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CB East returns to court with solid lineup

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Two years ago, Central Bucks East made it to the PIAA round of 16. Last year, the Patriots went all the way to the state quarterfinals. Each season was a milestone never attained before by a CB East boys volleyball team, which won its first league title last season since 1989.

While the Patriots enter the current campaign missing one all-state player in outside hitter Carter Haban and one all-District One player in opposite Andrew Bennett, CB East returns to the court with plenty of promise.

The Patriots showed some of that potential Friday, March 22, sweeping non-league foe Council Rock South in straight sets, 25-15, 25-19, 25-17.

“The win itself was pretty big to start off our season,” said junior Steve Storm. “Winning in three feels amazing but we definitely can improve upon that.”

While the Pats lost a few players to graduation, East returns plenty of talent to the court, starting with senior outside hitter Dylan Colbert, a four-year starter who was named both all-District One and all-state last season.

With Storm, an all-District One setter last year, along with middle hitters Christian Wolf and Thomas Gallagher-Teske and a junior class that numbers a half dozen in strength, the Patriots believe they might go even further this season.

“The sky’s the limit,” added Storm. “Honestly, when we’re on, we can be a really good team.

“We still have a lot of work to do but we do have that bond and we are improving every single day at practice.”

A middle hitter last year, senior Jack Miller is back at opposite this year. Junior Jacob Labouliere was third team all-Suburban One League at libero last season but he’s back this year as an outside hitter.

Junior Ryan Figus has taken up the spot at libero and classmate Vishum Desai is working at opposite.

“We got a lot of solid players back – a lot of guys who are stepping up,” stated Colbert. “We’re younger so it looks good.

“Our chemistry is better than I expected it to be this early in the season and that’s always a plus – to get that going has really helped us out.”

Colbert led the effort against the Golden Hawks with 16 kills, seven digs and six aces. Labouliere chipped in with eight kills, five digs, two blocks and a pair of aces.

Storm did his part with 30 assists and two aces. Gallagher-Teske added four kills and a block and Wolf chipped in with five kills and an ace. Figus contributed with eight digs and a pair of aces.

Three of the six juniors on the CB East roster are returning starters in Storm, Wolf and Gallagher-Teske.

“We have a solid junior core this year and that’s good, they get a chance to mesh this year,” said Colbert. “We can make a good run this season and build off of that for years to come.”

Head coach Rob Minschwaner credits Wolf and Gallagher-Teske with shoring up the middle.

“Those guys are excellent middles for us; they don’t get a lot of publicity but they do a phenomenal job,” said Minschwaner. “I think we have the strongest middle attack in the league.”

Minschwaner adds that the squad is solid up and down the lineup.

“When we came into the season, we knew we were going to be strong offensively,” the coach explained.

“We have one of the best setters in the state in Steve and a returning all-state player in Dylan.

“Jacob, who was an all-league libero last year, went to outside and he’s just crushing balls out there.

“Christian is in his third year, Thomas is in his second year and both are good attackers, good blockers.

“Ryan has stepped into the role as our starting libero this year and he’s gotten better every single day; he’s really impressed us.

“Jack Miller is one of our stronger opposites – he’s a good blocker and he’s come a long way with his attack, as well.

“Jack Zaph doesn’t play club ball but every year, he keeps surprising me.”

“I have a lot of confidence in this team; we have a lot of depth and we didn’t even talk about Vishum Desai. He played middle for us last year and we switched him to opposite.

“We have such a stacked team; a lot of these guys would be starting somewhere else.”

Last year, the Pats made their way to the District One finals with a 3-0 win over Neshaminy and a 3-2 comeback win over Pennsbury.

Trailing the Falcons 2-0 in the district semifinals, East won the third game 25-15 and took the fourth and fifth sets by 26-24 and 19-17 scores.

In states, East also rebounded with a 3-2 triumph over Philadelphia Catholic League rival La Salle after a 2-0 deficit. The Pats won the last three vs. the Explorers, 25-23, 25-18 and 16-14.

“I think there was a sense of coming together in the La Salle match whereas against Pennsbury, we just ramped it up; there wasn’t that moment,” stated Colbert. “In the La Salle game, we decided after the second set that this is where we have to step up if we were going to prolong our season.”

While the Patriots were eliminated from states in the next round vs. Emmaus, Colbert says the team benefited from the extended campaign.

“Getting a winning team together means building the program up and last year, we were able to do that with the long season,” said Colbert. “We were able to get everybody to settle into their varsity role.

“We feel pretty good about the run we made last year and we’re hoping we can keep grinding out that streak of wins this season.”

The competition to repeat in the SOL American Conference will come from Pennridge, North Penn and CB West. The Patriots followed up a 3-0 sweep of Avon Grove on Monday with a 3-1 victory over Pennridge Tuesday.


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