GRATERFORD — Spring-Ford's Josie Swenson is thrilled that girls volleyball has become an official part of the Pioneer Athletic Conference this year and she's doing all she can to help the Rams win the first-ever championship in the sport.
On Thursday night, the 5-foot-11 Ram senior played a strong overall game on offense and also did a good job on Perkiomen Valley's big hitter on defense as the Rams took the last two games for a 3-1 (25-11, 23-25, 25-21, 25-13) win.
Swenson had 11 kills and six blocks, Catherine Burger added 33 assists, eight digs, and five aces, Amanda Venuto came up with 23 digs, and Cindy Nicholson contributed seven kills and four aces for the Rams (3-1, 5-2).
Perk Valley (0-2, 2-2) was led by Cayla Veverka's 20 kills, 14 digs by Kristen Dolenti, 29 assists by Emilia Leyes, and seven kills with no errors and four blocks by Caitlin Corcoran.
"I love it,' Swenson said concerning the inaugural PAC-10 season. "It's awesome. I've waited every year in high school to have a PAC-10.'
Swenson wrapped up the match with a left-handed, crosscourt haymaker that completed a 14-4 Ram run in the final game. Spring-Ford led all the way in that one after breaking a 3-3 tie, much like the first game of the night when the Rams pulled away from a 2-2 deadlock for an easy win.
The middle two games were back-and-forth battles with Perk Valley breaking a 22-22 deadlock in game No. 2 on a bad hit by the Rams, expanding the lead to two on a serve by Dolenti, and then winning it on a crosscourt kill by Veverka.
Spring-Ford rallied from a 20-18 deficit in the third game with five straight points and Burger wrapped it up with a flick over the middle.
"I thought we did really well serving,' said Swenson. "I think we played really well at the net.'
Ram coach Josh McNulty thought that a big reason for his team's win was its ability to limit its mistakes, something it did well with the exception of the second game.
"Absolutely,' he said. "That's our goal every time. If we have close games, we look at our errors. We had 19 errors in the second game and lost by two points. Perk Valley came to play tonight.'
Another key, according to McNulty, was Swenson's tough play against 6-foot-3 sophomore Veverka.
"Cayla is such a strong hitter,' he said. "We were trying to get in her face and make her hit over. I was trying to match Josie, my big blocker, against Cayla.'
And while Veverka still managed to rack up more than her share of kills during the course of the night, Swenson certainly held her own in their head-to-head tussles.
"That was my goal tonight, to just compete with her and try to out-play her,' said Swenson. "I won a couple of jousts tonight, which was very exciting.
With the win, Spring-Ford took sole possession of second place over Methacton, a 3-0 loser to undefeated Pope John Paul II.
"When we minimize our errors, like we did in the first and last games, we're a tough team to beat,' McNulty added.
Viking coach Chang Han thought that a sub-par night of passing and blocking hurt his team.
"We just couldn't get our passing down,' said Han, whose team has won two tournaments already this season. "Too many rotations on bad passing. We usually get a lot more blocks than that. They did a good job of going around our blocks.'