Council Rock North surging in Suburban One League

As seasons unfold, often key losses can be as meaningful as big wins. You learn where you’re strong, what you need to improve on and who you really are.

The Council Rock North girls volleyball team experienced just such a season changing moment when they tackled reigning Suburban One League (SOL) National Division champ Pennsbury. Despite losing three games to two, the Indians walked away confident they could convert a rocky season start into a most successful 2014 campaign.

Senior co-captain Samantha Rowen definitely felt the loss carried meaning. “We played Pennsbury early in the year. Unfortunately, we didn’t win but that is the match where we really fought hard together. We were down two games and came back and won the next two games. We realized if we worked together and executed and passed well, we could go far.’

The Rock began the season with back to back losses to William Tennent and Archbishop Wood. The defeat by the Falcons in game three brought their record to 0-3, not exactly the kind of mark that supported preseason talk of a great season and possible SOL title run.

Yet, as Sam noted, the Rock was not about to surrender. “We have a lot of potential on our team and we need to fully utilize it. I know we got off to a rough start but we’re starting to pick up speed again. We have a good work ethic and we have skill.’

The Indians’ accelerated pace included six straight victories, four against division foes Truman, Neshaminy, CR South and Bensalem. Presently, they are in second place with a 5-2 record. Pennsbury leads the pack with a perfect 6-0 league mark.

The conquest of the Golden Hawks proved another nail-biter which saw Council Rock roar back after falling behind two games to one.

“We approached it like every other match. We went in confident in our team and confident we could do well. When we fell behind, our coach told us we had to fight and we knew we had the potential to beat them. We pulled together.’

Sam certainly contributed to the Rock’s resurgence. A selfless team member, she assumes the role of a defensive specialist, a position she feels caters to her interests and individual skills.

“I play DS which means defensive specialist. I go back row, far right side or outside. My job is to play defense and dig up all the balls that are hit at me. I chose defense because I enjoy picking up hard hits. I thought it was more fun than hitting.’

It did not take Sam long to learn the tricks of playing this all-important position. “The key is to read the hitter which includes the arm swing of the hitter so you can attempt to predict where the ball will go so you can be in the right place.’

Frequently, Sam has to make quick decisions about going for a ball close to the out of bounds line.

“Our coach always says ‘ if it’s close, go for it.’ Better to be safe than sorry. If it is really way out, call it. It’s a team effort. If someone has a better angle, they call it. You have to listen to your teammates.’

Her captain instincts value such team play above all else. “I see my role as captain as encouraging the team and picking them up if they are having a bad day. That’s what I try to be, one of the loudest people on the court. I always try to help. I think everyone is really important on the team.’

Such a positive approach could very well help the Rock reach its season goals. “We set our goal to go to states this year. That’s our big goal. Our smaller goal is to approach every match like we want to win. Our other goal is to be first in our conference.’

With big games against Tennent and Pennsbury this week, North could take a big step to reaching these goals. If they do they might credit their early season loss to Pennsbury as the real catalyst.

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