Sometimes, preseason vows never pan out. Other times, they prove almost prophetic. Fortunately for the volleyball fans of the Council Rock North, the girls team has used its early commitment as a springboard for a great season, one that is still going strong.
As the regular season neared to a close, senior all-league middle blocker Haley Grundman said, “the seniors on the team talked about it before the season. It’s our senior year and we want to get on the banners in the gym that designate championship teams. We set our eyes not only on the league title, but getting further into districts and states.”
Coach Mike Adams’ talented and determined warriors assured themselves at least one championship banner when they posted a perfect 18-0 record in the Suburban One League (SOL). So dominant were the Lady Indians that they only lost a total of six sets in their 18 league wins. Central Bucks West was the only team to take two sets from North back on Oct. 5.
Part of the reason for the Indians’ success is they represent that perfect blend of individual talent and team unity, qualities Hadley certainly values. “You can’t play this sport without all the other girls. I love both the individual aspects because you have to push yourself to be better for the team. You have to push yourself to perform and keep your energy up but you know everyone is there to support you.”
Each individual player also brings dual qualities to the game according to Hadley. “You have to be a well-rounded person. You have to pass even if you’re not playing the back row. You also need to step in and set if the setter can’t get the ball. You have to learn a little bit about every position.”
The Indians definitely demonstrated their versatility and their mental toughness in their quarterfinal game of the District One Class AAAA tournament. Seeded sixth North had to travel to a very hostile Garnet Valley gym, an environment that might have unnerved even the heartiest of athletes. The efforts of the raucous Jaguar supporters went for naught, however, as Council Rock reeled off a dramatic victory in three straight sets.
The Indians showed real staying power as they won a seesaw first set 26-24. Garnett Valley was far from ready to surrender as they roared out to take a 5-3 lead early in the second set. With setter Johanna Batterton at the service line, however, the resilient North volleyballers reeled off 12 straight points to take the set 25-15. They then went on to take 9 of the last 10 points to win the third set 25-18.
Undoubtedly one of the keys to victory was the Indians’ ability to neutralize Garnet Valley’s big hitters. North recorded 39 defensive digs with junior libero Madeline Moore and senior Morgan Collito each recording 11 digs.
The Indians defensive front line proved equally adept rejecting shot after shot. Earlier this year Hadley described her main responsibility on the court as being a defensive one. “I am a middle blocker or middle hitter. I stay in the front row and essentially play half of the game. I switch out with another middle hitter. Our primary responsibility is blocking and playing on the net. Blocking is an integral part of this game.”
Against the Jaguars, Hadley had three kills, two blocks and one dig. Morgan Collito led the Indians with seven kills, 11 digs, three aces and one block. Kaelin Mealey recorded six kills. Birdie Ligos added four kills and Dana Bandurick had five more kills.
The big emotional win propelled the Indians into a semifinal showdown against the tournament’s number two seeded Plymouth Whitemarsh. The match once again proved to be a back-and-forth affair with PW prevailing three sets to one.
The Colonials battled back from a 23-21 deficit to win the first set 26-24. Undeterred, Council Rock fought back to take the second set 25-21. In the third set the Indians took an early lead but could not hold off the resurgent Colonials who went on top on a block by Corrine Kalala. They would hold on to win 25-22. In the crucial final set Council Rock held leads of 13-10 and 17-14. The Colonials refused to surrender, rallying back to take the set 25-21 and winning the match.
Though dreams of a district championship banner faded, the Indians are still very much alive as the PIAA state tournament begins next week. They will undoubtedly use their district consolation game against Downingtown West as a tune-up for a strong state run.
Council Rock North 3, Garnet Valley 0
(Nov. 1 at Garnet Valley)
CR NORTH 26 25 25
GARNET VALLEY 24 15 18
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