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Spring-Ford’s Olsen posts kill No. 1,000 in 5-set loss to Upper Merion

Spring-Ford's Olivia Olsen (15) sends a shot over the defense of Upper Merion's Gretchen Bahmueller (22) and Kelly Moore (14). (Thomas Nash/Digital First Media)
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ROYERSFORD >> Olivia Olsen had no idea where she stood.

Yet the eruption from the crowd let her know in an instant.

Spring-Ford’s senior outside-hitter Olsen picked up career kill No. 1,000 in the Rams’ 3-2 loss to Upper Merion on Spring-Ford High School’s Dig Pink Night.

“I knew I was getting close,” said Olsen of reaching kill No. 1,000 in the third set, “but I didn’t know how close. And nobody would tell me anything. So I knew I just needed to keep playing. I’d get it at some point, whether that would be tonight or later in the season. I just had to keep grinding and push as hard as I possibly could.”

Spring-Ford’s Olivia Olsen gets a hug from head coach Josh McNulty after picking up her 1,000th career kill during Monday night’s game against Upper Merion. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Needing 11 kills coming in to the night to hit the mark, Olsen heard the whispers on the bench and in the crowd, but didn’t let it faze her.

“Throughout the season, I’ve been keeping a rough estimate,” said Olsen. “I was like, ‘I need about 12 kills per match from here on out,’ but then I completely lost track. From that point, I didn’t even think too much about it.”

Olsen was everywhere early on, picking up nine kills in the first two sets as the Rams (6-9 overall) jumped out to a 2-0 match lead with a 25-21 win in the opener followed by a 25-17 decision in the second set.

Spring-Ford’s Olivia Olsen (15) rises up to block a shot from Upper Merion’s Tori Wright (11) during Monday’s match. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Then with her team trailing 6-3 in the third set, Olsen rose up and blasted one into no-man’s land for career kill No. 1,000 before her teammates charged from the bench and flocked her on the floor.

“After she got the kill and we gave her the ball, everyone is hugging her and she’s crying going, ‘Guys, I’ve still got to play volleyball!’” said Spring-Ford head coach Josh McNulty with a laugh. “I asked her if she wanted a timeout and she’s like, ‘No, I’m good. Is my mascara running?’

“It was a really good moment, a good night for her and all of her teammates.”

For the night, Olsen finished with 20 kills and 29 digs while Grace Krafft had 38 digs and five aces. Anoushka Patel added 25 assists on the night while Rylee Clark had 12 kills.

Upper Merion’s Jada Peoples (5) blocks a shot by Spring-Ford’s Rylee Clark (20) during Monday’s match. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Upper Merion (18-0 overall), the No. 1 ranked team in District One, turned things around after being down two games.

The Vikings answered with a 25-21 decision in the third set, a 25-23 win in the fourth then closed it out with a 15-10 win in the final set.

Senior outside-outside hitter Tori Wright was a presence above the net all night, racking up 31 kills while setter Kelly Moore had 40 assists. Libero Emily Gallagher had 26 digs.

“We’ve got to give Spring-Ford all of the credit,” said Upper Merion head coach Anthony Funsten. “They played an almost perfect first two games. Their second outside hitter was playing hot.

Members of the Upper Merion volleyball team celebrate after picking up a point during Monday’s game against Spring-Ford. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

“We just had to find a way to get a lead and slow them down. We finally got a lead in the third game, then gutted it out. The kids held together and played hard to the finish.”

Spring-Ford jumped out to a 7-4 lead early on in the third set, but from that point it was all Upper Merion. With Wright serving, the Vikings went on a 9-1 run, which featured a pair of kills by Wright and another two by Danielle Chung and Jada Peoples before closing out the set and the match at 15-10.

“Our team work got stronger and stronger as the match wore on,” added Funsten. “In the fifth game, the teamwork part of our team held us together and won the match for us.”

Upper Merion’s Tori Wright (11) sends a shot over the net while Spring-Ford’s Erin McGrann (5) rises up for a block in front of the Spring-Ford student section. (Thomas Nash – Digital First Media)

Although they walk away with the loss, McNulty and the Rams took plenty away from the result.

“Upper Merion, they’re undefeated, No. 1 in districts,” said McNulty. “So for us to take the first two games then have the next two games play as close as they did, we’ll definitely take it. We played them tough. I was very happy with how we played those first two games.”

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