Lansdale Catholic shakes off slow start, sweeps Bonner-Prendergast

LANSDALE – A 12-7 deficit might not have been time for the Lansdale Catholic girls volleyball team to panic. But in the opening game against Bonner-Prendergast Tuesday night, the deficit was enough for Crusaders coach Joann Pisch to call a time out.

“I just sort of said we weren’t controlling the first pass when we control the first pass. And I think Chase (Wassel) was hitting it flat and deep. And (Kaitlyn) Kushman had a hitting error,” Pisch said.

Seniors Wassel and Kushman quickly got back on their games and so did Lansdale Catholic, who went on a 17-2 run after the time out en route to taking the opening set. The Crusaders had little trouble in the next two games in earning a Philadelphia Catholic League victory with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-12) sweep of the visiting Pandas.

“We came out a little weak, weren’t really prepared for what’s to come. Prendie’s a great team, they’re scrappy, they have a good defense,” Wassel said. But we ended up coming out on top, being a strong team. But I think we ended up pulling away at the end.”

Wassel collected a double-double of 15 digs and 12 kill and collected another four blocks for the Crusaders (2-1, 2-0 league). Kaitlyn Kushman added seven assists, six kills, six blocks and two blocks, while libero Caitlin Maskornick had 6 digs and a pair of aces. Kelly Piotrowicz finished with six aces for the two-time defending PCL champs.

“It was about time to get our sophomore and our juniors, who didn’t see a lot of court time last year, comfortable out on the varsity court,” Pisch said. “I think they put on a great display of comfort and they looked loose out there, and that’s nice.”

Lansdale Catholic is back on the court 6:30 Thursday for another league home match against West Catholic. The Crusaders then play in the Parkland tournament Saturday.

“It’s going to be a season of ups and downs as we grow into the new lineup,” Pisch said. “I love the line that they put on the back of the (team’s warmup) shirt, ‘Tradition Doesn’t Graduate,” and I talked a lot about the tradition of LC volleyball and what we need to do to take care of our side of the net, to help them become champions.”

Lansdale Catholic used an 8-0 run to erase Bonner-Prendergast’s 12-7 lead in Game 1, seven of those points on Maskornick’s serve. A Wassel kill in the middle put LC up 13-12, while a Maskornick ace and a Crusader block put the home side up three.

“We ended up picking it up, I thought,” Wassel said. “Our passing was clean, our hitting was clean, working our block coverage, so thinking that we ended up coming out stronger towards the second match.”

Back-to-back points from the Pandas made it 15-14, but Lansdale Catholic answered with a 9-0, the last eight served by Kushman for a 24-14 advantage. Bonner-Prendie fought off four game points before LC picked up the 25-18 win.

“This is a great defensive team,” said Pisch of Bonner-Prendergast. “We were banging balls at them. They didn’t match up with us [on] the size at the net, but the defenders really put on a great show tonight. They weren’t afraid of that ball coming at them. They defended the ball very well.”

Up 7-4 in Game 2, Lansdale Catholic blew the set open with 12 straight points – Piotrowicz serving on the last 11, with five coming from aces – for a 19-4 lead.  The Pandas used a 10-1 run to pull within six at 20-14, but answered with four consecutive points to go up 10 before taking the game 25-16.

“Kelly Piotrowicz is a junior, she has one of our best serves on our team,” Wassel said. “She definitely got us pulled away very quickly and very rapidly. Then Prendie ended up coming back at us at toward the end, but we got to put it away quick enough.”

Wassel set the tone for Game 3, starting the set with back-to-back kills as LC went out to a 5-0 lead. A Caroline Noti kill put the Crusaders up 15-5, with the lead growing as large as 13 three times, the last when Lansdale Catholic earned the 25-12 game victory.

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