PLYMOUTH MEETING — Speaking of her team’s motivation and drive, Plymouth-Whitemarsh’s Neave Straff pointed to the rafters.

There, in PW’s spacious gym, sits the Colonials’ impressive but lonely banner, marking the team’s only women’s volleyball championship since 1984.

“It’s really exciting to try to make history at PW,” said Straff, a senior forward, “considering only one team has ever (won districts). We feel it.

“I think it’s nice that we’ve all been playing together for so long – 10 seniors. This year we just blended together and worked hard.”

The Colonials put their many efforts together for a thrilling 3-1 victory over Downingtown West in the District 1-4A quarterfinals on Saturday at a packed PW.

Senior forwards Adriana Storti, left, and Neve Straff were instrumental in PW’s 3-1 win over Downingtown West on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

The Colonials, coming off a hard-fought 25-22, 25-27, 25-22, 25-21 victory, advance to Tuesday’s district semifinals at home against either Garnet Valley or West Chester East.

“We really played and this is a group of athletes. Everybody’s doing their part,” senior forward Adriana Storti said. “There’s no weak link or anything.”

Colonials are guaranteed a spot in the states. The Whippets now enter games against three other teams in a battle for the fifth and final state tournament berth.

Coach David Parrish (center) talks to his team
Coach David Parrish (centre) talks to his Downingtown West team during their match against PW. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

D-West fought all the way.

Camryn Tuffner, Darby Weller, Melanie Bowman, Emma Helvston, Maddie McCall, and Bella Terra propelled the Whippets to one run after another, capturing the second set in stunning fashion.

But the colonials stayed the course.

Kyle Di Guglielmo strikes for PW during a match with
Kyle Di Guglielmo kicks for PW during their match against Downingtown West. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

“The girls stepped up. They got things done when they needed to,” said PW coach David Stewart, who led the team to the District Four finals. “It was just such a season.

“We definitely struggled in our serving game today. But the girls were very consistent the rest of our game. They didn’t let too much get to them and kept themselves confident, taking care of the ball when needed. Now it’s just a nice feeling.”

After the Whippets tied the score at 1-1, PW closed it out in two more tight but satisfying sets.

PW huddles during a match against Downingtown West.  (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)
PW huddles during a match against Downingtown West. (Kev Hunter/MediaNews Group)

“Every one of these teams is fantastic,” Stewart said. “We just have to find a way to put balls away and finish. Our setters (Rylie Watton and Ryenn Mamrosch) did a good job today. They did a good job. Sometimes our middles (Amanda Busk and Natalie Small) stepped up and got down to business.

“Our outsiders (Storti, Straf) played well today, steadily. The real bright spot was our rear defense. They really did a good job. They understood where the strikers hit the ball, took good positions and adjusted well. And they gave us a chance to stay in many points.”