Council Rock North co-captain Julia Walton described the huddle before the fifth set on Halloween’s playback at No. 5 Boyertown.
“It was less on strategy,” Walton shared, “and more reminding each other why we’re here and why we needed to push in this fifth set to secure the win.”
North secured it. Despite Boyertown winning the third and fourth sets to knot the match at 2, No. 7 North won the last three points to take the fifth set 15-12 and advance to states for the first time since 2016.
“Going into that fifth set, we knew we had the means to take them,” Walton said. “A lot of the huddle was us reminding each other that we came here to play for each other – especially our seniors where this could have been their last game if we hadn’t won that fifth set. We didn’t want it to be the end of our season.”
“Coming out of the huddle, we all knew that we could do it,” echoed co-captain Abby Jones. “We had to dig deep and play our hearts out on that court. We all contributed and showed everyone that we were able to push through.”
The Indians (22-5) were runners-up in the SOL National. Their District One losses all came at the hands of PIAA-bound teams.
“We got better at aggressive serving as the season went on,” Jones replied when asked about the team’s strengths. “I think we’re a really good offensive team. We know how to hit spots. We know how to mix things up by throwing a tip here and there.”
“We knew going into our season that we had a lot of girls who were very talented individually. I think something we struggled with at the beginning was: how do we mesh together and make sure everyone’s strengths are being highlighted,” Walton added. “Moving further into the season, we’ve created this kind of vibe or mojo where everyone knows how one another plays. That is something that only comes in time, but it is something where we’ve gotten really good.”
When they thumped No. 10 Garnet Valley 3-0 in the second round of district playoffs, it was the 16th time that CR North won in straight sets. Mary Baniewicz paced North with 19 kills; Sydney White added 21 assists.
Visiting North topped No. 6 Hatboro-Horsham 3-2 on Oct. 29 playbacks behind Baniewicz’s 26 kills and Ashleigh Adams’ 23 digs. The win set up the winner-take-all Boyertown match
A CR North loss to No. 2 Unionville 3-0 in district quarterfinals meant Rock needed two road victories to clinch a PIAA berth. But a far journey to play an elite team was good preparation for states. The Indians traveled to Dallastown on Tuesday to take on unbeaten District Three champion Hempfield and start state play.
“We need to show up, play our game and get three good sets before they do,” coach Mike Adams said on Monday. “We took practice to work on specific things. We’ve already been in the classroom so the girls know what they’re working on. We know their shots, weapons and tendencies.”
Hempfield took the first two sets but Rock opened set three with a 6-1 lead and ultimately claimed it 25-23. But the Knights took the fourth set to advance in states.
Adams felt his ’19 squad was a “little more well-rounded” when compared to his ’16 states team. “I have players who can play any position at any time. Their volleyball IQ as a team is a little bit higher.
Don’t get me wrong – that team in ’16 was great,” Adams clarified. “This year, they might not be that huge but they have more shots and they’re more coachable as far as being able to adjust in the moment. It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s why we’ve been upsetting teams: we can see what is happening and adjust.”