P-W survives H-H in five games

HATBORO — The Suburban One American is shaping up to be a battle all season.

In a case like that, any little edge can make all the difference. Monday night, Plymouth-Whitemarsh used its advantage.

The Colonials topped Hatboro-Horsham 3-2 (25-22, 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 15-12) in the Hatters home gym during a tight, back-and-forth duel.

“I used to coach at Hatboro-Horsham so I know the players really, really well,’ PW coach Seely Byler said. “They’re a really talented group of kids. I knew their serve, so we played to that in serve receive and keeping the ball away from their strong passers.’

PW’s (3-1) serve was a strength all match, especially in key points late in the three wins.

Game 1 looked like it was only a matter of time before the Colonials pulled away, going up 16-8, but the hosts weren’t caving easily. Cassidy Quattro keyed a Hatters (2-2) rally from behind the line, turning a 17-13 deficit into a 19-18 lead by the time her turn had ended.

But, back-to-back kills by Maggie Flaim and Rachel Isackman knotted the game before consecutive errors by Hatboro-Horsham returned the lead to PW. Isackman and Bridget Raimondo staked PW to a 24-20 lead, as Sam Jones and Jen Nesbitt cut the lead in half before Danielle Rippert ended the game for PW.

Jones and Dymond Black were early catalysts in Game 2 for the Hatters, though neither team could gain a real edge until Candyce Riley put the Hatters up 20-18. Riley took over the serve at 22-19 and sandwiched an ace between a pair of Quattro kills before Quattro smashed one down to tie the score 1-1.

Nesbitt, Jones and Holly Owen provided the early offense for Hatboro-Horsham in Game 3, Jones tying the score 10-10 and putting Riley behind the service line again. The senior setter simply caught fire, laying down three aces as part of her 6-1 run as server. From there, the Hatters added three quick points with Owen serving then closed it out essentially trading points the rest of the way.

Much like PW went up early in Game 1, the Hatters did so in Game 4, taking a 15-10 lead. But, PW’s serving started to take hold, as libero Olivia Carbo had a solid run to close the gap to 16-15.

Isackman later cut it to 21-20, Hannah Thomas gave the PW the lead at 23-22 and Katie Kennedy served out the final two points, both Hatter errors.

“We have really strong servers so when we got those couple of aces on a couple of those runs, it was helping us out with the momentum,’ Byler said.

Hatboro-Horsham took a 1-0 lead in the decisive Game 5, which was played first to 15, but then committed three straight errors to put PW in front. The host Hatters battled back to go up 6-5, but a kill by Cara Sweeney and an ace by Isackman put PW back in charge.

The Hatters made it 7-7 and 9-9, but never led again. A kill by Thomas put PW back up, an error by Hatboro-Horsham expanded it and an ace by Kennedy was the key point of the game.

“Katie is a great player and our most consistent server,’ Byler said. “When we’re in a tight spot, I always rely on Katie and she always gets the job done.’

PW closed out the match, which put them in a three-way tie for first with Upper Dublin (3-1, 3 pts) and Upper Merion (3-1, 3 pts). Byler said the win could be a huge confidence booster for her team, which faces Upper Dublin later this week.

While Upper Merion remains the favorite, the division looks primed with a host of tough teams that should battle each other up and down the standings all season.

“Of the three teams, Upper Dublin, Hatboro-Horsham and us, we’re neck and neck right now,’ Byler said. “I expect a really strong season among those three teams, absolutely.’

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