PHILADELPHIA >> Going into the opening round of the PIAA Class AA boys volleyball playoffs, Lansdale Catholic head coach Kathy Arnow saw the daunting task ahead for her squad.
Sure, Lansdale Catholic was seeded No. 1 for District 12 having come off a 3-0 match win over the Public League’s Palumbo High. But she knew going in that LC is still an “up and coming” program and her charges would be facing an established, powerhouse program in Manheim Central.
As well-prepared as she could get her players, she knew they would have to play near flawless volleyball to have a shot at upsetting a Goliath of a team.
As she watched her players trying to keep up with the highly-touted Barons en route to a 3-0 defeat (25-21, 25-10. and 25-13), she realized just how far her program would need to keep growing to be competitive with the elite teams in the state.
She has watched the LC program grow in a few short years from only having nine inexperienced players come out to the current year when more than 20 tried out. Her team would make it to the Catholic League semifinals before falling to St Joes Prep. She has seen talent beginning to emerge as three of her players were named All-Catholic this season: Shane Ward, Joe Howard, and her son, Alex Arnow.
As pleased as she is with her team’s success, she admits that “it’s going to be a process that takes time” in order to reach that next level.
She was proud to see her Crusaders give Manheim Central “a battle” and at times had moments where they controlled play. Yet, over the course of the match, coach Craig Deitrich’s Manheim Catholic six began to dominate on the net and in the serving department. Indeed, each of their starters were first or second team All-League in District 3. That group includes: Tanner Stauffer, Gabe Stewart, Mason Nissley, Ben Burkhart, Isaac Shenk and Chase Fahnestock.
As well as the Crusaders played, and they did play well in spurts, the Barons were superior in quickness, floor coverage, and blocking capabilities. Stauffer, Fahnestock and Nissley all played outstanding games against LC, with Nissley clearly being the alpha dog of the bunch.
The Crusaders will be losing eight seniors to this year’s graduation, but coach Arnow is confident that foundation she has been laying will continue to reap dividends.
She won’t have to look too far from home to see one of the cornerstones of the ‘17 team, Junior son Alex, continue to blossom into an outstanding all-around force on the court. Blessed with great jumping ability, agility, and court instincts, Alex Arnow will be an essential presence as Lansdale Catholic transitions into 2018.
Hopefully, some of the team’s other underclassmen will emerge into equally solid players and the Crusaders could find themselves at the top of the heap in the Catholic League again come 2018.