Pennsbury gets the best of Council Rock North, this time around

FAIRLESS HILLS – Pennsbury toppled Council Rock North in the first two sets last night (Sept. 10) in what was the league opener for the Lady Falcons. The score wasn’t even close: Pennsbury won both sets, 25-14.

Yet somehow, you just knew the Lady Indians would bounce back.

Sure enough, Rock North did just that.

Trailing game three, 17-13, the Indians closed out the third set with a 12-6 run that earned them a 25-23 triumph. Junior Johanna Batterton registered a critical ace to lock things up at 17-all, classmate Morgan Collito added another to put Rock on top 20-18, middle blocker Danae Barkley pushed a ball over the net to break a 21-all tie, and the final dagger was an ace by senior Katie Rentz (6 kills, 6 aces, 11 digs).

Ignited by the 25-23 win in the third set, the Indians played with mounds more confidence after that.

Word was that youthful North was nervous coming into the matchup.

“We were just down on ourselves in the first two matches,” said Collito, who finished the match with 6 kills, 1 aces, 5 digs and one block. “Once we got ourselves back in high spirits and got rolling again, we lost all of our nerves and everything was fine.

“We started working as a team instead of by ourselves.”

Missing former players Krista Campbell, Hailey Burns and Carson Easterly, the Indians have several sophomores in the lineup this year. While Rock opened the season Tuesday, Sept. 8 with a 3-0 win over William Tennent, this was Pennsbury, after all.

“Coming in, we were definitely nervous but once we realized they were beatable, we started playing better,” added Collito. “Yeah, we lost but we came back.”

Did they ever!

Rentz began game four the same way she wrapped up game three – with an ace. However, the Falcons reeled off five straight points including a pair of aces by senior Ali Zinnen to go up 5-1.

North answered with an 8-3 run capped by a kill by Rentz and an ace by Collito that had the Indians up 9-8. Rock’s next run, topped off with a pair of aces by sophomore Maddie Moore put the Indians on top 18-13.

North continued to pressure. Leading 19-15, Rock posted a 5-1 run highlighted by a pair of corner kills registered by senior Alyssa Kuiken that put the Indians up 24-16.

While Pennsbury posted the next five points including kills by sophomore Julia Vreeswyk and senior Ellie Patterson (20 kills), the Rock tied the match at two games apiece when the Falcons committed a hitting error that gave North a 25-21 triumph.

“Our adrenaline was pumping the first two games like it is for every Pennsbury-North match,” said Pennsbury head coach Mike Falter. “When they started to play better in that third and fourth match, we kind of got a little tight

“We started playing not to lose. We didn’t rely on the fundamentals that won us the first two sets.”

That wasn’t the case in game five.

The Falcons went up 3-1 on Vreeswyk’s kill then extended their edge to 7-3 on a nice touch over the net by Patterson. Two more kills by Vreeswyk and a pair of points registered by senior Kate Foley (35 assists, 9 kills, 3 aces) put Pennsbury on top 12-8.

“She contributes so much to the team as a swinger, as a defensive player,” said Zinnen. “It’s unbelievable; she’s so talented.

“She did really well defending the back line.”

Council Rock came up with a block and the Falcons committed a hitting error to make it 12-10 but a ball dropped after a battle at the net between Foley and North junior Hadley Grundman, putting Pennsbury up 13-10.

Foley set up Patterson beautifully for the 14 point and senior libero Dagney Gould closed the set and the match out in favor of the Falcons with a game-ending ace.

“I think with a big rivalry game like this you always have the intensity to keep pushing,” added Zinnen.

“By that third game and fourth game, we were really tired because we really just killed it the first two games. By the fifth game, we had to reassess our errors and come back out with full intensity.”

“We came up with a team mission statement at the beginning of the season and it embodies the fact that you’re going to play for the girls next to you and you’re going to embrace the pressure whenever it arises,” added Falter.

“They stepped it up and they started playing with more confidence.”

Winners of the Suburban One League National Conference crown last season, Pennsbury returns to the court with a senior-laden lineup that includes Foley, Patterson, Gould, Zinnen and defensive specialist Sydney French.

In the postseason, the Falcons defeated No. 23 seed CB West in a District 1 opener then lost in five sets to No. 7 Downingtown East in the Round of 16. North was seeded 18th and lost to No. 15 Penncrest.

Pennsbury opened the season with a 3-0 win Sept. 8 at home over Southern Lehigh.

“They’re a very strong team and we haven’t beaten them since I’ve been here,” said Foley. “beating them gave us a lot of confidence.”

The Falcons take the court this season without the services of former players Ava Patterson, an outside hitter, and Brandi Steiner and Lauren Bransfield, both middle blockers for Pennsbury in 2014.

With an impressive 2-0 start, the Falcons don’t seem like they’ve skipped a beat without the trio in the lineup.

With new head coach Mike Adams at the helm, Rock North also looks to have rebounded without their departees. The Indians are looking forward to the rematch with Pennsbury Oct. 5 on their home court the same way the Falcons are eyeing their Oct. 2 matchup at Downingtown East.

Looks like some competitive play is in the future for both squads, moving forward.

NOTES: CR North sophomore Grace Schweizer finished with 17 digs and provided solid service from the libero position. The Indians gave Pennsbury their only league loss last season.

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