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Bishop Shanahan’s Coco Shultz, Maddie Rudolph are Daily Local News 2021 Girls Volleyball Co-Players of the Year

The Bishop Shanahan girls volleyball team had a memorable 2021 campaign, re-capturing the Ches-Mont League and PIAA District 1 4A titles and advancing to the PIAA 4A state semifinal. The Eagles’ road to the 2021 state semifinal was paved with key victories against higher-seeded teams, as well as thrilling comeback victories.
Leading the Eagles’ long flight in the post-season were their co-Most Valuable Players, senior captains Coco Shultz and Maddie Rudolph, who both received All-District 1 and all-state honors, and have been named the 2021 Daily Local News Girls’ Volleyball Co-Players of the Year.
This is the third time that Bishop Shanahan has produced Daily Local News Girls’ Volleyball Co-Players of the Year.
Shultz and Rudolph travelled different routes to the top.
Shultz, who started playing club volleyball at age 9, grew up surrounded by three older sisters who also made their mark in volleyball at Bishop Shanahan – two of them are former Daily Local News Girls Volleyball Players of the Year.
Rudolph did not play club volleyball until 8th grade, but has improved her game rapidly the last couple of years, to the point where Shanahan head coach Greg Ashman calls her “unstoppable against the top talent in the area and the state.”
Shultz is a cerebral 6-rotation player who led the Eagles in digs this fall, and was called “the glue that held this team together” by Ashman, while Rudolph led the Eagles in kills and hitting percentage in 2021.
Both Shultz and Rudolph led the way for Shanahan’s remarkable, never-say-die 2021 season.
“No one picked us to win the Ches-Mont League this year, and no one picked us to win the district title,” noted Ashman.
Rudolph said, “Many people didn’t think that it was possible that we would take back the Ches-Mont and District 1 title, but we worked very hard every day, kept our heads up, and worked together to achieve our goals. We didn’t let other people’s expectations of us define the way our season was going to go.”
Shanahan roared through the Ches-Mont League schedule this fall undefeated, and beat Unionville – the reigning league and District 1 champ – by a 3-2 margin in the regular season.
“That win against our rival Unionville is my favorite memory of the season,” said Shultz. “It paved the way for our Ches-Mont
championship. I loved the energy in our gym that night, and this match was the turning point of our season.”
Shanahan was a No. 3 seed entering the PIAA District 1 4A tournament, but knocked off No. 2 seed Unionville, 3-1, in the district semifinals, then topped top seed Council Rock North, 3-1, in the district championship game Nov. 4.
In the PIAA 4A state quarterfinals Nov. 13, Shanahan fell behind 2-0 to Garnet Valley and trailed 15-8 in the third set. Twice the Eagles were one point away from elimination, trailing 24-22 in the third set and 24-23 in the fourth set, but both times Shanahan rallied to win (29-27 and 26-24), then captured the deciding set to advance to the state semifinal.
“My favorite memory of the season was beating Garnet Valley in the state quarterfinal,” said Rudolph. “At so many points of that game, we were down, with the end of the season on the line. Our team kept our composure, trusted each other, and worked cohesively to persevere through the rest of the match. That was an extremely stressful game, but not a single player showed any type of worry. I was super proud of all of my teammates after that match, and it showed how much grit our team has.”
Speaking of grit, Shultz comes from a family who knows how to bounce back from adversity. Her father, Ed, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1986 but went on to become only the fifth five-year football letterman at Army, the first since 1929. His comeback was profiled in the Oct. 3, 1988 issue of Sports Illustrated.
My dad sparked my interest in volleyball,” said Shultz. “He coached me when I was in middle school and is a huge reason why I continue to play the game after almost 10 years. He is a huge mentor of mine, as well as each of my sisters (Rita, Renee, Cara).”
Both Renee and Cara Shultz have received Daily Local News Girls Volleyball Player of the Year awards in prior years.
“I try to keep in touch with all three of them pretty consistently even though we all have very busy schedules,” said Shultz. “It’s comforting talking to them since they have been in the same exact position as me, and they are always a shoulder to lean on despite going through their own collegiate seasons.
“Renee always gives me fresh perspective as someone who’s almost through college and in a completely different stage of life, and Cara is a great person to talk volleyball with since I played with her during my freshman and sophomore years. Rita, my oldest sister, provides insight as an ex-Shanahan volleyball player and an all-around great person.”
Ashman noted, “What makes Coco different form her sisters is that she is a cerebral player, always thinking and trying to outdo her opponents. Coco has the power, all the shots and when a team thinks they have stopped her she pulls out the tip or roll shot to get the point. What also makes her an outstanding player is her ability to play in the backrow and from the service line. What also makes Coco such a standout is that she has the leadership qualities that her teammates all look up to on and off the court.”
Shultz said, “Being a leader on this team has taught me that remaining calm and relying on my teammates when I am down is crucial to our success. My coaches throughout the years have helped me develop in this aspect, which has only deepened my love for the sport.”
Like Shultz, Rudolph credits her family as a support system, and mentions her 17s club coach, Roberta McGuiney, as her biggest volleyball mentor.
“Roberta has taught me to compete and work hard no matter who is watching and what type of game I am playing in, and she also taught me that the most important person to believe in me is myself,” said Rudolph. “My freshman year I never would have believed that I would be where I am now because I lacked self-confidence.”
Ashman has noted Rudolph’s rapid improvement the past couple of years.
Rudolph said, “I think that the biggest keys to my improvement have been goal setting, hard work, determination, and encouragement from my parents, coaches, and teammates. I am very thankful for every school and club coach that I have had for seeing potential in me and shaping me into the player I have become.”
Ashman said, “Maddie displays pure athleticism and grace when she plays. She has the ability to take over a match from both the front row and the backrow, when she is ‘in the zone’ she is very difficult to stop. She is a joy to coach and watch play as she is always trying to get better and be the best. Maddie’s energy is contagious both in practices and in matches – she lifts the level of her teammates and challenges them to be the best.”
Rudolph said, “I think it’s really special that we received this award together because it’s been ‘Coco and Maddie’ since freshman year. She’s a great teammate and an even better friend!
“I think the most valuable things that Coco brought to the volleyball team are consistentcy and leadership. Coco is a solid all-around player who always has my back when I am down. We could always count on her if we needed a point or an energy boost. She is an awesome leader who is loved and respected by her teammates. It’s been such a fun experience play volleyball with Coco over the last four years.”
Shultz said, “I think the most valuable thing I think Maddie brought to the team this fall was her leadership. Everyone on the Shanahan volleyball team looks up to Maddie as their role model, and she did an awesome job of leading the team to success. Personally, I relied on her a lot as my teammate and co-captain, and her presence on the court was crucial. I am glad to have gone through these past four years with Maddie, in Shanahan, club volleyball, and everything in between.”
Next fall, Shultz will play volleyball for Franklin & Marshall College, and is thinking of majoring in Political Science and Economics. Rudolph will play volleyball for Colgate University.

 

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