UPPER DUBLIN >> The Bishop Shanahan girls volleyball found itself in an unfamiliar position Tuesday night in the first round of the PIAA Class AAAA state playoffs at Upper Dublin High School.
The Eagles were trailing.
The team that hadn’t lost a set since September dropped the opener to Liberty.
That didn’t faze the Eagles. They rallied and won the next three sets to advance in the tournament, 19-25, 25-15, 26-24, 25-16.
“I think the biggest thing with our girls, we knew coming in that our streak of winning in three was done,” Shanahan coach Greg Ashman said. “We hadn’t lost a set since the middle of September when we played Emmaus. We knew it wasn’t going to happen going through tonight … That’s the biggest thing we talked to the girls about. If we drop a set, you need to be able to come back.
“These kids are so resilient. We’ve come from behind so many times in sets this season that we knew that we had it in us, that we have that character to just keep pushing and pushing and pushing.”
After the first set went to Liberty, the teams were deadlocked through the early portion of the second set. Through 24 points, the set was tied 12-12.
That’s where Bishop Shanahan pulled away, scoring the next seven points to take a commanding 19-12 advantage and riding the momentum to a 25-15 win to even the match, 1-1.
The third set was the one to win it for Shanahan. They trailed by five, 18-13, before hitting their stride and eventually tying it up at 24 on a Cara Shultz ace. She followed that with another serve that Liberty couldn’t return and Renee Shultz closed out the set, 26-24, with a kill.
Shanahan made the same move in the fourth set that it did in the second. With the teams tied at 12, the Eagles went on a run. They scored eight of the next nine points to take control and eventually closed out the set, 25-16, in style with a Jenna Losito ace.
“Picking each other up,” Ashman said of where the team improved following the first set. “In the first set we just looked at each other waiting for somebody to step up and do things.”
Cara Shultz finished the match with 14 kills, 11 digs and three aces. Renee Shultz had 16 assists, eight kills and one ace. Losito had 15 digs and two aces.
Shanahan will face Archbishop Carroll in the second round of the playoffs Saturday.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Ashman said. “We pull the No. 3 seed in the state Carroll. Then if we win that one, we pull the No. 2 seed Parkland. It doesn’t get any easier. I wouldn’t ask for it any other way. If you want to win a state title – we haven’t won one since 2009 and in 2009 we had the toughest road to go through – that’s the only way to do it. That way you can sit up there and say we are the best. Now, we can’t look past Carroll … It’s not going to be easy.”