Rustin rolls past Henderson in districts
Knights drop first set, power past rivals
WESTTOWN >> In its first home playoff game in school history, West Chester Rustin fed off the energy of its crowd to beat crosstown rival Henderson Tuesday night, three sets to one, 16-25, 25-14, 25-16, 25-21.
“It was a great experience because we had a huge crowd,” senior Amanda Fichter said. “We expected a good crowd but not that many. I feel like the first game wasn’t that great but once [the crowd] picked it up then we picked it up and everything came together.”
The Golden Knights’ student section cheered on its team to a victory in the District 1 4A playoff matchup.
After losing the first set, Rustin settled in and momentum shifted its way to sweep the next three sets.
“Henderson is a tough team so you can’t underestimate them,” said Rustin head coach Harry Bitzberger. “We beat them during the season so we expected them to come in and try to get us. We get very excited early so part of our challenge is to settle down. And once we settle down we get into a groove. I think we got a little too far down into the game before we settled down.”
Sophomore Emma Nelson played consistently and whenever the team needed a point she was there to provide it. Nelson
led the team in kills with 19 kills in 22 attempts.
Callie McGinnis lead to team with 39 assists and helped set up Nelson.
Nelson also had the game-winning kill to seal the game and move the Golden Knights to the next round of the playoffs.
“I think once we got Emma Nelson involved,” Bitzberger said. “Emma swings really well from the outside and is an overall good player. Once we were able to get the ball to her our passing improved and we racked up some points.”
Henderson took the first set 25-16 and capitalized on Rustin’s miscommunications and misjudgments on a handful of plays. Rustin wouldn’t take a lead over Henderson until the second set.
The Golden Knights played sloppy in the first set, misjudging Henderson’s shots by the line and suffering from some miscommunication.
Henderson’s Alli Trench had 16 kills and four digs for her team, while Allie DeAbreu helped set up her teammates with 35 assists.
“Give all the credit to Rustin, they are a great volleyball team,” said Henderson head coach Greta Neff. “They hit the ball hard from all kinds of angles. They earned it tonight. I couldn’t be more proud. I don’t think anyone thought we would be in the playoffs at this point, with losing the players we did from last year. So, I’m just so proud of the girls for hanging in there.”
Rustin will take on No. 4 Downingtown West in its next playoff game Thursday. West won their last matchup on October 10 in five sets.
West Chester Rustin’s Kaia Johnson fires a shot past Henderson’s Fiona Pyfer (11) and Gabi Whoriskey (2) as the Golden Knights defeated the Warriors, 3 games to 1, in the first round of the District 1 tournament Tuesday night.