Central Bucks West’s Christian Rupert (32) spikes a shot past North Penn defender Gabe Stoler (17) during their contest at North Penn High School on
Central Bucks West's Christian Rupert (32) spikes a shot past North Penn defender Gabe Stoler (17) during their contest at North Penn High School on Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)

Boys volleyball has come to Lansdale Catholic.

The Crusaders' first-year program — comprised of a young, 11-player roster — will be joining the Philadelphia Catholic League, joining Archbishop Ryan, Archbishop Wood, Cardinal O'Hara, La Salle, St. Joe's Prep and Roman Catholic.

"Our goal is simply to learn the fundamentals of the game this season while competing and having fun,' head coach Joann Pisch said. "I want these players to fall in love with the game of volleyball.'

Pisch has had tremendous success grooming the LC girls program into a state-caliber squad. The Crusader girls team won the District 12 Class 2A title this past fall as well as capturing the PCL crown. LC then went all the way to the state semifinals.

Joann Pisch, center, is Lansdale Catholic boys volleyball’s head coach in the program’s inaugural season. Pisch also coaches LC’s girls
Joann Pisch, center, is Lansdale Catholic boys volleyball's head coach in the program's inaugural season. Pisch also coaches LC's girls team. (Rick Kauffman/Digital First Media)

The LC boys, meanwhile, head into their inaugural season led by two juniors, Matt Plummer and Brendan Shovelin.

Plummer, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker is an athletic, all-around player for the Crusaders and a leader on the court.

"His intensity and energy easily transfers from the football field into the volleyball gym,' Pisch said.

Shovelin, at 6-5, provides quite a sturdy presence at middle blocker.

"Having never played the game before, Brendan has already displayed great blocking,' Pisch said. "He contacts the ball at a high point in his attack, which will help the team at the net this year.'

The Crusaders, who open the season Monday at O'Hara, further the growth of the sport in an area already rich in state-caliber squads.


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Following is a team-by-team look at the area.

Central Bucks West

Coach: Todd Miller (fourth season)

Last Year: 20-4; Suburban One League Continental Conference Champs; District One Class AAA Runner-Up; Reached PIAA Class AAA Quarterfinals

Key Performers Lost: Mike Fehrs (Division III Stevenson University); Dan Atkins (Grove City College)

North Penn’s Mark Elias (4) lunges but bust misses a ball going out of bounds during their contest against Central Bucks West at North Penn High
North Penn's Mark Elias (4) lunges but bust misses a ball going out of bounds during their contest against Central Bucks West at North Penn High School on Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)

Key Returners: Christian Rupert, Sr., MH (All-State, First-Team Continental Conference, First-Team District One); Matt Hennigan, Sr., S (First-Team Continental Conference, Second-Team District One); Joel Klapper, Sr., OH (Third-Team Continental Conference); Jeff Strasburg, Sr., OH/Defensive Specialist (Honorable Mention Continental Conference)

Others to Watch: Ryan Alu, Fr., libero

Coach Miller Says: "Having lost to graduation only two players, we hope to compete for the conference championship again, fight for a district championship while qualifying for states and possibly go deep in the state playoffs."

Opening Match: Monday vs. Council Rock North

Christopher Dock

Coach: Tim Mackey (eighth season)

Last Year: 13-3; reached District One Class AAA Quarterfinals

Key Returners: Travis Hoover, Sr., OH; Jared Hunsinger, Sr., OH

Strengths: Hitting from the outside

Question Marks: Some inexperience at the varsity level

Coach Mackey Says: "We want to try to go further in the playoffs than we did last season. That's the way we're approaching it, taking it one day at a time."

Opening Match: Thursday vs. Glen Mills

Lansdale Catholic

Coach: Joann Pisch

League: Philadelphia Catholic League

Key Performers: Matt Plummer, Jr., MB; Brendan Shovelin, Jr., MB

Outlook for the Season: The Crusaders aim to build a strong foundation as a first-year program.

North Penn

Coach: Tim Moyer (third season)

Last Year: 12-3; reached first round of PIAA Class AAA State Tournament

Key Returners: Mark Elias, Jr., setter; Kyle Sucro, Sr., outside hitter; Jake Walters, Jr., middle blocker/hitter; Eric Mellman, Sr., outside hitter; Gabe Stoler, Sr., opposite

Coach Moyer Says: "With lots of returning players and a senior-led team, expectations are high this season. The guys played well down the stretch last season and into the playoffs and our players are working hard to return deep into the postseason and make a run, one round further this year."

Opening Match: Wednesday at CB West

Pennridge

Coach: Dave Childs (ninth season)

Last Year: 15-6; fourth in District One Class AAA; lost in first round of PIAA Class AAA Tournament

Key Performers Lost: Christian Lizana (Vassar College); Mike Bollinger; Matt Ziegler; Ian Kehs; Evan Jacoby

Key Returners: Kolby Smith, Sr, OH; Alex Vellner, Sr, Opp; Steve Braun, Sr, L; Devon Rice, Jr, OH; Henry Savage, Jr, MH

Others to Watch: Brad Nase, Jr, S; Ben Chinnici, Fr, MH; Vince Kauders, Sr, MH; Jon Long, Jr, MH; Max McVaugh, Jr, D

Strengths: Serving

Question Marks: Inexperience at some spots

Coach Childs Says: "We would like to be able to compete with the top teams in our district and state. We would like to advance to the state playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.'

Opening Match: Wednesday at CB East

Souderton Area

Coach: Brad Garrett (seventh season)

Last Year: 10-6; lost in first round of District One Class AAA Playoffs

Key performers Lost: Tim Jones, OH; Ryan Davison, MH; Sam shoemaker, setterKey returners: Evan miller, Sr., OH; Alex Androkites, Sr., OH; Micah Godshall, Sr., opposite

Others to Watch: Jordan Rawa, Sr., setter; Justin Rodzewich, Sr., libero; Mitch Yerk, Sr., MH; Sam Hess, So., MH

Coach Garrett Says: "With a solid returning core of players, we'll be looking to improve upon how far we went last year."

Opening Match: Wednesday vs. Quakertown

Follow Kev Hunter on Twitter @khunter10.