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Girls volleyball

Maidens top improving West


North Penn, on the heels of a 25-23 first set win Monday night at CB West, rapidly built up a 7-1 lead in the second set.

Through it all, Rachel Hu was smiling.

Hu plays for West (9-3, 5-2 SOL). It’s an atypical reaction from the team that’s behind. But maybe Hu knew something that others didn’t.

“I’ve been playing for a while now and I’ve tried to make it a habit to stay positive, no matter what is happening,” Hu shared. “Other people can always sense your energy. Even if you aren’t trying to be negative, your team can always sense when you’re down. I always try to be the one smiling and I feel it lifts people up.”

Her block, a Hollis Walton kill and an Amber Woodring ace cut the lead to 7-5. Hu’s kill put West up 11-10. West regained the lead for good at 14-13 and the Bucks pulled away to top the Maidens 25-19.

Defensively, West put on a digging clinic in the second set. “We had a lot of energy, which was needed for this game. I think we have high potential,” Walton said, “and we played our hearts out with what we had while missing some of our starters.”

North Penn ultimately won the match 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 25-10, 25-21), winning 14 of the final 15 points in set three.

Yet West made North Penn earn set four. Down 23-14, when most people would head for the exits, the Bucks frantically tacked on six points – four kills and two hitting errors – off of Hu serves. Sarah Miller’s kill cut the lead to 24-21.

“I think we did what we could,” Walton assessed. “I’m really proud of our back row players.”

Walton and Lily Rasnake led the offense with nine and seven kills respectively. Caroline Taylor and Woodring each added 13 digs.

The Bucks opened this fall by winning nine of their first 10 matches, including topping North Penn 3-1 on Sept. 7 in Lansdale. It is a stark reversal from last year, when West struggled to a 6-15 record. “We’re all a family here,” Walton credits. “We love and support each other no matter what. Our motto is Family and Legacy. We try to be one – JV and varsity. I think that has really separated us from last year.”

“We were a very young team last year,” Hu said, “and we didn’t spend a lot of time together or working together. This year, we really came together as a whole. We knew what we needed to succeed together instead of last year, where we were just getting to know each other.”

West dropped to second place behind archrival CB East in the SOL Continental. The Bucks topped East 3-2 on Sept. 20. The rematch in Buckingham is slated for Oct. 13.

West, who is seeking its first conference title since 2018, started a four-game road trip by returning to action at Quakertown on Wednesday night (late game). The Bucks will face CB South, East and then Hatboro-Horsham before coming home for their Oct. 18 Senior Night hosting Pennridge. Earlier this season, Hu, Rasnake and Walton combined for over 30 kills in a 3-1 West victory over the Rams.

“A smile will never hurt,” Hu reminded. Despite Monday’s hiccup, West volleyball has plenty to smile about this fall.

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Girls volleyball