WORCESTER >> Last year Methacton made the District 1 playoffs as the No. 21 seed and upset the No. 12 seed to reach the second round.
A lot of players from that team are back this year and looking to go even further.
“There was a stretch where we weren’t in the playoffs or were one-and-done in the playoffs,” Methacton coach Shane Manser said. “Last year we were the lowest seed to advance … We were able to go into the 12 seed on the road and win to get that confidence level. Playoffs is a whole different atmosphere. To get that under your belt, to get that experience and be successful is huge.”
The Warriors entered this week ranked No. 18 in the latest unofficial District 1-4A power rankings.
“The future looks good,” senior Andrea Castaneda said. “Last year we had a really big upset in the first round of districts. We’ll definitely do it again and we’re excited to go. We have a really strong team this year and I think we’ll go far.”
Tuesday, they helped their cause with a dominant 3-0 Pioneer Athletic Conference win over Norristown, 25-14, 25-9, 25-10.
Senior Maggie Welsh and Castaneda led Methacton with seven kills each and senior Fran Mbonglou had four kills. Senior Nicole Cooper had 12 digs, junior Carli Ginther eight and Castaneda seven. Junior Emma Eglinton had 28 assists and Ginther had five aces.
The top 24 teams in the district qualify for the playoffs, so Methacton should have its postseason berth secured, but the team wants more. The top 16 teams earn a home playoff game.
“That’s what our short-term goal would be,” Manser said of getting a home game. “A home game would be beautiful. Then try to beat whatever team (is next). If we’re right around 15 to 18, your second round would be (against No.) 1 or 2.”
Along with experience from last year’s district run, the Warriors can take a lot from playing in the Pioneer Athletic Conference. Upper Merion is the No. 1 ranked team in the 4A classification, Perk Valley is No. 5 and Spring-Ford No. 11. In Class 3A, Pope John Paul II is No. 3.
“There’s really good competition in the PAC-10,” Castaneda said. “It’s definitely gotten better. PV, Pope John Paul, Upper Merion are all at the top of the district. We get really good practice playing with them.”
Building for the future
Connie Rudolph took over the Norristown girls volleyball team late last season and is now finishing up her first full year. The wins might not be showing yet, as the team is 4-13, but Rudolph is putting things in place to create a successful program moving forward.
“The W’s aren’t coming yet, but we’re rebuilding,” Rudolph said. “That’s what I’m looking forward to. They’re loving the game. They’re learning it the right way. They come to practice every day to try to get better.
“I haven’t had a chance to get to the middle schools to start my feeder program, so what I did this summer was I would do workouts. They were lifting. They were doing some things they had never done before.”
The Eagles showed their competitiveness and their youth in the loss against Methacton. They split the final eight points of the first set and took five out of nine points during a stretch in the second set. Conversely, fell behind 10-3 in the first, 18-5 in the second and lost ten straight points from the end of the second to the beginning of the third.
“That’s been our problem all year,” Rudolph said. “One mistake — it’s not just one. It snowballs five-to-seven (points) and we’ll play eight great points again, then we’ll snowball again … If we could stop those runs, we’d be winning a lot more or at least be in the 20s more.”
Methacton 3, Norristown 0
Norristown 14 9 10 — 0
Methacton 25 25 25 — 3