SOL Boys' Volleyball District Preview (5-15-17)

Ten SOL teams will be competing in the District One 3A Tournament with seven teams in action in the opening round.

Bensalem is a decided underdog heading into this year’s District One 3A Tournament, but that’s just fine with the Owls, who are the 12th and final seed in the 12-team tournament. They’re just ecstatic to be competing in the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Bensalem’s return to districts underscores the program’s remarkable turnaround after last year’s 2-12 season. Their 6-6 record in the SOL National Conference speaks for itself after not winning more than two conference games since their four-win season in 2009.

“It’s been an amazing turnaround with a great group of guys,” coach Tim Linehan said. “The big key has been this team’s attitude and chemistry.

“Everyone has embraced their role from the starters to the last player on the bench. It sounds cliché, but it’s true about these guys. They love the game, they love practice, and they love being part of the team. My coaches and I have discussed numerous times that teams like this are why we all got into coaching in the first place.

There’s no mistaking the significant role of the team’s 10 seniors – five of whom had varsity experience from last year.

“It helps to have 10 seniors who have totally bought in,” Linehan said. “And as any coach would tell you, you need to have talented players, and this is the most balanced and deep roster I have had in my time here.”

The Owls are led by Joey Conley, who Linehan calls the “heart and soul” of the team. The senior captain is the team’s most dangerous weapon at the net with 172 kills.

“He leads us in kills and plays outstanding defense,” Linehan said.

Philip Bui had a breakout season after moving from the middle to the outside. He is second on the team with 141 kills.

“He also has played great in the back row,” Linehan said.

Ronak Shah runs the offense from his setter position and has 372 assists this season.

“He has had an outstanding year,” Linehan said. “Last year he was a defensive specialist, and this year he moved to setter and has performed incredibly well.”

Bensalem will travel to Central Bucks East for an opening round match on Monday.

#1 PENNSBURY (Bye)

#2 COUNCIL ROCK NORTH (Bye)

#3 CENTRAL BUCKS WEST (Bye)

#12 BENSALEM at #5 CENTRAL BUCKS EAST (Monday, May 15, 7 p.m.)
Central Bucks East

  • 14-4 overall
  • 13-3 SOL Continental Conference, tied with Pennridge for second place one point behind Central Bucks West
  • Carter Haban and Dylan Colbert lead the Patriots at the net while setter Mason Miller directs the offense and Liam Creedon is a catalyst on defense.
  • Swept #7 Souderton (3-2, 3-0), #9 Upper Dublin (3-1, 3-1) and #10 North Penn (3-0, 3-1)
  • Split season series with #6 Pennridge (3-0, 2-3)
  • Defeated #8 Neshaminy 3-1

Bensalem

  • 7-9 overall
  • 6-6 SOL National Conference fourth place behind Pennsbury, CR North and Neshaminy
  • Joey Conley (172 kills) and Philip Bui (141 kills) lead the Owls at the net. Setter Ronak Shah (372 assists) is the team’s floor general.
  • Extended #4 Avon Grove to five sets in a late-season match

#11 HAVERFORD at #6 PENNRIDGE (Tuesday, May 16, 7 p.m.)
Pennridge

  • 13-5 overall
  • 13-3 SOL Continental Conference, tied with Central Bucks East for second place one point behind Central Bucks West
  • Led by two-time all-state selection and Ball State commit Ben Chinnici, who was sidelined with an injury until April 19.
  • Cross Edwards, Josiah Friesen and setter Corey Quaste are also major contributors.
  • Won regular season series against #3 Central Bucks West (3-2, 3-0), #9 Upper Dublin (3-0, 3-1) and #10 North Penn (3-1, 3-0).
  • Split series with #5 Central Bucks East (0-3, 3-2) and #7 Souderton (1-3, 3-0)
  • Rams have won seven straight to close out season.

Haverford

  • 9-7 overall
  • Regular season losses to North Penn (0-3) and Upper Dublin (1-3)

#7 SOUDERTON at #10 NORTH PENN (Tuesday, May 16, 7 p.m.)
Souderton

  • 11-7 overall
  • 9-7 SOL Continental Conference fourth place behind CB West, CB East and Pennridge
  • Led by outside hitter Mike Pagan and setter Luke Pagan
  • Split season series with #6 Pennridge (3-1, 0-3), #9 Upper Dublin (2-3, 3-1) and #10 North Penn (3-1, 2-3)

North Penn

  • 11-9 overall
  • Bobby Dean leads the team in kills while Kishan Davara is the leader in blocks. Setter Ryan Ko directs the offense, and Manan Patel anchors the defense.
  • 8-8 SOL Continental Conference tied for fifth place with Upper Dublin.
  • Defeated #11 Haverford 3-0 and swept season series with #9 Upper Dublin (3-1, 3-1)
  • Split season series with #7 Souderton (1-3, 3-2).

#9 UPPER DUBLIN at #8 NESHAMINY (Tuesday, May 16, 7 p.m.)
Neshaminy

  • 11-8 overall
  • 7-5 SOL National Conference third place behind Pennsbury and CR North.
  • Led at the net by the dangerous one-two punch of Shaun Kelly (239 kills) and Tommy Edwards (236 kills). Setter Miguel Montalvo (547 assists) orchestrates the offense. The defense is led by Steve Wenderlich (197 digs).
  • Defeated #9 Upper Dublin 3-2 in opening match of the regular season
  • Split regular season series with #12 Bensalem (3-1, 1-3)

Upper Dublin

  • 11-9 overall
  • 8-8 SOL Continental Conference tied for fifth place with North Penn
  • Albert Sungenis leads the Cardinals at the net with setter Ryan Howie the team’s floor general. Jose Palomeque and Joe Choi anchor the defense.
  • Split regular season series with #6 Pennridge (3-0, 1-3) and #7 Souderton (3-2, 1-3)
  • Defeated #11 Haverford 3-1
  • Rematch of regular season opener against #8 Neshaminy, a 3-2 loss.