ASTON>> The La Salle boys volleyball team has dominated the Philadelphia Catholic League all season long on their way to an undefeated regular season record.
Monday, as they faced off against St. Joseph’s Prep for the PCL title at Neumann University, the Explorers showed more of that dominance, winning 3-1 (25-22, 25-16, 19-25, 25-14) to secure their second straight league crown.
“It feels great,” said La Salle team captain Jake Glah. “Coming into the year we knew it was a possibility but to put all the hard work in during the off-season and see it payoff is that much better.”
The Explorers controlled much of the match from the opening serve. Anders Skjeveland dictated the net play for La Salle and made it hard for the Prep hitters to get much of anything down.
“Anders (Skjeveland) did great and we didn’t even utilize him as much as we could have today.” said La Salle head coach Jason Eisele. “When we needed him he was there all night. He was a player that invested in the offseason, in improving his play, and he has really made a jump up as a player.”
With Skjeveland holding down the middle, Glah assumed his natural role of Swiss army knife for the team, with his most important role being the vocal leader for the group out on the floor.
“He (Glah) is the brains of the team and the natural leader for us,” said Eisele. “He’s an intense guy that plays everywhere on the floor but that’s the type of fire you want in a player.”
Prep managed to fight back to win the third set 25-19 after dropping the first two. That was thanks in large part to a huge performance from Mark Miller, which included six kills in the set alone. Despite Miller’s best efforts and the team never quitting, the Explorers were too much for them and won the fourth set convincingly, 25-14, to go home champions.
“This feels great,” said Eisele. “A couple of weeks ago we started dropping some sets to other PCL teams and the kids kind of started doubting themselves a little. That final week though they came in like business men going to the office and transformed as a team. I’m so proud of them.”
This was a Prep team that not many picked to finish in the PCL finals at the beginning of the year.
It was the programs first trip to the championship game, which came on the back of a semifinal upset of No. 2 Lansdale Catholic.
It’s always hard to lose, especially when you come so close to achieving the ultimate goal of winning the league, but this is a program on the rise and one that plans to return to the title game in the coming years.
“We played our hearts out and just lost to a team that played a great game,” said St. Joe’s head coach Scott Murphy. “As a program this is our first time here but at the same time I hate to lose. Hopefully this will be a motivator for our guys and we can use it to get back here year after year.”
Next up for La Salle is a matchup with George Washington for the District 12-AAA title. They will be looking to avenge their loss to GW in the 2016 championship game and if Skjeveland, Glah and the rest of the Explorers continue to play as well as they have, they should be able to come away with yet another championship in 2017.
La Salle 3, St. Joseph’s Prep 1
St. Joseph’s Prep 22 16 25 14 — 1
La Salle 25 25 19 25 — 3