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Council Rock North girls volleyball hoping heart, I.Q. is enough to get past Garnet Valley

Gouncil Rock North senior Grace Schweizer (8) is the libero for the Lady Indians. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)

NEWTOWN – Ninth-seeded Council Rock North is getting set to take on No. 8 seed Garnet Valley in the second round of districts 7 p.m. tonight on the Jaguars’ home court. A year ago, the Lady Indians swept GV in districts only to see the Jags come back and take the 2016 PIAA crown.

CR North head coach Mike Adams is confident in his crew going into the District 1 Class AAA Round of 16 matchup.

“If we had a ton of huge blocks, I’d be more worried; we have to play our game,” said Adams.

“We can make quick adjustments; our volleyball I.Q. is phenomenal so they’re going to know right away what (Garnet Valley’s) tendencies are.”

Sarah Caola, a senior who sets up all the big hits for the Rock, says the team’s strategy runs a little deeper than that.

“Our heart is really the key to all of our success,” said Sarah.

“Our heart is just so in it that we all have the mentality that we are going to win this – we are determined, we are hungry and we are driven.”

Last year, the Indians defeated Downingtown West in straight sets to take third place in District 1 while the Jags took down Avon Grove to grab the final berth in states.

With graduation, the Rock saw the departure of seven seniors, including Katie Ligos, Hadley Grundman and Morgan Collito. Garnet Valley lost a bunch of their players to graduation, as well.

“They’re kind of like us – they were really strong last year. They lost some really good players,” said Adams. “They’re a great team this year, too – just like we are – just different.”

Despite handing Suburban One National League (SONL) champion Pennsbury its only loss, North finished tied for second place with CB West after going 14-4 in conference. The Indians sustained early losses to CR South, CB West and CB East before finishing the season strong.

Adams thinks his players will benefit from that experience, however.

“I think some losses – some weird losses that we shouldn’t have had earlier in the season – really helped us,” he said. “The volleyball I.Q. is huge on our team; if we stop thinking, that’s going to make us a much lesser team.

“We might be small but we’re smart and we know how to hit smart and control.

“If we don’t use that to our advantage, we struggle. I think we finally figured it out.”

In its district opener with 24th-seeded Avon Grove, North used its intelligence to sweep the Red Devils from the postseason, winning, 25-15, 25-13 and 25-18.

The Indians’ most efficient hitter in this one with a .615 average, senior Alyssa Coates led the way with eight kills, three aces and two digs. Classmate Maddy Moore chipped in with five kills, three aces and eight digs. Junior Jenna Hron contributed five kills, a block and a .364 hitting percentage and senior Mackenzie Tinner added four kills, three aces, three blocks and two digs.

“This was our last home game so I’m really proud of the way that we’ve been playing,” said Caola, who added 20 assists to North’s D-1 playoff win over AG. “We’ve had a lot of team chemistry and this was probably the pinnacle of our season so far.”

After helping the Rock take third in districts last year, Caola likes her team’s chances this time around.

“Even though we don’t have the height, we utilize our strengths – our back row and we have really tough service too,” she said.

“Every single girl on this team can ace.”

Caola is hoping the Indians will ace this test tonight at Garnet Valley.

District 1 Class AAAA Tournament

First Round

Council Rock North 3, Avon Grove 0

(Oct. 24 at CR North)

CR NORTH (18-5)              25           25           25

AVON GROVE (13-10)    15           13           18

Round of 16

Council Rock North at Garnet Valley

(7 p.m. tonight at GV)

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