For a long time, Council Rock North has been a dominant force in the Suburban One National Conference.
This season however, it is sister school CR South grabbing all the headlines. The Golden Hawks have swept all four of their SOL National league foes thus far including Bensalem, Neshaminy and Pennsbury.
Last week, South continued its own dominance in the league by blanking the Indians, 3-0.
“North has the culture of dominating lots of sports, especially in our district,” said junior outside hitter Edan Kauer. “There’s a big rivalry between us, especially when we play them.
“The past few years, they’ve always won over us but this year, we’ve turned the tide.”
On Sept. 15 on the Hawks’ home court, South won the first game in a back-and-forth affair, dominated the second pairing then overcame a huge deficit in the third to win going away and keep its record perfect in the SOL at 4-0.
“I know that our team can sometimes get in ruts where we start out really slow but then we always come back in the end,” added Kauer.
“Sometimes, we lose our sense of urgency but I always know we’ll pull it out.
“We always make a comeback.”
Kauer led the way for the Golden Hawks with 14 kills, eight aces and a pair of digs.
Younger sister Nala Kauer, a sophomore, chipped in with six kills and five aces, and senior Gracie DeSaro added four kills and a block. Senior Shani Sun added six digs, two kills and an ace while junior Cadence Palmer had four digs. Setter Ashlyn Dinan, a junior, contributed 25 assists and an ace, and senior Lindsey Korn led the defense with nine digs and two aces.
Sophomore Rachael Buchnik (two kills) and junior Cassidy Melnick (ace) also contributed to the win.
“We have great players on our team. We do have a lot of graduating seniors but while they’re still here, we’re really enjoying using them.”
“All of our juniors, sophomores and freshmen, they’re all really pulling their weight, and that’s how we got this win today.”
Earlier in the week, South swept Pennsbury, 3-0, putting the SOL on notice that the Hawks have arrived.
“That game was huge,” said Kauer, “because Pennsbury was previously undefeated and they (study) film hard. We know a lot of the players on their team, too, and we used that to our advantage.
“We played our hardest, best game against them.
“It was amazing and incredible.”
North, meanwhile, is coming off a season in which it went undefeated in the regular season and advanced all the way to the District One 4A finals and taking District Three powerhouse Elizabethtown to five games before bowing out in states.
The Indians graduated a host of seniors in the spring, however, including setter Kate Logan and three-time first team all-state honoree Ashleigh Adams, who holds the school record for kills with 1,921.
While junior Emma McNulty (15 digs vs. South) anchors the defense, North is led this season by seniors Sophie Lentz (nine kills, two aces), Ainsley Jordan (four kills) and Ashley Smith.
“All of the seniors have stepped up so far,” said Lentz. “Our sophomore setter, Sarah McCafferty, she’s really stepping up, filling Kate’s shoes pretty well.”
The Indians opened the season Aug. 29 with a hard-fought win over SOL Continental Conference leader CB East.
Lentz led the way with 12 kills, three aces and a pair of blocks. Junior Kaitlyn Liedl chipped in with 10 kills and an ace. Classmate Caitlyn Mahle added six kills and three blocks. Sophomore Addison Zarillo had seven kills and four blocks while McCafferty dished out 24 assists.
North opened the match against the Patriots with a 25-22 win, lost a close game, 26-24 then got clobbered 25-10 in game three. To their credit, the Indians bounced back, winning 25-22 and 15-11.
After battling South to a near standstill in game one, North fell by double digits in the second pairing. And that was after holding a 6-5 lead on the Hawks in game two.
Lentz says her team lost focus after a mix-up in the lineup card.
“We were really thrown off in the second game because the book had the wrong lineup,” explained Lentz. “They caught us out of rotation.
“That kind of set the tone and messed us up for the rest of the set.”
After posting a big lead in game three, the Indians could only watch as the edge evaporated and South came away with another shutout win in the SOL.
“The third game, I think we came out really strong; we really pushed ourselves,” added Lentz. “I think maybe just exhaustion got to us. It was a close game and I’m proud of the way we played but they ended up taking the victory.”
The Hawks pushed their way to 7-2 overall with another home win Sept. 19 over Hatboro-Horsham, topping the Hatters, 3-1.
For her part, fourth-year CR South head coach Carrie Allen is cautiously optimistic.
“There’s still a lot of season left and there are a lot of good teams in this league,” stated Allen. “We’re off to s strong start and we’re very hopeful but there’s a lot of season left and everyone is going to improve in the second half.”
The Hawks’ two losses thus far have come at the hands of SOL American league rival Plymouth Whitemarsh and Pioneer Athletic Conference foe Methacton.
South made it into districts last year as a 15 seed, defeating Haverford 3-1 before bowing out to Unionville, a D1-4A semifinalist in 2021.
@stevesherman222 on Twitter