Upper Merion rolls past overmatched Wissahickon

LOWER GWYNEDD >> It’s become death and taxes.

When the girls volleyball season begins, the favorite in the Suburban One League American Conference is named Upper Merion, and the only mystery is how much the Vikings will dominate.

Thursday afternoon at Wissahickon High School, the only mystery was whether Upper Merion head coach Tony Funsten would get to the match against host Wissahickon on time.

He did, the rest went pretty much as expected.

Upper Merion thumped its hosts, 25-9, 25-4, 25-4 in a match that had all the tension and drama of a duel between Ted Nugent and any four-legged critter in his crosshairs.

Upper Merion's Danielle Chung spikes the ball during the game against Wissahickon. Thursday, September 10, 2015. Adrianna Hoff—The Times Herald.
Upper Merion’s Danielle Chung spikes the ball during the Vikings’ match against Wissahickon. on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. (Adrianna Hoff/—The Times Herald)

Ironically, the Vikings proclaimed that this year they’re undergoing a bit of a rebuild.

“It’s not really a rebuild unless you’re replacing your setter,” Funsten said, “but we’re a lot different than we were over the past three years.”

The difference is primarily in height, as the Vikings are missing the likes of Nikki Carpenter and Erin Brady, who made the Vikings talented and Big.

“We were strong, physically,” Funsten said, “and we were tall.

“This year, our biggest girls are 5-6, 5-7 and we have four freshmen playing meaningful minutes.”

There was no sign of drop off Thursday, as the Vikings blew open a tight first set, pulling away from an 8-5 score to take 17 of the last 21 points to win going away.

From there, things went downhill for the Trojans, who with several key players out due to injury were vulnerable to begin with.

“We need to get bigger and we need to stop getting hurt,” said Trojans head coach Daniel Halstead. “When we’re going right we’re a good, competitive team, as good as most teams we play.

“We usually don’t get blown out like that.”

Meanwhile, the Vikings understand they have to compensate for their size “deficiencies.”

“We lost some really big players,” said Upper Merion’s Emma Andraka. “We have to be better defensively and at returning serve.

“We definitely knew we’d struggle a little bit this year. We lost eight seniors and a lot of height.

“But we knew Mr. Fusnten, no matter what the team looked like, would be able to make it all good.”

Things didn’t improve for Wissahickon, which fell behind, 8-3, in the second set, and then watched the Vikings close it out with 15 of the set’s final 16 points.

It was more of the same in the third set, as the visitors built a 19-1 lead and coasted from there.

“Our expectations are the same,” Funsten said. “We feel we can beat anybody.

“Next year, we’ll be rebuilding, and we’ll even be smaller. But our expectations won’t change.”

NOTES: Funsten arrived late as he was trying to get in some scouting at nearby Upper Dublin, and saw his car fall victim to a puddle. He had to call his son to bail him out and get him to the match on time.

Top Photo: Upper Merion’s Micaela Ghanayem volleys the ball back during the Vikings’ match against Wissahickon on Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. (Adrianna Hoff/—The Times Herald)

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