The Aces finished the season with an 18-7 record and placed fourth in the Central League. They defeated Kennett in the first round of the District 1 Class AAA playoffs before falling to Upper Merion in the second round.
"They worked hard and they deserved better," Loue said. "We were the deepest team I've coached."
Crucial to the squad's success were seniors Amy Pachter-Vail (setter), Bridget Carney (outside hitter), Laura Connor (outside hitter), Annah Shapiro (outside hitter/defensive specialist), Liz Brongniart (middle hitter), and Marissa Picker (outside hitter/defensive specialist).
"Our defense was really strong," Loue said. "The girls understood conceptually what we needed to do. Our profile was that of a scrappy team."
While the Aces will be hit by graduation next year, Loue said juniors Becky Coren (setter/outside hitter), Alice Grove (middle hitter), Jen Chapple (middle hitter), Alana Fagan (setter), Kelly Hanlon (outside hitter), and Jen Yee (outside hitter) all showed promise.
Family time. Combining fun with fierce play, Penncrest came within one victory of qualifying for the PIAA state tournament.
In Friday's District 1 Class AAA third-place game, the host Lions were edged by Pennsbury, 18-16, 15-12, 15-10.
Many observers didn't have the Lions (18-5) going that far this season, but coach Peggy Levesque always had faith in her team.
"At times we fluctuated up and down, but I knew we had the talent to do it," Levesque said. "Luckily, the kids started believing in themselves at the right time."
Senior captains Meghan McCarney, Judy Kestner and Tia Perich prevented the Lions from suffering any letdowns.
Fellow seniors Lauren Economou, Lauren Longbottom, Brynne Norton, Allison Auclair, Kristine Calderone, and Jamie Murphy also made significant contributions this season, along with sophomore setter Jen Lalli.
"They didn't treat her like a sophomore and she didn't play like a sophomore," Levesque said. "She's a very talented setter."
Entering the district tournament as the No. 6 seed, Penncrest topped No. 3 Upper Merion to advance to the semifinals.
Oxford awards. If the season had stretched just a little bit longer for Oxford, the results may have been different.
The Hornets were competitive in a match with Southern Chester County League champion Garnet Valley, falling, 15-11, 15-8.
"I couldn't believe it," Oxford coach Charles Graydus said. "They played super."
While Oxford was winless in 16 matches, they did win five games this year and developed players for the future.
"They were a bunch of good ladies," Graydus said. "It was really a pleasure coaching them. I'll miss this season. We'll bring a lot of people back next years, and in two years, we'll have some strength again."
Senior setter Allison Brown was named the team's MVP. A four-year player, Brown displayed leadership traits and was named to the all-star team at the Twin Valley Tournament.
Senior all-around player Stacey Sampson and senior outside hitter and captain Cathy Weaver were also MVP candidates. Sampson missed a chunk of the season with a bad back, but her return ignited the team.
State tournament time. The season continues for Villa Maria Academy and Merion Mercy Academy, who each play in the quarterfinals of the PIAA state tournament today at Shippensburg University. The semifinals and finals are set for Friday at Shippensburg.
Villa Maria (25-0), the five-time District 1 Class AAA champion, defeated Manheim Township, 17-15, 15-5, 15-13, on Tuesday.
Merion Mercy (19-1) topped Brandywine Heights, 15-8, 15-4, 15-9, in Class AA action.
Haverford High (20-3) was eliminated from the Class AAA tournament Tuesday by Bethlehem Freedom, 16-14, 15-11, 15-3.
Ira Josephs' e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org