LANSDALE – Even in comfortable wins, the Lansdale Catholic girls volleyball team is finding moments to prove its mettle.
After cruising through the first two games in their non-league match with North Penn Monday night, the Crusaders' chances for a sweep were in some trouble as the Maidens held a 19-15 advantage in the later stages of Game Three.
But right then, LC showed why it is undefeated and holds a state ranking, rattling off 10 straight points — nine on Kaitlyn Kushman's serve — to wrap up a 3-0 (25-8, 25-11, 25-19) victory over the Maidens.
“It was just a big case of our character there,” Crusaders senior Alicia Kradzinski said. “We're going to be in those situations and it was one of those things where we put the pressure on ourselves and we want to get out of it. We want to put our own pressure on ourselves.”
Kradzinski paced Lansdale Catholic (8-0, 6-0 Philadelphia Catholic League) with seven kills, while Chelsey Dutkiewicz and Kerry Duggan each finished with four kills. Kushman compiled 12 assists, four aces and three kills in a match that was a fundraiser for multiple sclerosis. LC also held a clinic for young volleyball player after its win.
“It was a great night for everyone to get in, in front of a great home crowd and a great fundraising night,” Crusaders coach Joann Pisch said. “North Penn's just kind of in a rebuilding year this year. We're kind of at a peak year, and they're in a rebuilding year, so it's a little bit of a mismatch.”
Amy Pastuszak had three kills while Elizabeth Dallas handed out six assists for North Penn (3-7, 3-4 Suburban One League Continental). Despite the loss, Maidens coach Bryan Yost was upbeat about his team's effort.
“I got some girls that are out right now, so a lot of JV girls are stepping up and other one went down during that third game,” Yost said. “So, for them girls to step up the way they did and come together as a team, I'm walking out of here feeling pretty good tonight and I think the rest of them are.”
The Crusaders, who are ranked fourth in Class AA in the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association poll, gets back in PCL play Tuesday when it visits Bonner-Prendergast for a 6:30 p.m. match. Two days later, LC is on the road against Pope John Paul II, which sits seventh in the PVCA rankings.
“We're so excited for Thursday,” Kradzinski said. “We can't wait. We're going up to their gym. We're really excited.”
North Penn, meanwhile, hosts Central Bucks South for a SOL Continental contest 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Lansdale Catholic never trailed in the first two games Monday. In Game 1, North Penn was within 8-5 after an LC serve went into the net, but the Crusaders proceeded to go on a 10-0 run –—the final nine with Kelly Bergen serving — as they went on to win 25-8.
LC began the second game collected 10 of the first 12 points. Four straight points by North Penn pulled the Maidens to 10-6, but the Crusaders answered with four points of their own and gradually added to the lead from there for a 25-11 win.
“We all just had a lot of chemistry out on the court,” Kradzinski said. “We were working with energy. This game's a big game of momentum, so we were really going with the momentum in those games.”
Tied 9-9 in Game3, North Penn went ahead and led by as much as four — the last time at 19-15. Ten straight points for the Crusaders, however, ended any threat four a fourth game.
“They called that time out, we came out and middles forgot to switch, so if I didn't call that timeout, we would have been caught out of rotation,” Yost said. “I think that just sucked the momentum right out of us.”
Follow Mike Cabrey on Twitter @mpcabrey.