her, we found way to put the ball down.”

Hatboro Horsham defeated St. Basil’s Academy 3-2 in the opening match at Wissahickon High – the district’s third-place consolation match. All four teams will open play in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA tournament on Tuesday.

“Tonight’s match was just the start,” said Carlin, who finished with a team-high 19 kills. “It’s a new path from here. This was just the beginning.”

LOWER GWYNEDD – Jackie Davies didn’t spare any punches after her Council Rock North volleyball team was defeated by top-seeded Bishop Shanahan 3-1 in Saturday night’s District One Class AAA championship match (25-16, 16-25, 25-19, 25-18).

“They found our weak spots,” the Indians’ senior setter said. “I think one of our weak spots is defense – the deeper corners, and they really targeted our weak areas.
“They’re a very smart team.”
There were stretches during the match when the Indians played toe-to-toe with the high-powered Eagles, most notably in a second game they won by a decisive margin.
“I felt as though we were talking more,” Davies said. “We were working more as a unit. We never wanted a ball to drop, and we were on our toes.”
The Eagles came back to win the third game, and in a must-win fourth game for the Indians, Shanahan jumped out to a 10-4 lead, and the tone had been set.
“It’s all about momentum,” teammate Bailey Dowd said. “When we had the momentum, we were putting balls down. We were really aggressive, hitting the ball hard, and we were smart with our decisions and playing as a team.
“When things weren’t going our way – if one little thing falls off, then the whole thing doesn’t work. Their offense is really, really strong, and their defense is really good. When you find two things, it’s hard to stop a team and it’s hard to put balls down.”
The Eagles went on top 13-6, but the Indians threatened to make it interesting after Dowd delivered a kill to make it a 15-10 game. They pulled to within four (17-13) only to watch the Eagles reel off three straight points before Friedman delivered a kill for Rock North.
A Davies service ace was followed by a Friedman kill after a riveting volley to make it a 21-17 game, but the Indians would get no closer the rest of the way.
“They have a very strong offense, and they always seem to be able to find the hole in the blocking to find the hole on the floor,” said assistant coach Gina Martson, who was filling in for coach Kinsey Lynch. “It makes playing defense really difficult.
“They definitely dominated at the net, but it was a great learning lesson for us. When we go to states, we’ll be thinking about plays like that, and we’ll be able to get to them much quicker.”
The Indians may have lost, but they put their names in the record books as the first Council Rock North squad to ever earn a berth in the district championship game. While their medals might have been silver, their effort was golden.
“The girls fought hard,” Marston said. “They really were digging deep and trying to find everything they could to come up strong and win those points. They just dominated a little bit on offense.”
The Indians’ season isn’t over yet. They will begin play in the PIAA Class AAA Tournament on Tuesday in an opening round match.
“This is good practice going into states,” Davies said. “They’re one of the top teams.”
“It is a good experience before we go to states,” Dowd added. “I think we needed to experience a loss and know that we needed to bounce back right away from it.
“I think we have the capability to do that. We did it after we lost to Pennsbury, we did it after we lost to Merion Mercy. We know how to experience this, and we’ll be ready on Tuesday.
Davies had 33 assists and 18 digs. Sarah Kiely led the attack with 14 kills while Rachel Friedman had 11 kills and 16 digs and Dowd, six kills, four blocks and seven digs. Caroline Anderson had eight kills and 12 digs.

   
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