WHITEMARSH >> In the mid-to-late stages of all three sets of a District 1-4A second-round match, No. 13 Spring-Ford and No. 4 Plymouth Whitemarsh were within a couple points. The host Colonials led 16-14 in the first set and 19-17 in the third while the visiting Rams led 21-20 in the second.
All three sets were up for grabs and all three times Spring-Ford came out on top. The Rams swept Plymouth Whitemarsh 25-20, 25-20, 25-19 to advance to the quarterfinals against No. 5 Pennsbury Saturday.
“We’re starting to grow more confidence,” S-F’s Dannica Fuller said. “We won the first game of district playoffs and won that in three. We had a little bit more confidence coming in to this one – like we deserve to be here, we worked hard enough to be here. That made it so we’re just feeling more confident about being able to finish out games.”
“I think we really realized that we had to focus in and pay attention to what we were doing,” S-F’s Lila Olsen added, “and still have fun while doing it. We realized at the end we have to clutch up a little bit and keep focusing and just pull it all together to finish it out.”
Spring-Ford (17-5) turned around the first set with an 8-0 run to improve a 16-14 deficit to a 22-16 lead. Fuller won a long, back-and-forth point with a kill to put the Rams ahead 17-16 and Olsen followed with a kill and two aces on the next four points. PW got within three at 22-19 but, but S-F closed out the set, 25-20, for a 1-0 lead.
“Actually, I had a pretty bad serving wamup,” Olsen, who served during the 8-0 outburt, said. “That came as a little bit of a shock to me, but once I serve one place I can continue to keep serving there. That’s just what I did and it worked.”
After trading the first 10 points of the second set, Spring-Ford took a 6-5 lead and called timeout. Fuller was recognized for the 1,000th assist of her career.
“It was my goal from the start of this season to be able to reach 1,000 assists,” Fuller, who had 26 helpers in the win, said. “I was able to do it and I’m so happy.
“If we didn’t make it this far I wouldn’t have gotten a thousand assists. I can’t even express how happy I am to have been able to play with this team and make it this far in the playoffs.”
The assist started a 6-0 run that saw the Rams move in front, 11-5. They led the rest of the way, but Plymouth Whitemarsh got within one twice – 16-15 and 21-20. The Colonials thought they tied the match at 21, but it was ruled that a shot went out of bounds without touching a Spring-Ford player. Olsen tallied three straight kills to close out the set, 25-20, and give her side a 2-0 lead.
Plymouth Whitemarsh built its biggest lead of the night three times in the third set – 10-6, 13-9 and 16-12. The Colonials final lead was 19-17. Olsen put the Rams ahead, 20-19, with a kill and Marley Angelucci finished things off with an ace for a 25-19 win to complete the sweep.
“When we needed to push the push wasn’t happening,” PW coach Dave Stewart said of the end of sets. “Their kids, for lack of better terms, were just bearing down and making some good hard swings. We were making defensive swings just trying to put the ball on the court and they were attacking us.
“I think our kids were honestly a step slow tonight. I think the week off was a little bit tough on them. They just never really got themselves going the way we typically do. At the same time, you can’t really give excuses. (Spring-Ford) came in and controlled play for the majority of the match. Their outsides were phenomenal and we just didn’t really have an answer for that. It’s one of those things – give credit where credit is due. They came in and took care of business tonight.”
Lauren Angelucci led the Rams with 14 kills and 10 digs while Olsen had 13 kills and four aces. Marley Angelucci added 13 assists and Alanna Bricker had nine digs.
Plymouth Whitemarsh’s season ends with the loss. The Colonials went 16-4 and won the Suburban One League American Conference championship.
“You look at the season and it’s certainly disappointing for it to end this way,” Stewart said. “The kids are struggling with it, too. I think their thought process was that we were going to be in a much better place at this particular time and I felt that we were as well. I didn’t expect for us to come out and not execute tonight, but some things happen and that’s the way it goes.
“To go 12-0 in conference, to go up against some of the best teams – at one point we played six of the top eight teams in the district rankings and the kids did a great job. We were 6-2 out of that. I thought they did a really great job to do that. I felt we were in a pretty good place to come into playoffs and to make a deep run. It’s a shame to have it end this way.”