Shanahan thwarts Downingtown West

By RB Fogel

DOWNINGTOWN >> The crowd at Bishop Shanahan for its Ches-Mont League National Division opener against Downingtown West on Tuesday was electric from the start and stayed that way during the tense affair. The rambunctious group had plenty to cheer about as the Eagles opened their season with a convincing three-set sweep, 25-20, 25-21, 25-17.
“The first match of the year is always tough,” Shanahan coach Greg Ashman said. “(Downingtown) was fortunate, they played Friday and a tournament over the weekend; so they had time to mesh as a  group. “We don’t usually play in that first weekend because of the holiday, we haven’t even started school yet, so I thought we were a little sluggish to start, but I am happy with the way the girls responded. It’s amazing they have this match so early on. These are two of the best teams in the Ches-Mont.”
Renee Shultz had an all-around great game for the Eagles. The sophomore had 13 assists, six digs and three kills. She also showed a maturity that belied her age.
“We lost to them last year so we were really motivated to come out in our first game and make a statement,” Shultz said. “We definitely fed off the crowd today, whenever we would get a great point and looked up at our student section, we could hear our families and everyone cheering with us. It gave us a boost of confidence for the next point.”
Both teams were feeling each out through the tight first set — no one had more than a three-point lead until Shanahan pulled away with its consistent hitting to record a 25-20 triumph.
West came out strong to begin the second set. They started to click as a team and held a lead to force a Shanahan timeout. The brief break seemed to steady the Eagles as they clawed their way back into set, and eventually won, 25-21.
Senior Emily Ahern led West with nine kills, junior Sophie Gelling was right behind her with eight kills. Regina Schetroma piled up 16 digs.
“We lost a few key members from our team last year — hitting may be equal to last year — but passing will be key factor to our success,” West’s coach Dave Parrish said.
The third set was just as noisy as the first point of the game as Shanahan led all the way  and closed out the match, 25-17.
“Game three is what I hoped the entire match would be like, we started to figure out some things, develop relationships out on the court and it clicked a little more naturally,” Ashman said. “I give (Downingtown West) a lot of credit though, they are a great team, they play good defense. They do not have the same power as last year, but they are smart which makes them dangerous.”
Shanahan visits Henderson on Thursday, while Whippets have a nonleague match at Ridley today.

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