BUCKINGHAM >> For a No. 28 seed in the PIAA District 1-AAA tournament, William Tennent had a lot going for as it traveled to Central Bucks East Tuesday night for an opening round match up.
For starters, the Panthers already played the fifth-seeded Patriots early in the month and gave them a tough match as Tennent grabbed the first game and pushed East to the limit in the second. Unfortunately for Tennent, both matches resulted in a loss, including a 3-0 (23-25, 14-25, 14-25) defeat Tuesday.
“We had a lead late in the first set and we lost the first set 25-23,” Tennent coach Brian Bassler said. “That was something I think took them by surprise. They knew they were in for fight with us. Their coach knew it right away, it’s not a typical 5-28 match
Tennent relied on playing a solid defensive game as senior Jamie George and sophomore Steph Woolston, each chipped in with seven digs apiece. Senior Alex Koppany was not far behind with six digs of her own.
“We play aggressively (and) we played really good defense,” Bassler said. “I think our girls came out early and said ‘hey let’s just throw everything to the wind and see what happens.’”
Offensively, Koppany added 14 assists to her all-time Tennent school record of 1,643 but the Panther offense struggled to bury shots against the tough East team. The Panthers were also at a disadvantage as they were without sophomore Nicole Long, who led the squad in kills for the regular season. Junior Laura Cochrane had a team-high four kills while fellow junior Lindsay Snock contributed three kills.
“We only had 14 kills as team and I think that a product of East being very aggressive on their serves,” Bassler said. “The fact that we played such good defense is wonderful and we keep some rallies going but it’s really hard to get into your offense when the other team is forcing the issue on you.”
Although the score might suggest the Patriots ran away with the game, the Panthers played them tight, taking the first game down to the last point and the second game was at one point tied at 13 before East closed on 12-1 run.
Another factor that Tennent had going for it heading into the match besides the prior head-to-head matchup with East was being battled tested by a tough non-conference schedule, a large reason why the Panthers finished the regular season 12-10 but 8-4 in the Suburban One League National Conference.
“We played (in the regular season) the five seed, the six seed, the 11, the 12 twice, the 17 and the 18 twice,” Bassler said of his team’s regular season schedule. “It was a highly competitive schedule and we did it on purpose.”
Tennent returns all but two seniors for next season and Bassler believes the district experience for his girls moving forward will be a huge piece to build on.
“The fact that (we didn’t make the playoff last year) we took a step back, not only playing but we took a step back mentally,” Bassler said. “We didn’t see that, we weren’t a part of it. You need that. You need to be in these competitive situations in order to raise your level of play so it was huge for us to get in.”