Rarely do you see perfection in the sporting world. There are just too many obstacles blocking any team’s ultimate Dream Season. The Council Rock North volleyball team defied those odds and produced a perfect 19-0 mark on their way to a PIAA District One league championship.
Going into the 2018 campaign Ed Mancinelli, senior libero, sensed the Indians were headed for a stellar season. “We knew we had a similar team to last year. The whole last season was almost all juniors so we all came back with a big chip on our shoulders that said basically District Title or bust.”
As the season unfolded, the initial goal seemed more reachable. “We’ve been clicking really well. I know we’ve been getting better and better every practice and we learn more and more about each other. If one person makes a bad play the other guys are there to pick him up.”
Part of the Indians success is the complete athleticism they bring to the court. “I think we’re very well balanced. The guys up front, Harry (Wyatt), Jack (Gunshenan), Justin (Burns), Kevin (D,Arcy), and Will (Hewitt) all have huge vertical leaps. Those guys can jump out of the building.”
Orchestrating the Indian attack is setter Nick Baniewicz. “Nick is very, very good with calling all the plays and making sure every guy knows what they’re running and what they’re doing. He always makes the right choice either sending harry down the middle or Jack across the middle or Kevin outside.”
The back row is equally adept at their defensive specialty. “I know in the back we have Nick (Baniewicz), Jack, Harry and Justin. They are all quick enough to get to the ball and make a play.
Ed mans the all-important libero position. “They are the main defensive players on the court. They’re usually shouting out giving their teammates encouragement.”
Here Ed’s work as the goalie on the soccer team transfers nicely to volleyball. “When you play libero you have to have a lot of quick hand-eye co-ordination. You don’t know when the ball is going to get hit at you so you have to be ready.”
All the assembled talent does bring an increased pressure from opponents. Everyone wants to defeat the front runner. “Coach (Greg Marchetti) always tells us that everyone wants to take down a number one team. Everybody wants to beat the best team in the conference and the state. We knew we have to stay solid and keep working together.”
The Indians entered the districts with a number one seeding. They wore they’re target well as they defeated Central Bucks West 3-2 and Pennridge 3-0 to set up a championship bout with the number two seeded CB East team.
Ed knew that East would be a worthy opponent. “We knew they are a very strong team, mentally and physically. They find ways to win. We played them earlier and we went up 2-0 and then dropped two sets in a row. We won it in the fifth set.”
North would have to pay attention to the Patriot’s two big gunners, Dylan Colbert and Carter Haban. “They were very strong outsiders who could just pound the ball. We always had to key on them and know where they were and slow them down. We knew East was a team that could come back. We were determined not to let that happened.”
The determination paid off in a three set sweep. As always, North’s balanced attack proved key. Nick Banciewicz had 21 assists. Jack Gunshenan had six kills and six digs. Harry Wyatt led the Indian attack with 15 kills, seven digs and an ace.
Ed contributed eight digs and two assists to the North attack. He even had a remarkable foot kill from the back row, a play he humbly recounted. “Honestly it’s just in the situation in the moment. I saw that the ball was a little too low for me to dive down and hit it over the net so I thought the best thing to do was to kick it. It’s legal to use any part of your body.”
The Indians felt both joy and relief with the final score of 25-16, 26-24,25-21. “It was a feeling of relief that we had done it. We knew, however, our work is not done yet. Hopefully, we have four more games to go.”
Regardless of how the state playoffs unfold, Council Rock North has thus far experienced perfection. They sport an unblemished 19-0 record and are District Champions.