UPPER DUBLIN >> Saturday afternoon’s District 1-AAAA girls volleyball championship game featured a pair of heavyweights doing battle as the No.1 seed Bishop Shanahan (13-0 Ches-Mont) and no.2 seed Plymouth Whitemarsh (18-0 Suburban One League Continental) squared off.
“I think it’s a tribute to the system that we got running that we get the No. 1 and No.2 team in the last two years in the finals,” Shanahan coach Greg Ashman said. “This year, to have a team 25-0 and a team 21-0 to represent this, I think it’s the most exciting thing you can have.”
Simply put PW played well, just not well enough to win the match as Shanahan, which claimed the district title with a 3-0 (26-24,25-21,25-10) straight-sets win.
“I am completely happy with the way they played. They played really, really well,” PW coach Seely Byler said. “They played really well they just came across a team who is excellent.”
The Colonials made great defensive plays all game as the work for their back line was definitely cut out with the powerful and skillful hitters of Shanahan. The size of the Eagles also made it difficult for the hitters of PW to hit through or around the Eagle block.
“We did our best to line out block up against their really strong outsides and do what we could in the back row and I think my girls played awesome,” Byler said.
The match swung in the second set as Shanahan trailed 15-12 but a 6-1 run from the Eagles allowed them to recapture the lead and never looked back. Shanahan closed the second set out on a 13-6 run, giving it a two sets to none lead and momentum heading into the third set.
“I knew once we came back in that second set even if it did go four or even five that we had the confidence and the jitters were all out of us that we were going to be able to do things,” Ashman said.
Shanahan will have a tough draw in the first round of the PIAA playoffs as it takes on one of the top ranked teams in the state in Liberty. While the matchup is unfavorable, the Eagles enter states with immense confidence as they blew through the district playoffs without dropping a set.
“We’ve only dropped three sets all season,” Ashman said. “We haven’t dropped a set in October or November yet.”
“We’re capable of anything and the last few weeks have proven that. We got a tough draw right out of the gate; we play the no.1 team in the state on Tuesday night we play Liberty. That’s a match equivalent to a state final, we have to play them in the first round, and hopefully we can do the same thing over again.”
For the district runner-up Colonials the loss will not shake their confidence as they know they lost to a high caliber team and also knows it’s capable of playing with any team.
“We’re trying to just build on the momentum,” Byler said. “They played a great match tonight so we’re just going to use that going into states. We played a really defensive game and I’m so happy with how they played so we’re going to use that against whoever we see on Tuesday.”