Unbeaten Shanahan trounces Great Valley
Unbeaten Shanahan trounces Garnet Valley
CONCORD >> In a regular season showdown between two of the premier volleyball squads in all of District 1, Bishop Shanahan swept host Garnet Valley, 3-0, to remain unbeaten at 13-0.
It wasn’t easy, however, for the visiting Eagles, who currently sit atop the district power rankings. The Jaguars – still unbeaten in Central League action – pushed Shanahan to the brink in the first two sets before falling 2519 and 25-23. The Eagles then closed it out by cruising to a 25-16 decision in set No. 3.
“This was a big test. We came in knowing this was important and we would have to be focused and play to the best of our abilities, and I think we did,” said Shanahan junior Renee Shultz.
“It was a great matchup,” added her coach, Greg Ashman. “I told our kids that this is one of those teams that is going to give us trouble. But we held our composure very well, and it’s always tough going into someone else’s gym, especially when it’s real loud.
“(Garnet Valley is) fourth in the District 1 power rankings, but I think they are better than the two teams ahead of them.”
Despite the setback, which dropped Garnet Valley to 11-2 overall, head coach Mark Clark was pleased with the way his team performed, especially on defense.
“Our defense was awesome and if we can keep that up, we will be able to play with any team,” Clark said. “Shanahan
is not just the No. 1 team in the district, but No. 2 in the state. We hung with them the first two games and then it got away from us a little in the third, but we never gave up.”
In the opening set, the Jags jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead, but the Eagles scored eight of the next 10 points to take the lead for good. Shanahan then finished on a 10-4 run.
“We seem to have slow starts, but we tend to get rolling as we go along,” Ashman explained. “One of our strengths is power at the net, both with our swing and our block.”
The second set sure looked like a clash between the Ches-Mont League standard bearer against a Central League power. In all, there were 14 ties, including every point from 15 to 23. But the Eagles pulled it out thanks to a kill by Michaela Devlin and a service ace from freshman Cara Shultz, Renee’s younger sister.
“There are just a few little things here and there that was the difference,” Clark said.
With Cara Shultz leading the way, Shanahan put together another rally in the third set, to open a commanding 21-11 lead. And although Garnet Valley fought back, the Eagles ended it with consecutive kills by Renee Shultz, Ceandra Ashman. Alexa Marcum and Julia Thomas.
“We can sustain long rallies, which is a credit to our defense. We work on that very hard. Nothing deflates an opponent more than a long rally,” Ashman said.
“It’s important to get momentum and keep with it,” Renee Shultz added. “I am proud of the way we did that. We celebrated the points we got and we picked each other up on the ones we didn’t.”
For a big chunk of the action, Cara Shultz was the dominant player on the floor. The freshman finished with 15 kills, four aces and 13 digs.
“It’s definitely been a transition,” she said. “There are girls out there that are three years older than me, and they have so much more experience than I do. I just have to keep adjusting.”
Cara is the third Shultz sister to play for Shanahan, along with Rita and Renee. The freshman’s ascent has not been much of a surprise to Ashman.
“Maybe the one thing that’s surprised me is how well she is handling the pressure of playing varsity volleyball,” he said. “In our first match of
the season, she was blocked a couple times right away. I remember sitting down and saying to her, ‘welcome to high school volleyball.’ It’s different now because she is playing against 18-year-olds and not kids who are 15 or 16.”
Renee Shultz, chipped in with nine kills, 15 assists, seven digs and two blocks. It may surprise some to learn that the Eagles are actually quite young, with only two seniors playing in the top 10 rotation.
“We are a very young team, and there are times in matches where we’ve been nothing but underclassmen on the court,” Ashman said. “That’s why we tell the kids, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We are a whole team, and we can plug a lot of people in there.”
Nicole Loan and Erin Paterson paced the Jaguars with nine and seven kills, respectively. In addition, teammates Gabby Davis (25 assists) and Lizzie Herestofa (26 digs) also contributed.
“We were playing to win, but I’m happy with the way we played,” Clark said. “Shanahan had so many weapons all over the floor, and we haven’t seen anything like that all season.
“This will definitely get us ready for the rest of the regular season and on into the postseason.”
Bishop Shanahan’s Cara Shultz drills a ball past Garnet Valley’s Sydney Portale on Wednesday.
Julianne Gallagher of Bishop Shanahan returns a Garnet Valley serve Wednesday.
Alyssa Wright (7) and Michaela Devlin (28) of Bishop Shanahan go up to block Garnet Valley’s Nicole Loan during Wednesday’s nonleague volleyball match.