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All-Delco Volleyball: Balta powered Penncrest into state tourney

In addition to Player of the Year Emily McCann of Archbishop Carroll, the All-Delco team includes:

Strath Haven’s Casey Blum, right, goes up for a block next to teammate Rachel Vresilovic. The junior Blum helped the Panthers capture the Central League crown. (Times Staff/Robert J. Gurecki)

Strath Haven’s Casey Blum, right, goes up for a block next to teammate Rachel Vresilovic. The junior Blum helped the Panthers capture the Central League crown. (Times Staff/Robert J. Gurecki)

Diana Balta, Penncrest: Balta, a junior outside hitter and defensive specialist, teamed with senior outside hitter/defensive specialist Emily Hopkins to form a formidable 1-2 punch at the net that helped the Lions go 19-7 and qualify for the PIAA Class AAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years. A first-team All-Central League and second-team All-District One Class AAA pick, Balta led the Lions in kills (375), was second in digs (292) and assists (94), third in service reception (350) and fourth in service aces (45). For her career, Balta has 859 kills, 919 digs, 162 aces, 106 assists, 123 blocks and 993 service receptions.

Casey Blum, Strath Haven: The Panthers should have quite a potent front line with Blum, Brianna Fisher and Rachel Kent expected to return next season. All three are juniors. She was a first-team All-Central League selection and guided the Panthers to the league title. Blum led the team in service aces (57), was second in kills (208) and service receptions (276) and fourth in digs (190). Only setter Maura Gibbs played more sets than Blum (73).

Brianna Fisher, Strath Haven: The junior outside hitter earned All-Delco honors for the second straight year. She was the only Delco player on the Class AAA all-state team that was selected by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association. He also was a first team All-Central and All-District One Class AAA pick. Fisher led the Panthers in kills (265), was second in digs (223), third in aces (27) and fourth in service receptions (122). She also saw action in 73 of the 74 sets Strath Haven played this season.

Archbishop Carroll volleyball players Emily McCann (right) and Hannah Wright both earned spots on the All-Delco team. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)

Archbishop Carroll volleyball players Emily McCann (right) and Hannah Wright both earned spots on the All-Delco team. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)

Melanie Malseed, Ridley: Malseed was one of four seniors who played every set for the Green Raiders and it paid off as Ridley finished third in the regular season and fell to Strath Haven in the Central League championship match. She is the first player in Ridley history to record 1,000 career digs (1,086). Malseed led the Green Raiders in kills (326) and digs (417), and was a first-team All-Central and second-team All-District One Class AAA selection.

Gabrielle Napoleon, Cardinal O’Hara: The senior middle blocker helped the Lions recover from a 4-3 start to finish 20-6 and reach the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals. She recorded 279 kills and had a hitting percentage of .319 and finished her career fifth in program history with 59.5 blocks. She was a two-time All-Catholic and three time Distirct 12 Class AAA selection.

Hannah Wright, Archbishop Carroll: The 6-1 junior quickly fit in with the Patriots after moving to the area from Austin, Texas. Her skills at the net gave Carroll a solid 1-2 punch on the outside with McCann. Wright led the team in kills (303) and blocks (25), and also had 95 digs and 32 aces. She earned first-team All-Catholic and All-District 12 Class AA honors.

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