Lady Bears win home de­but

Lady Bears win de­but home match over Norristown in 3 sets for first var­sity vic­tory

The Boyertown Area Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Thomas Nash tnash@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Thomas_Nash10 on Twit­ter

At one point Thurs­day night, Mike Lud­wig scanned the rafters in­side Boyertown High School’s Gym­na­sium.

Lined across the ceil­ing were the newly-hung ban­ners com­mem­o­rat­ing the school’s PIAA state cham­pi­onship teams through the years.

Hey, you’ve got to start some­where, right?

First-year head coach Mike Lud­wig and the Boyertown girls vol­ley­ball squad looked like a unit of well-sea­soned vet­er­ans through­out the night, putting the clamps down on vis­it­ing Norristown to win in straight sets and claim the pro­gram’s first var­sity win. The set scores were 25-16, 25-17 and 25-14, as the Lady Bears were in con­trol from start to fin­ish.

“We’re re­ally ex­cited for the girls,” said Lud­wig, “they’ve been work­ing re­ally hard since last sea­son. So it’s nice to get a lit­tle re­ward out there.”

The win im­proves Boyertown to 1-1 in the Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence (1-1 over­all) a night af­ter they opened up the sea­son with a straight-set loss against Spring-Ford. Norristown drops to 0-2 in the PAC (0-3 over­all) with straight-set losses against Perkiomen Val­ley and Coatesville.

A girls var­sity vol­ley­ball team had been nearly two decades in the mak­ing at Boyertown, with Lud­wig at the corner­stone of it all. When he first ar­rived at the district, he pre­sented the idea but was ul­ti­mately shut down.

Then two years ago, Lud­wig, who also serves as the var­sity boys bas­ket­ball coach, pre­sented the idea to ath­letic di­rec­tor Nick Pal­ladino. All last sea­son, the Bears played in­ter-squad games as a club team, gar­ner­ing more and more in­ter­est through­out the district as the sea­son went on.

Al­most a year later, a high school sanc­tioned team was ap­proved at a school board meet­ing in Novem­ber of 2016, giv­ing way for a var­sity pro­gram in 2017.

So al­though they are tech­ni­cally con­sid­ered a first-year pro­gram, the Lady Bears present plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence be­tween the lines and above the net.

“We have a lot of ex­pe­ri­enced girls,” said Lud­wig. “We’ve got some girls who have played club and that cer­tainly helps, but a lot of th­ese kids have worked for a year to­gether. They’ve put the time in.”

And by the looks of Thurs­day night, the Lady Bears are headed in the right di­rec­tion.

“We’ve been an­tic­i­pat­ing this since last year as a club team,” said right side hit­ter Ser­ena Salenga. “Just to be a part of the first team, that makes things even bet­ter. It’s awe­some to be more com­pet­i­tive — that’s def­i­nitely what we’ve been want­ing this en­tire time.”

Fresh­man out­side hit­ter/ set­ter Emma Lud­wig came up with eight kills and 16 as­sists while ju­nior Tay­lor Jones fin­ished with nine kills — in­clud­ing a big blast dur­ing the sec­ond game that could have shaken the Richter Scale — to go along with 13 as­sists.

Sopho­more libero Ju­lia Smith had five digs to go along with a pair of kills and two aces while Salenga had four kills, three digs and an ace.

“This makes me so ex­cited for the rest of the games this sea­son,” said Jones, who with Salenga, serves as a team cap­tain. “Just want­ing to play, want­ing to beat other teams.”

Jones was quick to note — it’s a much dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence look­ing across the net and see­ing a dif­fer­ent set of faces than the ones she’d seen all last sea­son.

“It’s to­tally dif­fer­ent than go­ing up against your team,” she said “You’ve got the nerves — that gets you go­ing, makes you want to play bet­ter.”

With five fresh­man and just one se­nior — mid­dle hit­ter Toy­van­nah Wright — listed on her var­sity ros­ter, first-year head coach Con­nie L. Ran­dolph and Norristown will be look­ing to make strides sim­i­lar to Boyertown this sea­son.

“We’re tak­ing our lumps, but we’re learn­ing from them,” said Ran­dolph, who also de­scribed Norristown as ‘build­ing up’ this sea­son. “Th­ese girls are get­ting some re­ally good var­sity ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially the un­der­class­men go­ing up against older play­ers.

“That ex­pe­ri­ence will go a long way.”

THOMAS NASH - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Mem­bers of the Boyertown girls vol­ley­ball team walk off the court fol­low­ing their 3-0 win over Norristown. It was the Bears’ first var­sity win in pro­gram his­tory.

THOMAS NASH - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Boyertown’s Tay­lor Jones rises up to re­turn a shot dur­ing Thurs­day’s game against Norristown.

THOMAS NASH - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Boyertown’s Emma Lud­wig (13) fol­lows through on a kill dur­ing Thurs­day’s win against Norristown.

THOMAS NASH - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Mem­bers of the Boyertown girls vol­ley­ball team hud­dle up around head coach Mike Lud­wig fol­low­ing the third set Thurs­day night.

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