Pope John Paul II tops Gwynedd Mercy, sets date in District 1-AA final

LOWER GWYNEDD — Pope John Paul II carried out a three-set win in the first round of the District 1 playoffs just as the script had it written. But Gwynedd Mercy made the defending champion Golden Panthers claw for every set they won Tuesday night at Wissahickon High School.

The Golden Panthers claimed the three-set victory, 25-19, 25-21, 25-17.

PJP was led by Nicole Dorman who had a game-high 14 kills, with each one more ferocious than the last. After the Golden Panthers took the first set 25-19, Dorman took her team on her shoulders and dominated early in the second set and the Monarchs simply had no answers defensively.

“When she gets one kill, she goes off,’ PJP senior Kelly Tornetta said. “She plays with very high energy.’

However, GMA went stride for stride with PJP late in the second set. Lauren Holland anchored the back line defensively, making several incredible digs that kept the Monarchs in the long points, most of which they won.

“She’s (Holland) our leader in serve receive,’ GMA coach Michael Nguyen said. “She always gives 100 percent. She makes up for a lot of other people’s mistakes.’

However it wasn’t enough as PJP claimed the second set as well, with Grace Dawson setting up a lot of winners for the Golden Panthers. Dawson finished the match with 31 assists.

In the third set, the Monarchs again gave the Golden Panthers a fight as they jumped out to an 11-8 lead, but PJP defended well at net and calmed the storm.

“We haven’t played in a few weeks so we knew we would be a little rusty,’ Tornetta said. “We just needed to stick together.’

The Golden Panthers now set their sights on Villa Maria, who they face in the championship round Thursday at Plymouth Whitemarsh at 7:30 p.m.

The Monarchs close out their season with a 12-15-2 record.

“For me, this season was a new experience,’ Nguyen said. “I wanted to see how we could grow together as a team. We probably should not have even been here. We got into the playoffs by the skin of our teeth, so we really had nothing to lose.’

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