ROYERSFORD – With a quick and painless victory over Phoenixville on Thursday night, the Golden Panthers have continued their winning streak — a season-long stretch of clean sweeps in straight sets during league matches, now 3-0.
And while the Phantoms, who are only in the third year of a varsity girls program, aren’t the greatest example of early season challenges, the Golden Panthers continue to prove their dominance in never taking a game lightly.
“We talk about that a lot before the game starts,’ said PJPII coach Ryan Sell. “We don’t care who we’re playing, we ought to play up to our level.’
Winning 25-5, 25-15 and 25-12, the Golden Panthers may have been lacking on the offensive side of things, but strong serving and adept work defensively paved the way to a quick win.
“Our serving was good, but I’d like to see our attacking improve,’ Sell said. “I’m guessing that we hit for a low percentage, and in the second set we start with three or four errors to begin, I don’t want to see that.’
Three different Panthers led six kills a piece — Alana Pergine, Myah Cordrey and Nicole Dorman — while the service points were far and away the leading statistical category. Olivia Bonanno had 18 service points, Dorman had 10 aces while setter Grace Dawson followed up with seven.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re doing the little things right, that’s the difference,’ Sell said. “We have a lot of seniors and I try to keep them focused.’
Outside hitter Dorman, the tallest on the team at 5-foot-11, has stepped into the captain’s roll with passion and a desire to succeed. At the net, she is a favorite target of Dawson. But in the back row she shines, adding both passing expertise and a fourth attack with calls from behind the 10-foot-line.
“With the back row it’s more out-of-system. It’s just about keeping it in play, not going for kills,’ Dorman said. “But it’s helpful being a leader in the back row, because you can pick up the hitters and tell them where to hit, you have a good view.’
Typically one would assume the tallest play on the team would automatically play in the middle, where as a block the player must be able to move laterally with quickness and have the wing span and vertical to cover a large area above the net. Dorman has found a niche in hitting out of the strong side, while Pergine has proven herself to be a proficient player out of the middle despite not being the tallest on the squad.
“I love playing middle, even though I’m short,’ Pergine said. “I’m very impatient when it comes to hitting the ball. I’m always ready to be set, so I think middle is perfect for me.’
“I think Alana does a really good job out of the middle. She may not be the tallest player on the team, but she’s probably one of the fastest and that’s what makes the biggest difference with her,’ Sell said. “With her speed she can get to the ball, get to blocking … It’s pretty incredible.’
Dorman, too, laughs as the assumption that she should play middle in regards to her height. However, she seems quite happy to play in the position she’s in.
“I like how I get the out-of-system sets on the outside,’ Dorman said. “You can control the pace of the game.’
Needless to say, the Panthers have proven to have players who can play any and all positions on the court.
“I think if I were in the back row to pass, I could do it. We all have that ability,’ Pergine said. “We can all play anywhere and I think that’s good for Ryan, because he can throw any of us anywhere and he has plenty of options.’
“During practice in the beginning we make everybody play every position, because you never know if you need to hit the ball,’ Sell said. “You need to be a volleyball player, not just a middle attacker or defensive player, you need to be able to do everything.’
The Golden Panthers will put their regular season streak to the test on Monday when they travel to Villa Maria for a no-holds-barred matchup that has proven to be an epic showdown every year.
Last year at PJPII’s Dig Pink event, the Golden Panthers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 with a 15-12 victory in the fifth set. In the District One final, the Golden Panthers defeated Villa Maria in straight sets to take the district title.
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