WESTTOWN >> Setting the tone and starting fast is something every team aims to accomplish in any sport. The West Chester Rustin Golden Knights girls volleyball team did just that in a 3-0 victory over visiting Conestoga in a District 1 Class 4A second round contest Thursday night.
Rustin now faces a familiar foe as it heads to top-seeded Bishop Shanahan on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
To open up the first set and kick off the match, Rustin would use a 14-point run off the service from setter Morgan Bitzberger to build a comfortable lead. Even a timeout taken after the score got up to 6-0 would not stall the Golden Knights’ hot start.
“It is amazing to get off to those kinds of starts to open the game,” said West Chester Rustin outside hitter Emma Nelson. “There are times when we struggle with having energy, but in this game, we came out firing and it really did set the pace for the rest of the game.”
Conestoga was unable to dig out of the hole it found itself in following the strong start as the Golden Knights would take the opening set by a score of 25-8.
Nelson had 15 kills to lead the Golden Knights on the night, while Emma Klanica had 10 kills and three blocks and Emily Supplee had 10 kills and eight digs.
Little would change in the second set, and this time it was a 10-point rally sparked by the serving of setter Olivia Statsen. Conestoga would creep into double digits, but the Pioneers’ efforts fell short in a deflating 25-14 second set defeat.
“I told the girls, if we were able to get off to a good start in the beginning and serve hard then it would give us a good chance to start off properly,” said West Chester Rustin head coach Harry Bitzberger.
After dropping the first two sets, the Warriors would put forth their best effort in the third set, limiting the long runs that Rustin had given them issues with all night and responding with a run of its own.
With the score sitting at 18-8 in favor of the Golden Knights in the third set, Conestoga outside hitter Olivia Rainbow stepped back to serve and would spark a four-point rally (the largest of the evening) to trim the lead to 18-12, forcing Bitzberger to take his first timeout of the game.
West Chester Rustin would come back on the court and give its best baseball closer impression, using a 7-3 run to shut the door on the Pioneers’ season, as it took a 25-15 win in the set for a match victory.
Morgan Bitzberger had 17 assists and three aces, Olivia Stasen had 14 assists and two aces, and Annmarie Patterson had 12 digs.
“I give credit to Rustin, that performance was as solid and good that you can play and we just did not show up tonight,” said Conestoga head coach Diana Falker. “They served us off the floor tonight, we had small burst throughout the game but they shut us down quickly.”
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