North Penn topples Cheltenham
When there is a Willits there is a way. Or at least a put-away. North Penn senior Andy Willits wants nothing more than to take his volleyball team to higher heights in this year’s postseason. On Tuesday he was not going to let a slow start interfere with his aspirations. The 12th-seed from Cheltenham clawed and was competitive early, but eventually Willits DnG WKH fiIWK-sHHGHG .nLJKWs walked away with a 3-1 (2523, 24-26, 25-14, 25-14) win.
“WH GHfinLWHOy cDPH Ln pretty relaxed,” Willits said. “We should come into the playoffs playing as hard as we can and leave everything on the court. We stepped it up at the end of the game.”
Willits and the Knights were tired of the nail-biting finLsKHs sHHn Ln WKH fiUsW WwR games, one which went their way and one that slipped DwDy. ,n WKH finDO WwR JDPHs he was calling for sophomore setter Mark Elias (22 assists) to pass his way. WilOLWs finLsKHG wLWK 21 NLOOs DnG four aces. The Knights’ other outside hitter Kyle Sucro contributed with 16 kills and 13 digs.
“Andy and Kyle both are both consistent guys,” Knights coach Tim Moyer said. “Mark looks to them when they get in trouble. Andy is a senior, he has been here a long time, and has earned the respect of his teammates.”
It was anything but a breeze to the second round of the District One Class AAA playoffs as the Panthers (10-13 overall) showed much improvement from their regular season matchup, a 25-21, 25-23, 25-15 sweep by the Knights. The Panthers, behind the strong setting of Mike Lee and athletic swings by middle hitter Brandon Smith and several outside hitters helped the Panthers hold late leads in the opening two games.
“We have been starting slow all season,” Moyer said. “But we cannot afford to do that. Cheltenham is an athletic squad and they are improving. If we left them in the match they believed they can win.”
In Game One the Panthers led 21-20 before the Knights’ rallied to close on a 5-2 run. In Game Two the young group of Panthers struggled to seal the game leading 2421, but so improvement by staying focused and eventually holding on for the win 26-24 win. The Knights (15-3 overall) realized after Game Two they needed to turn it on quickly if they
wanted to avoid the early HxLW Rn WhHLr hRPH flRRr.
“Every time they got a lead, they gave up points EHFDuVH WhHy DrH Dn LnHxSHrienced team,” Moyer said. “We left them in the game too long in Game Two. But we are veteran team and we fought the whole way and played well in the end.”
Willits would love a district title or a spot in the PIAA playoffs and knows IrRP hLV SDVW HxSHrLHnFHV in districts that they will need to better against fourth seeded Neshaminy. It will be a tough game, but with the hard swinging outside hitter in the fold, there is a way.
“There is some urgency,” Willits said. “I want to go further than the North Penn teams of the past could go. I really want to work as hard as I can or play as hard as I can.”