The North Penn-Liberty volleyball Mounties have always been a strong team, winning three straight district titles entering the season, but the run they made in 2019 has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Losing a substantial number of great players from last season including Brooke Harvey who was not only a superb all-around player, but also one of the leaders for the Mounties, they had a short turnaround in which to solidify their roster this season, especially with first year head coach Jennifer Nawri taking over.
The Mounties had stars waiting in the wings though. Liberty had a large number of players, just waiting for their time to shine, and they accomplished just that.
Alli Koval, Grace Tice, Hannah Bowens, Elizabeth Welch and Julia Nawri played in a combined 155 sets last year in comparison to 449 sets this season, and have proven to not only be great replacements, but key contributors in the Mounties taking their play to the next level.
These five players have been crucial to the success that Liberty enjoyed this season, and along with seniors Maddison Minyo, JoAnne MacNamara, Patelin Nowak and junior Charisma Grega who amped up their stellar play from last year, they have created an unheard of depth amongst any team in not only the NTL, but also the entire state.
The Mounties boast a team that defensively frustrated opponents with their sound defense and communication that can make even the best strike by an opponent become just another day at the office for Liberty.
As Libero Koval has been one of the best in the state playoffs, as she constantly came up with plays that set her team up in rhythm, and she has been able to put together a phenomenal defensive season with 468 digs, 400 serve receives and 69 aces, all of which led her team.
Offensively, they boasted one of the most balanced attacks in possibly the whole state. They have two players in Grega and Minyo who are experienced leaders, both with over 300 kills and kill percentages of over 65%. Then they have Tice and Welch who are their net enforcers, constantly coming up big at the net with both topping 90 blocks this season, and Tice with 144 kills and Welch with 62.
Then there is MacNamara, the set-up artist. She is the distributor of the offense, and orchestrates with ease to all the options surrounding her. She has dished out 463 assists this year and her decision making is near perfect, knowing when to set up a teammate, or catch the defense leaning, and gives them a no-look dump to score a timely point.
In perfect complement of MacNamara, junior Nawri has also proven to be a masterful distributor on offense. She has been just as competent as MacNamara in the setting up of teammates, and during the state playoff run she was one of the many players that stepped up to the plate and has risen her game. Nawri has recorded over 900 assists this season, after only playing 10 sets total last year.
The regular season was all business as usual for The Mounties, led by the most balanced attack in the NTL they cruised through to a district championship, and only dropped one set for the entirety of the season. They used a combination of finesse and fire that no area teams were able to match.
The state playoffs loomed, but standing in the Mounties way was Holy Redeemer, who has been a thorn in the side of the Mounties as far back as most can remember. Holy Redeemer have had the Mounties number for years, and bounced the Liberty girls out of the first round in three straight seasons.
The Liberty girls not only won, but decimated the Holy Redeemer team in a win that was just the start of a magical run. With a 3-0 sweep over the team that has been their road-block for seasons, Liberty’s confidence grew to unseen levels.
They continued to knock off team after team in dominant fashion. Panther Valley was ranked ahead of Liberty in the PIAA Volleyball Coaches poll when they met, Liberty swept them 3-0.
When they faced a Trinity team ranked two spots ahead of them, they dominated again by a set score of 3-0. No matter if they were the underdogs or not, they played like the favorites, and with passion and energy that no team has yet to match.
The Liberty team climbed their way all the way to the State Championship game and were just one set short of coming up with the ultimate prize of a state championship. Despite the loss, the Mounties provided a season to remember, and their run felt nothing short of magical.
The passion and energy displayed by the team was completely off the charts, and anyone who watched them play could feel the love for the game bubbling over in the hearts of the Lady Mounties squad.
With a second place finish in the state championship, the Liberty team will have much loftier goals in the future, but will have the young up-and-coming players to help meet or exceed them.