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Pennridge finding its footing under new head coach


Mike Fleischacker is no stranger to the greater Bucks County volleyball scene.

He has been a coach in the New Hope-Solebury middle school program and an assistant coach for the school’s varsity program for the past four years.

He also has worked with former Pennridge head coach Brandon Johnson’s Pinnacle Volleyball Academy.

When Johnson stepped down as the Pennridge girls volleyball head coach to take an assistant position at Chestnut Hill College, Fleischacker loomed as a natural candidate to make the transition into the Rams’ program.

So far, Fleischacker has adapted well.

After it dropped its first two matches, Pennridge rallied to win three straight. The Rams dropped matches to Lansdale Catholic and Abington before they rallied to beat Quakertown, Gwynedd Mercy and Central Bucks South.

The Rams improved their record to 4-2 after Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Central Bucks East.

Fleischacker likes the makeup of his seasoned squad, composed of five seniors and seven juniors. He also has been impressed with the early showing of his underclassmen.

“We have a good mix here,” said the first-year head coach. “We have a couple of sophomores and freshmen who have looked good.

“We have been spending time working on fundamentals, and we took some time to get adjusted to everything. But we have played well lately, and we are looking to start to put everything together.”

Fleischacker will look to the senior core of outside hitter Brooke Alexander and Darby Nichols along with middle hitter Nikki Rindone.

“Both Darby and Nikki are coming into their own,” said Fleischecker. “Brooke is playing at the varsity level for the first time, and she has been very consistent. They all have good skill sets and will be major contributors.”

Fleischacker also sees senior hitter Maggie Dekutoski, and junior setter Delaney Schwind both having solid seasons, and Schwind is closing in on 1,000 career sets. Junior hitter Caitlyn Kuntz and sophomore hitters Sloane Gochin and Aubrie Schulz both already have made their mark.

Fleischhacker expected his team to possibly have some issues adapting.

“We have a new system in place,” he said. “It can take some time. But we have girls here who are good athletes. We want to come out and be aggressive. We will work to be consistent and not have a roller coaster like we did to start the season.”

Tuesday kicked off a stretch of four matches in nine days for the Rams. After CB East, they face Souderton, Central Bucks West and North Penn.

“We’ll get into league play and have a busy schedule,” said Fleischacker. “We just have to keep working in our system. The girls are working hard, and we are confident about what we can do.”

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