PJP

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS -

that was the best we played all sea­son so I’m happy with how we did.”

“That was a tough one. We’re win­ning the first and the third sets by de­cent amounts and we just couldn’t fin­ish,” PJP coach Ryan Sell said. “We couldn’t score two points in a row when it mat­tered most.”

That had a lot to do with the qual­ity of Dis­trict 3 cham­pion West York (231), which was led by se­nior Ju­lia Rill (15 kills, 10 digs), se­nior Gianna Krinock (7 kills, 17 digs, 17 ser­vice points), and ju­nior libero Kam He­pler (19 digs). The Bull­dogs ad­vance to the semi­fi­nals on Nov. 13 where it will meet Dis­trict 11 cham­pion Al­len­town Cen­tral Catholic (3-0 win­ner over Villa Maria Satur­day) for the sec­ond straight year in the Fi­nal Four.

Ju­nior out­side hit­ter Sarah Ward’s 11 kills were a team-high while sopho­more Chelsea Har­vey (27 as­sists, five kills) and se­nior Mikaela Mon­roe (five kills) were other key con­trib­u­tors for PJP.

In the first game, PJP worked the big­gest lead of the set (3 points) to 23-20 and 24-21, game points in hand. But the nerves crept in and West York’s level raised as it rat­tled off five straight points, the last two by way of net vi­o­la­tions for the 26-24 win. The sec­ond game was equally tight up to 22-22. But the Bull­dogs won a long, scram­bling point for the lead and Te­sia Thomas’ kill punc­tu­ated the 25-22 win. Game 3 was eeriely fa­mil­iar as PJP led 24-22, only to be over­taken with a four-point run by West York that was high­lighted by ath­letic kills from Thomas and Rill.

“I think there were some nerves,” Sparano said. “Es­pe­cially in the last (set) be­cause of the way we’d lost the first two. We felt like we could do it this time, but there was some angst about it. I don’t think we’ve ever had this prob­lem be­fore. It’s a state tour­na­ment game and you’re al­ways go­ing to be ner­vous es­pe­cially in those re­ally tight mo­ments. They just came out on top this time.”

Pope John Paul II (147) equaled its post­sea­son run of the pre­vi­ous sea­son though it wasn’t able to du­pli­cate the cham­pi­onship mo­ments of 2017, set­tling for sil­ver in the Pioneer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence and Dis­trict 1 tour­na­ments.

“Even if we didn’t ac­com­plish what we did last year, I still think it was a great sea­son,” Sparano said. “Last year, our lead­ers were our se­niors, so los­ing them was a tough loss. But I think we were able to re­group and cre­ate our own lead­er­ship. We had 10 se­niors and I think we all stepped up and did our part.”

PJP’s se­niors in­clude Mad­die Lesin­ski, Tay­lor Roberto, Va­lerie Hull, Caitlin Gilinger, Sophia Bo­nanno, Made­line Mulc­a­hey, Mon­roe, Madi­son Lewis, Sparano and Olivia De­bald.

“Sea­sons are jour­neys. I felt like there was a lot of growth from a lot of peo­ple that will still be around while our se­niors helped us out a lot. It was fun and it was chal­leng­ing. (En­ter­ing the sea­son) we didn’t lose many peo­ple so lots of peo­ple thought that (we’d be right back to where we were), but ev­ery year is dif­fer­ent. It doesn’t mat­ter how much you have coming back. But it was fun for sure; I learned a lot and I hope they did, too.”

AUSTIN HERT­ZOG — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Pope John Paul II’s Hanna Tulli (22) sends a kill past a pair of West York block­ers dur­ing a PIAA 3A quar­ter­fi­nal Satur­day at Gov. Mif­flin.

AUSTIN HERT­ZOG — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Pope John Paul II’s Caitlin Gilinger (7) hits down the line for a kill against West York dur­ing a PIAA 3A quar­ter­fi­nal Satur­day at Gov. Mif­flin.

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