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Plymouth Whitemarsh still reveling in breakthrough season

They went from afterthought to league champs, from also-rans to state qualifiers.

And the best news for the Plymouth Whitemarsh girls volleyball team is that it just may be the beginning.

The Colonials (26-2) saw their season end this past weekend with a loss to Parkland in the PIAA Class AAAA quarterfinals. But the year was an unqualified success in so many ways.

They blew through the regular season, lost only to Bishop Shanahan and the aforementioned Parkland in the state quarters and set a standard that future Colonials teams can only hope to match.

“It was such a fun year, beating both Upper Merion, and later, Council Rock North,” said head coach Seely Byler. “We hadn’t beaten Upper Merion in I don’t know how long (not since the 1990) and we seemed to play our best against our best competition.”

Add to that a win over perennial power Hempfield in the opening round of states and the stand up performance against Parkland in the state quarters, and the Colonials have nothing but terrific memories from a true turnaround season.

“It was such a fun season to play,” said sophomore Lily Acquaviva, who was one of the standouts in just her fourth year of playing the sport.  “We did a great job working as a team, we were like a family and we played our best against the best teams we played.”

It was also a tiring season, as the Colonials went into the so-called mega-conference,  so the team had to get used to playing a lot with very little rest.

That unintentional conditioning paid off when the Colonials needed it at the most vital part of the season.

It really paid off in the five-set playoff masterpiece against Upper Merion that saw the Colonials rally from a 2-1 set deficit to upset the Vikings and reach the district semifinals.

“To see us play at that high level was really exciting,” Byler said.

In the meantime, the Colonials built a family atmosphere around their adversity, and became both closer as teammates and better as a team.

And as Byler pointed out, it could just be the beginning.

“We lose six very good seniors,” the coach said. “But we had a good core of juniors like Emilee Waltz, Bridget McTamney and Taylor O’Brian who will be back, along with sophomores like Lily.”

In the wake of the loss, the Colonials still have one big game left on the their “schedule,”  the annual postseason meeting with the PW faculty.

“I think,” Byler said with a giggle, “that the faculty is in for an awakening.”

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