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Bishop Shanahan rallies for sweep against host Rustin

Westtown >> The Bishop Shanahan girls’ volleyball team rolled to a 3-0 win against host West Chester Rustin Wednesday evening – but the victory for the undefeated Eagles (3-0) did not come as easily as the score indicates.
In the first game against Rustin, who advanced to the District 1 4A quarterfinals last fall, the visitors trailed during most of the contest, and were behind 23-21 when a kill by Shanahan senior all-state outside hitter Coco Shultz sparked a four-point Eagles rally and a 25-23 win.
Shanahan then won the next two games, 25-14 and 25-20.
“We’re concentrating on our side of the net more than anything else; we’re trying to clean up what we’re doing on our side of the net,” said Ashman. “We can’t scout other teams at this point, we’ve got to fix what we’re doing.”
Shanahan, who advanced to the PIAA 4A state championship final in 2019, 2018 and 2017, has hopes of making a run at the state title again this season – the Eagles returned a large number of players from last year’s District 1 4A semifinalists.
“[Right now] we’re making a lot of mistakes on our side of the net, and we can’t be that great team [again] until we get better on our side of the net,” said Ashman. “That’s been our focus the last two weeks.”
For the Rustin contest, Ashman used a different lineup than in prior games.
“We changed some personnel around – not necessarily new people, just different people in different spots, just to give us some different looks and to take advantage of some things,” said Ashman. “We’re challenging our players to start thinking of the game at another level. Hopefully, that will keep them more focused and more disciplined in the game. That’s our biggest challenge right now, our focus and our discipline, and our execution of that discipline.”
In the second game against Rustin Wednesday, Shanahan moved out to an early 13-6 lead, helped by kills from the Eagles’ all-state duo of Shultz and senior outside hitter/middle blocker Maddie Rudolph.
The Eagles gradually increased their lead in the second game and rolled to a 25-14 win to take a 2-0 lead. One of the keys to Shanahan’s success against Rustin was freshman libero Maddie Metcalf.
“She came into this program and has earned that [varsity] jersey; every time she steps on the court she’s getting better,” said Ashman. “I love her attitude, she’s always going for everything. She has a great sense of being able to read the ball and to see what’s happening. She’s steps ahead of where she should be at this point as a freshman.”
In the third game Wednesday, Rustin battled Shanahan closely, trailing by only 10-9 midway through the contest, thanks to kills from Golden Knight sophomore Jane Nelson and senior Hannah Lucenius. But Shanahan prevailed, building a small but definite lead later in the game and winning 25-20.
Ashman praised the work of Shanahan setters Allison Monaco and Audrey Sautner.
“We’ve been running two setters; we lost one of our setters [Amelia Devlin] to injury, and we’re hoping she’ll be back in a week or so,” said Ashman. “It’s unfortunate that Amelia’s injured but [Monaco and Sautner] have stepped up. Alli brings a ton of energy to the court, really works the hitters, moves the ball around, gets everybody involved. Audrey has been playing well and is a sophomore – she’s got a lot of future ahead of her.”
For West Chester Rustin (1-5), Nelson finished with 16 kills Wednesday and Lucenius tallied six. Nelson, a 6-foot outside hitter who received Daily Local News All-Area girls’ volleyball honors as a freshman, was referred to by Golden Knights head coach Casey Pyszczymuka in the pre-season as “a very strong and seasoned 6 rotation player with a high contact point and significant power.”
Rustin senior Julie Blazey finished with 18 digs Wednesday and senior setter Sophia Maniscalco also contributed.
“Sophia was able to push things around, she was able to keep the [Shanahan] defense guessing,” said Pyszczymuka. “I think that Julie’s hustle in the back really kept us alive [defensively].”
Pyszczymuka, a first-year head coach at Rustin (and a former Shanahan assistant coach), noted that the Golden Knights’ ability to mix up the offense has improved.
“We’ve been able to incorporate the middles a lot more than in the beginning of the season,” said Pyszczymuka. “In the first game tonight, I think we showed more of what we are capable of. Our players have been working hard and improving; the players have been staying positive, and it’s nice to see their improvement, even with our [won-loss] record. Our JV team is 6-1, so we have a promising future. We’re rebuilding the program; we’ll get there.”

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