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Girls volleyball: New Hope-Solebury Lions three-peat in District One finale


New Hope-Solebury senior Aubrey Turner posted up with an ace for the final point, capping the Lions’ sweep of MaST Charter in the District One 2A Girls Volleyball Championship Oct. 26 at Bensalem High School.

It was an ending that fit the significance of the moment as it was the icing on the cake for this senior class – Turner, along with outside hitter Lauren Savitsky and setter Anna Leasure – which just captured its third consecutive D1 crown.

“It shows that even though we lost some big hitters this year, we were able to really build the program back up,” explained Leasure, moments after the big win. “We were able to (develop) the freshmen that came in and strive for greatness.”

Those freshmen – libero Astin Saft, opposite Nora Redfield and defensive specialist Gabby McCagg – saw significant time in the D1 finale. Redfield posted a pair of kills late in the second set, giving New Hope a 24-10 edge, Leasure added a pair of aces to a late run by the Lions while Turner ended the match with an ace of her own.

“They all played well tonight,” stated Leasure. “As the setter, I could have set Nora up a little more but the sets that she did get, she put down well. Astin is a great libero. She did well with getting the balls that were played to her and getting them up for me.”

The Lions took the court this season without the services of outside hitters Mia Chuma (Georgetown), and Lilly Kraemer (Rochester) along with middle blocker Chloe McMillen (LSU).

Sophomore Olivia Madara has filled the role as starting middle and Savitsky has taken up a position on the left side. Madara’s kill early on in the second set of the playoff broke a 4-4 tie and started the Lions off on a 21-6 run.

Stepping up from her previous role as libero the last two years, junior Emma Viehweger blossomed into an outside hitter, a role she filled before she came to New Hope-Solebury.

“I think (the transition) has gone pretty smooth,” said Viehweger. “I took a couple swings in preseason and decided to take a chance.

“I have a great connection with my setter, Anna Leasure. “We’ve been playing together for a while and everything has just clicked and it’s been really fun.”

New Hope certainly looked like it was having fun in the D1 final, disposing of the Panthers in straight sets, with all three concluding with the same identical score, 25-10.

The Lions are getting contributions from all over the lineup. Sophomore May Leasure, a setter like her older sister, posted four aces in the team’s first 25-10 set win over MaST. Junior Sabrina Fitzsimmons registered three kills including the opening point – a resounding smash to the floor – in the second set.

Anna Leasure started the final set off with an ace then she, Madara, Viehweger, Redfield and Turner came up with kills to give New Hope and early 11-3 edge. Saft forced a hitting error by the Panthers, putting the Lions on top, 17-5 as New Hope closed the game out with a kill by sophomore Carolyn Brennan and the ace by Turner.

The Lions had help on the back line from McCagg, along with sophomore Samantha Metzger.

New Hope advances to face District 11’s Notre Dame Green Pond in Thursday’s regional qualifier for the PIAA Class 2A tournament.

Among the Lions’ big wins this fall are an early season win over Suburban One American Conference rival Hatboro-Horsham. Setting the stage, New Hope entered the Sept. 5 road matchup unbeaten at 3-0.

“We went to their house and we were going in 3-0 so we just put everything out there; we swept them in three sets,” stated Viehweger. “The energy was there and we were playing confidently. We trusted each other and we pulled out a win at their place.”

In the rematch with the Hatters, the Lions stumbled however, falling 3-2 at home.

“We went into it and we were very excited; we had a big student section that day,” explained Viehweger. “The fifth set, we just couldn’t pull through.

“But we went back to practice the next week and really focused on our mechanics and came back stronger after that.”

New Hope showed its resolve, posting four consecutive wins starting with an Oct. 2 shutout win at home over Calvary Baptist followed by two more victories in straight sets over SOL American Conference rivals Cheltenham and Abington. The Lions finished the week out with another shutout over Philadelphia Catholic League rival Saint Hubert’s.

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