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Upper Merion advances to District 1-4A semis, clinches PIAA berth with win over CB West

Upper Merion's Tori Wright sends a kill past Spring-Ford during their PAC semifinal Monday at Pope John Paul II. (Austin Hertzog/Digital First Media File)

UPPER MERION >> After a two-year absence, the Upper Merion girls volleyball team is headed back to the state playoffs.

The No. 2 seeded Vikings swept No. 10 Central Bucks West, 25-9, 25-23, 25-13, in the District 1 Class-4A quarterfinals Monday night at Upper Merion Area High School to secure a spot in the PIAA Class-4A state playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“You have to treasure those moments,” Upper Merion coach Tony Funsten said. “This is the 11th time we’ve made it in 24 years. It doesn’t happen every year … It’s an accomplishment that should be cherished because there are teams that have never made it. It’s certainly one of our goals. Can’t win the state championship unless you go to states.”

“I’m excited,” junior co-captian Tori Wright said. “It’s new for me and all the younger kids. I’m excited for a new experience.”

Before the state playoffs, Upper Merion still has District 1 business to take care of. The Vikings will host No. 3 Pennsbury Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the semifinals.

To get to the semifinals, Upper Merion had to go through Central Bucks West.

The Vikings won the final 10 points of the first set, which ended, 25-9. At 15-9, Upper Merion’s Danielle Chung stepped up to serve. She tallied four straight aces to highlight the 10-point run.

“We’ve been a lot more consistent (serving) as the season goes on.” Wright, who had three consecutive aces in the third set, said. “Focusing on that so much in practice — it really helps us get that far ahead.

“Serving has been very important to us all year long. Ninety-percent serving is our goal every game overall. We’re pretty close to that right now. Every practice we focus on it. It’s one of our major concerns. Mr. Funsten is always saying we need to be the best serving team in the gym and I think that’s what makes us come out on top a lot of the time.”

The second set was more difficult for the winners of the Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division. The teams traded points for most of the set before the Bucks took a three-point lead, 19-16. The Vikings evened the match at 22 and again at 23. Chung hit another ace to make it 24 and Wright closed it off with a kill for the 25-23 win and 2-0 lead.

The third set wasn’t close for long. Upper Merion jumped to a 7-3 lead and extended that to 17-7. The Bucks cut it down to 20-13, but that’s as close as they’d get. The Vikings won the final five points — highlighted by two Emma Andraka kills — to sweep the Bucks and advance in the postseason.

Central Bucks West coach Todd Miler declined to comment on the game.

Upper Merion 3,CB West 0
CB West            9 23 13
Upper Merion 25 25 25

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