Upper Merion makes quick work of Norristown on Senior Night

UPPER MERION — After a rough week in which Upper Merion suffered their first two losses of the season, the Vikings certainly needed a break on Wednesday, and what better night than Senior Night? Honoring eight soon-to-be graduates, the Vikings beat the Norristown Eagles handily.

In straight sets that took little more than an hour to complete, Upper Merion defeated Norristown 3-0 (25-5, 25-7, 25-7) with the Vikings doing much of the damage from the service line.

“We came in here looking to serve receive well, and we failed at that miserably,’ said Norristown coach Bernadette Vereb after Upper Merion (10-1) senior middle hitter Eryn Brady served much of the third set and kept the Eagles from any sense of rhythm.

With losses against Hatboro-Horsham (5-2) and then to Villa Maria, the Vikings realized they simply weren’t accustomed to losing. The previous year’s district championship team hadn’t lost until the state tournament, and while they had certainly faced adversity up to that point, staring at two sets to zero was something new altogether.

“I think (losing those games) was very good for us,’ said Brady. “Last year we were so undefeated that we, when faced against a tough team that could beat us, we just didn’t know what to do.’

After losing the rally-happy match against the Hatters in stunning fashion — the fifth set went to 23-21 — the Vikings’ next home match came a week later with Villa Maria, who took the match in four sets.

“Villa changed things from what they were doing earlier for our match that we didn’t anticipate,’ said UM coach Tony Funsten. “They wore us; we won the first game, should have won the second, should have won the third, we didn’t.’

After three tough matches in a week, Senior Night for the Lady Vikings enabled Funsten to change up the lineup and give his players an opportunity to play out of position. Brady proved to be most effective from the service line in the third game where she served winners and kept the Eagles off balance.

“It was fun for me, because I was never really able to serve before,’ Brady said. “We mixed up the lineup so all the seniors could play, which was so much fun.’

Ashley Shannon, typically the defensive specialist for the Vikings, played a little weak side, did some setting, and was able to break out of her normal routine.

“I can’t really (play those positions) in practice because I’m always playing libero,’ Shannon said. “But it felt good to hit again … it was fun getting to be able to relax.’

With regular season games left against Abington, Cheltenham and Upper Dublin, the Vikings are in full control of the division and look strong to roll into the district playoffs. Despite a few losses, the players, seniors in particular, are feeling more confident than ever.

“Two losses doesn’t mean we’re done for the season,’ Brady said. “It doesn’t mean that we’re bad, we just need to communicate better.’

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