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Pennsbury girls volleyball pushes past Central Bucks East in districts

Pennsbury head coach Mike Falter discusses strategy with the Lady Falcons during a timeout. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)

FALLS TWP. – The way Suburban One National League (SONL) rival Central Bucks East got started in its District 1 second-round pairing Thursday night (Oct. 26) at Pennsbury, onlookers would have never known the Lady Falcons topped the Patriots twice during the regular season.

In the opening game won by CB East, the Patriots scored 11 of the first 12 points to take a 10-point lead before Pennsbury started its comeback. Ten of those points were scored on service aces by CB East junior Jenn Krzeminski.

There was a good reason for the slow start by the Falcons.

“We were nervous,” admitted Pennsbury senior Sydney Buell. “In the past, we’ve lost in the first round on our court so we were all super nervous about this game.

“Once they went on a run, we just had to stay positive, which we did.

“In the end, we fought back.”

After falling 25-22 in the first set, the Falcons posted three straight wins, 25-23, 25-19 and 25-16 to advance to a district quarterfinal matchup against 11th-seeded Spring-Ford, a 3-0 winner over No. 6 seed Abington that will take place 7 p.m. Monday on the Falcons’ home court.

CB East took Pennsbury to five sets in the first matchup between these two league rivals, though a week earlier, the Falcons won in straight sets to ruin the Patriots’ Senior Night.

“We knew that East was going to fight tonight and that it wasn’t going to be a clean sweep,” added Buell, an outside hitter who came through with 11 kills, nine digs and four aces. “We knew it would go to four or five games so we were prepared.”

Game two was a back and forth affair nearly the entire way until the sides drew even at 22-all. From there, Pennsbury claimed its first win as Buell, classmate Julia Vreeswyk and outside hitter Elley Torres combined to score three of the last four points for a 25-23 Falcon triumph.

Torres snuck the last shot in before the back line for a 25-23 triumph that evened the match at a game apiece. A sophomore, Torres added 12 kills and seven digs to the Pennsbury cause.

“She’s got a great swing, her defense is amazing – probably one of the best on the team,” said Buell. “She plays like she’s older than she is; she plays like an upperclassman and she’s really helped us out this year.”

Pennsbury never had more than a two-point lead in game two, however.

“I think they knew they could hang with us, which gave them confidence, especially after they won the first set,” said Buell.

In game three, the Falcons took an early edge and led by as many as eight points at 21-13 after an ace by Buell. East answered with five straight points, however, on three straight Pennsbury errors, an ace by libero Morgan Beakley and a block by Krzeminski.

To their credit, the Falcons finished the match by scoring four of the last five points, three of which were tallied by Vreeswyk. Julia led Pennsbury’s effort with 16 kills, seven digs and two aces.

“She’s an amazing asset to the team,” said Buell, of Vreeswyk. “She brings that to every game and she doesn’t let up.”

While libero Heather Linker led the Falcon defense with 20 digs and opposite Brooke Burns chipped in with three kills and one dig, setter Kiley Bucknum came through with a big night as she handed out 36 assists, seven digs, two kills and a team-high five aces.

Bucknam went down, however, early on in the second set after a collision with a teammate. A senior, one of five for the Orange and Black, Pennsbury can ill afford to lose Bucknam as she’s the only player the team has utilized at that position this season.

After returning to the court midway through the second set, Kiley scored back to back service aces in game four, giving the Falcons a 17-9 edge, a lead expanded to double digits at 20-10 after an ace by Vreeswyk.

While CB East tallied six of the last 11 points in the game, it was not enough to save the Patriots, who went down 25-16 in game four.

Winners in straight sets over 14th-seeded Downingtown West in the opening round of districts, CB East’s season comes to an end at 14-10. Krzeminski – who is committed to Elon – led the Patriots’ effort, contributing 15 kills, 10 aces, two blocks and 19 digs. Classmate Makaila Freeman added four kills and a block.

“We knew that their middles were the strongest part of their team,” said Buell. “We worked on blocking the other day, to be able to block the middles. We have progressions up on the front line – tight-two, spread – just to be able to cover blocks on the front row.”

Still, it was hard to imagine Pennsbury sweeping CB East a week earlier on Patriots’ home court. On Sept. 25 at the Falcons’ nest, Pennsbury suffered losses in games one and three before bouncing back to win game four, 31-29 and game five, 15-11.

“The fact they went to five with us just pissed us off,” explained Buell. “We should have swept the first game, too. They shouldn’t be able to hang with us, but they do.”

While CB East lost to the Falcons in straight sets on their Senior Night, the Patriots certainly proved that point last night at Pennsbury.

District 1 Class AAAA Tournament (Second Round)

Pennsbury 3, Central Bucks East 1

(Oct. 26 at Pennsbury)

PENNSBURY (22-1)          22           25           25           25

CB EAST (14-10)                25           23           19           16

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