UPPER DUBLIN >> The Plymouth Whitemarsh team arrived at Upper Dublin High School Tuesday evening for the first round of the PIAA Class Class AAAA playoffs just three days after losing the District 1 championship game in the same gym.
It didn’t seem to faze the Colonials. They swept Hempfield in three sets, 25-23, 25-20, 27-25, to tally their first state playoff win since the late 1990s and advance to the second round of the state playoffs.
“There is always that feeling, (Upper Dublin) is in our league,” PW coach Seely Byler said about returning to the scene of their only loss this season. “It’s kind of a gym that can sometimes be intimidating, but we knew what we had to do tonight and they executed it.”
Despite the sweep, none of the wins were too easy for Plymouth Whitemarsh.
The opening set was tied at 21 before the Colonials were able to pull away to a 25-23 win. PW’s Lauren Coscia broke the tie with a kill and Taylor O’Brien followed with one of her own to make it 23-21. Hempfield hit a ball into the net to give PW 24 points and — after a Hempfield point — Lily Acquaviva finished the set with a kill.
Acquaviva finished all three sets off for PW. The sophomore hitter scored the 24th and 25th points of the second set and the 25th and 26th points of the third. She tallied a team-high 15 kills.
Senior Danielle Rippert — PW’s other key hitter — also had a big game with 12 kills.
“They are two hitters that we’ve relied on for the last several years,” Byler said. “They stay calm and they put balls in. They know when to take hard swings versus some shots when we need them in tight spots.”
In the second set the teams were tied at 18. Coscia had a kill to break the tie and later an ace to get Acquaviva in position to finish off the set.
The Colonials trailed late in the third set, 24-21. Rippert had back-to-back kills followed by a serve that Hempfield could not return to tie the set at 24. After a Hempfield point, Acquaviva tallied two kills and PW won, 27-25, when Hempfield returned a serve long.
Bridget McTamney and Olivia Carbo led the Colonials with 18 digs each and Emilee Waltz had 11. Carbo tallied a team-high 19 assist.
PW faces the winner of District 11 champion Parkland and Council Rock North – a team PW beat in the district semifinals – in the second round Saturday.
Top Photo: Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Lily Acquaviva sends the ball over Hempfield’s Ahrehon Thompson and Natalie Virts during their PIAA Class AAAA first round match on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)