Downingtown East stages rally to knock off Shanahan

EXTON — Undefeated Downingtown East faced their toughest challenge all year on Tuesday.

Rival Bishop Shanahan (8-2 Ches-Mont National, 12-5-3) came into a boisterous Bob Boyer Gymnasium with their sights set on handing the Cougars their first Ches-Mont League National Division loss.

It looked promising for the Eagles after the third set as they took the 2-1 lead, but the resilient Cougars (9-0, 12-5-1) came roaring back to win the last two sets and take the match 3-2, 25-21, 13-25, 22-25, 25-16, 15-9.

“I am so proud of our team’s heart,’ Downingtown East senior captain Lauren Mueller said. “This obviously was not our best match but we never gave up, we kept fighting and kept the ball in play so much better than the first three sets; this really was a huge win for our team.’

Mueller led the Cougars with about 14 kills and was all over the court making countless diving digs and setting up her teammates with regularity. Margot Gargus had timely kills all match and supported Mueller nicely on the attack. Sarah Goncharoff displayed great defense with a double-digit dig effort and also had seven assists. Seniors Brooke Dugan and Jennifer Matzo were a presence on the net, making several

blocks which helped East complete the comeback.

“Even though we won the first game, we were not playing well,’ East head coach Peggy Hopton said. “We continued to play subpar but they believed in themselves, they fought hard point after point, they were all positive, but Shanahan definitely was our toughest challenge this year.’

Shanahan was able to quiet the noisy East crowd nation with an impressive second set which they pretty much did nothing wrong, winning 25-13. However early in the third set the crowd came alive because of a lengthy rally that cracked the 30-hit threshold. Mueller finished it off with a booming spike which sent the crowd into an uproar.

Shanahan bounced back in that third set with aggressive hits and won it 25-21, which was the first time East, which had lost five sets all season, lost consecutive sets. The young legs of Shanahan could not finish the deal though as the more experienced Downingtown East surfaced in the fourth set.

“We are really young,’ Shanahan coach Greg Ashman said. “We only have two seniors on the court and we had two senior starters out with injuries. The kids are stepping up and doing what they are asked of. Tomorrow (today) we get Rita Shultz back which will be huge because of her leadership on the court. It has been a really good year though.’

Downingtown never trailed in the fourth or fifth set. They were keeping the ball in and rarely had an unforced error. It seemed like every good spike that Shanahan had someone on Downingtown’s side would come up with a huge dig.

In the deciding fifth set, Mueller got the first three points and ended the match with a well-placed spike down the line.

East stays home to play Oxford on Thursday, while Shanahan hosts Great Valley.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply