Shana­han proves its dom­i­nance vs. D-East


Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Neil Geoghe­gan ngeoghe­gan@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @NeilMGeoghe­gan on Twit­ter

Bishop Shana­han has dom­i­nated Ches-Mont vol­ley­ball so thor­oughly and for so long, some­body in the stu­dent sec­tion ac­tu­ally brought a broom to Thurs­day’s league show­down with un­beaten Down­ing­town East. And it wasn’t to help out the jan­i­to­rial staff.

And the un­blem­ished Ea­gles went out and some­how ex­ceeded those lofty ex­pec­ta­tions by sweep­ing the Cougars 25-20, 25-8, 25-11. It took just over an hour and was the vol­ley­ball equiv­a­lent of a mer­cyrule blowout.

“We had a mis­sion. There was a lot on the line,” said Shana­han head coach Greg Ash­man.

“Down­ing­town East is a fan­tas­tic pro­gram, but we played re­ally well,” added stand­out hit­ter Cara Shultz. “Our team as a whole re­ally rose the oc­ca­sion.”

Now 11-0 in the league (14-0 over­all), Shana­han clinched the Na­tional Di­vi­sion ti­tle and are two wins away from clos­ing out an­other Ches-Mont crown. As a pro­gram, the Ea­gles have not dropped a match to any District 1 op­po­nent in more than three cal­en­dar years.

“Shana­han is al­ways a good team, they played well, and from the get-go they put pres­sure on us,” said East head coach Peggy Hop­ton. “They have a lot of tal­ent.”

A win over the No. 3 team in the district 4A power rank­ings should so­lid­ify the Ea­gles’ po­si­tion at the top by per­cent­age points over Up­per Me­rion. And Ash­man said, in no un­cer­tain terms, that “we want the top seed.” But the win over East (10-1, 15-1 over­all) was also a mile­stone for Ash­man, who is in his 15th sea­son at the helm.

“It was a per­sonal thing tonight,” he ex­plained. “I don’t ask the girls for many fa­vors but I asked them to give me the 300th win (of my ca­reer).”

Shana­han re­sponded im­pres­sively, and did it with­out the full ser­vices of se­nior all-con­fer­ence libero Julie Gal­lagher, who is re­cov­er­ing from a con­cus­sion. She played spar­ingly but Grace Casagrande filled in seam­lessly.

“We have a ri­valry with (Down­ing­town East), and we wanted to give coach Greg his 300th win. So there were a lot of things go­ing on,” said se­nior hit­ter Michaela Devlin.

“We knew both teams were un­de­feated, so this was big,” Shultz added. “We’ve had some rough spells the last two or three matches, so this was re­fresh­ing.”

The Ea­gles staged great starts in each of the first two sets. It was 9-4 in the first and 8-3 in the se­cond, and Shultz was a force in clos­ing out both. A ju­nior who missed most of last sea­son with an in­jury, Shultz had two kills and an ace in the later stages of the ini­tial win, and then had two more im­pact­ful kills in the se­cond.

“Some­body said to me that (Shultz) should be il­le­gal – and I still have an­other year with her,” Ash­man said. “She is a phe­nom­e­nal player and is a kid that is al­ways try­ing to get bet­ter. I can’t imag­ine her ceil­ing if she con­tin­ues to progress the way she is.

“She is healthy and stronger than I’ve ever seen her. And she is play­ing very smart.”

The third set was tied six times early, but Gal­lagher served for four straight points to open a 10-6 lead. Hop­ton called two time­outs to try to slow down the mo­men­tum, but Shultz had three more kills, Brid­gette Kelly added two blocks the rest of the way as Shana­han cruised.

“I am very dis­ap­pointed we were un­able to give them more of a match,” said Hop­ton, who used all six of her al­lot­ted time­outs on Thurs­day.

“(Shana­han is) a good serv­ing team and they put pres­sure on us. That was the dif­fer­ence. They served a lot more than we did be­cause we weren’t win­ning points, and we didn’t pass well. And if you can’t pass, you can’t at­tack. And if you give them easy balls, they are com­ing back with a bomb.”

Shultz led the way with 12 kills and chipped in with 10 digs, two blocks and three aces. Devlin (seven kills, three blocks) and Ju­lia Thomas (three kills, six blocks) were also highly ef­fec­tive at the net.

“I didn’t ex­pect us to beat them in sin­gle dig­its. But it was def­i­nitely one of our bet­ter per­for­mances this sea­son,” Devlin said.

Ash­man said that it wasn’t the Ea­gles best out­ing this sea­son, but it was the best in a cou­ple weeks. He cred­ited his team’s abil­ity to take con­trol in the early go­ing.

“It we can take some hard swings and get a cou­ple big stuff blocks early, that de­mor­al­izes an op­po­nent. It plays right into our strengths. We are big across the net, but we are also do­ing things the right way. Our block­ers were re­ally work­ing hard.”

Vic­to­ria Ru­dolph had four kills for the Cougars and team­mate Rachel Wertz led the way with eight digs.

“You want your play­ers think­ing pos­i­tively and that the next point is a new game,” Hop­ton ex­plained. “What’s happened in the past al­ready happened, you have to look ahead. But it’s easy to train phys­i­cally, and harder to train men­tally.”


Bishop Shana­han’s Michaela Devlin (8), Ju­lia Thomas (15) and Cara Shultz (33) block a shot by Down­ing­town East’s Vic­to­ria Ru­dolph (31).


Bishop Shana­han’s play­ers cel­e­brate a point late in the third set against Down­ing­town East Thurs­day night.


Down­ing­town East’s Vic­to­ria Ru­dolph (31) and Jill Cur­ran bat­tle for the ball with Bishop Shana­han’s Cara Shultz (33).

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