Chelsea Jones, Madison McCunney and Mallorie Estock made it abundantly clear after Sun Valley’s 3-0 win over Pennridge Tuesday night that they were fully aware of the beast that awaited them in the second round of the District One Class AAA tournament.
Yes, behind that appealing second-round door is Strath Haven. That’s the same Panthers outfit that bludgeoned the Vanguards, 3-0, to open the season. Since then, all Strath Haven is done is win the Central League and put forth a strong showing against some of the area’s elite teams to earn the No. 4 seed and a bye in the first round of districts.
“Oh my God, I’m so excited,” said Jones, who had 21 assists and 19 kills in the win over the Rams. “I play club with Bridget (Scott) and I’ve known Alice (Roberts) for a while. They crushed us the first game that we had them, so I’m ready. We know who they go to and where they go, so we’re trying to rotate our defense to where we should go.”
Yeah, if only it were that easy. Scott and Roberts are the headliners, but freshman Brianna Fisher is already showing the potential that will make her a highly-coveted college recruit down the road, and the Panthers have firmed up their defense significantly. Strath Haven coach Kevin Haney is also getting nice contributions from Rachel Vresilovic and Ellie Stief, among others, so the Panthers can go to a bunch of different looks to keep Sun Valley off-guard.
Not that the Vanguards are scared, though.
“I love it,” Estock said. “But it’s a redemption match for us, so I’m really excited to play them.”
“I’m so hyped,” McCunney offered. “We got crushed us our first game and they’re a beatable team and I just really want to beat them. Last year, (2012 Daily Times Player of the Year) Sharay (Barnes) was on the team and I wanted to crush them. They’re just a team I want to crush.”
No, please, Madison. Tell us how you really feel. Don’t hold back. All told, this will be a lot more competitive from the first time around, but it’s hard to go against the red-hot Panthers, especially with some added rest.
The pick: Strath Haven 3, Sun Valley 1
Penncrest sweeps, Garnet Valley pulls away
The Lions ousted Central Bucks South, 3-0, while the Jaguars survived a scare to put away Perkiomen Valley, 3-1. What’s cool about the Lions is that it seems like it’s always somebody new leading the team to a win. Andrea Hartman is in the All-Delco conversation, but other than that, Penncrest doesn’t have a bonafide star. Give Diana Balta another year or two, though, then I won’t be able to say that again. But if you look at the Lions’ stat lines, it’s always balanced, which is a good thing to have for coach Jen Shrader.
The Gargiule sisters, Nikki and Gianna, handle the setting duties, while the Hunt twins, Amanda and Sam, split the job at the net, and both sets of sisters are more than adequate at what they do. Things get dicey tonight, though, because Bishop Shanahan is legit. The Eagles are coming off the first loss to Downingtown East in school history, which cost them a Ches-Mont League title, and they’ve had an extra night to think about it.
The pick: Bishop Shanahan 3, Penncrest 1
Garnet Valley had its hands full with a much better than advertised Perkiomen Valley team. Here, let coach Mark Clark tell you about it.
“”There’s no way they’re a 27 seed,” Clark said. “They’re huge. I don’t care what anybody says. They’re a good team.”
The Jaguars aren’t overly big, which might be their lone real weakness, so a big Vikings team was able to get a game from them and push the finale to 27-25. Perkiomen Valley had a strong tournament showing, beating teams that were seeded ahead of it, but tournaments don’t count in the District One meeting. The Vikings handled No. 22 Downingtown West twice and No. 24 Great Valley, so this wasn’t your average 27 seed.
Both Clark and I are running out of superlatives to describe Jenna Hostetler‘s play this year. She played “amazing, amazing, amazing defense”, according to Clark, and also served up seven aces because she has a filthy serve that gives everyone trouble. Elise Cummings continues to be dependable and consistent as she posted 23 assists.
The reward for that win? A date with No. 11 Pennsbury at 5 p.m. The teams have matching 3-1 losses to Strath Haven this month, so this should be a classic. Take the Jaguars on their home court, though.
The pick: Garnet Valley 3, Pennsbury 2
Haverford, Springfield and Ridley bow out
We didn’t receive any stats for the Haverford game, other than the fact that Central Bucks East won, 3-0, so I can’t tell you much more about that one. But goodness, you have to feel for Springfield. The Cougars played well enough to take a 2-0 lead over host Unionville – Rebecca Bennett led the team with 15 kills – but couldn’t hang on late.
“It was the best I have ever seen them play,” Springfield coach Ashley Murrin said of her team. “They were phenomenal.”
Murrin is awfully high on Chloe Williams‘ potential and Williams showed why against the Indians, pairing six kills with five blocks. You have to think Springfield will be a pain to deal with next year.
A young Ridley team wasn’t able to stick around with Spring-Ford, but it’s just the beginning of something special for the Green Raiders. Mary Kate Rumbaugh, the team’s heart and soul, is gone, as is Molly Donegan, but there’s a very special 2016 class that will help coach Kristen Schaffer contend for the school’s first Central League title since 2006 very soon. Keep an eye on Amy Staiber, Melanie Malseed, Molly Murtha and Carlee Herrin in that class.
I’m headed to Strath Haven to watch the Panthers and Sun Valley tangle. Follow me on Twitter @MattChandik for updates on the 7 p.m. match.