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Upper Merion tops Pennsbury in 4, advances to District 1-4A final

Upper Merion's Tori Wright sends the ball past Pennsbury's Shelby Hastings and Sydney Buell. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

UPPER MERION >> Emma Andraka played her last varsity volleyball game at Upper Merion Area High School Wednesday night.

It was a good one.

The senior, who is second all-time in kills in Upper Merion history, led the Vikings with 22 kills in a 3-1 win over Pennsbury, 20-25, 25-23, 26-24, 25-15, in the District 1 Class-4A semifinals.

“I was happy to end my volleyball career here on a win,” Andraka, a co-captain and the lone starting upperclassman, said.

The No. 2 seeded Vikings will face No. 1 Bishop Shanahan in the district final 6 p.m. Saturday at Upper Dublin High School.

Upper Merion came out of the gates slow, losing the first set, 25-20. The hosts drew within two at 19-17, but would never get closer before falling behind 1-0.

Upper Merion’s Emma Andraka spikes the ball past Pennsbury’s Brooke Burns and Kiley Bucknum during their District 1-4A semifinal on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017.

It looked like it was more of the same in the second set. Pennsbury led, 19-15, before Upper Merion won seven of the next eight points to take a 22-20 lead.

“When a team plays a best of five like that and they won,” Upper Merion coach Tony Funsten said of Pennsbury, who beat Spring-Ford in five sets in the quarterfinals, “their next match — they don’t even have to practice in between. They’re ready to roll. We played an easy three (sets in quarterfinals against CB West) and weren’t pushed at all. You can’t help it. (Pennsbury) came out fired up. It was the middle of the second game before they made a mistake. We just had to weather the storm. Volleyball is a game of mistakes and they were playing perfect.”

Andraka gave the Vikings a 24-21 lead, the Falcons scored two to make it 24-23, and Gretchen Bahmueller finished it off with a block, 25-23.

The third set was even closer. Upper Merion led 16-10, but that lead disappeared and the teams were nearly inseparable the rest of the way. Tori Wright had kills to break a 23-23 tie and 24-24 tie and Bahmueller had another block to seal the win, 26-24.

Wright finished just behind Andraka with 21 kills. The junior is third in school history with 999 kills.

“It’s more of a team thing,” Andraka said. “If we (Andraka and Wright) are playing well, obviously we’re happy, but we’re more focused on how the team is playing and the dynamic of that.”

Upper Merion’s Jada Peoples spikes over Pennsbury’s Brooke Burns and Kiley Bucknum during their District 1-4A semifinal on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

The Vikings jumped out to a lead in the fourth set and maintained their distance en route to a 25-15 win to stamp their ticket to the District 1 final.

Andraka was a freshman on the 2014 team that won the District 1 championship, the sixth in school history and it came against Saturday’s opponent — Bishop Shanahan.

“It would be so cool (to win the district),” Andraka said, “because it would come full circle. Last time we beat Shanahan, too. That would be awesome. We’ll just keep working towards it.”

District 1-4A Semifinals
Upper Merion 3, Pennsbury 1
Pennsbury       25 23 24 15 — 1
Upper Merion 20 25 26 25 — 3

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