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Volleyball team wants to return to distirct tourney

Like many other teams, the Northwestern Lehigh High School girls volleyball team was not afforded much time to practice together or even play club ball outside of the program due to the pandemic. But even with little time to acclimate themselves together on the court after a large graduating class of eight seniors from last year departed, the Tigers have impressed head coach Alexandra Ashburne with their teamwork.

“I believe that this team has very strong communication and unity,” said Ashburne, in her fourth season at the helm. “They work extremely well together. When I watched them play together for the first time during our scrimmage two weeks ago, I couldn’t believe that they had never played together before. They flowed and meshed so well together instantly. It’s incredible how much they’ve come together.”

Last season, the Tigers finished 8-10 overall and 4-6 in the Colonial League. The four players returning from last year’s team are Rachel Anderson, Sara Jenkins, Brynn Buschta and Ella Carson.

Seniors Buschta and Carson will lead the Tigers this season. Buschta, an All-Colonial League Second Teamer came through as a setter last year with 150 digs, 46 aces and 48 kills. Carson was injured during the first half of last season, but still made an impact in her short time with 32 digs, 10 aces and 33 kills as a defensive specialist and outside hitter.

Juniors Olivia Silfies and Samantha Moss, along with sophomore Jenna Breininger are all expected to contribute.

“Our team has many talented players, but we need to be more consistent with our overall play,” Ashburne said. “This can be combated by developing our endurance and ability to perform under pressure.”

Northwestern opens up its 2020 Colonial League campaign at Palmerton on Friday. Even with a shortened schedule this year, Ashburne still has the same goals as she does every other season.

“As always, my goal is for my players to develop their skills along with their character,” said Ashburne. “I also want our team to perform well enough this season that we can play a district qualifying game. We had this opportunity last season and I would like to get back there again.”

Within the Colonial League, other top contenders include league champion Southern Lehigh, Saucon Valley and Notre Dame (Green Pond). Outside of the conference, Blue Mountain, Jim Thorpe, Panther Valley and Tamaqua will be competitive and challenging games for the Tigers.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ The Northwestern Lehigh girls volleyball teams is hoping for a second straight district-qualifying season.