The Academy at Palumbo girls volleyball team wears the target proudly.
The Griffins carry the weight of defending the Philadelphia Public League championship for a third consecutive season with each opponent hoping to knock them down a peg.
Palumbo started its season with a non-league loss to Cardinal O’Hara, but have rebounded with back-to-back victories over Olney Charter and Franklin Towne Charter to start their Public League journey. There’s a long way to go, but the Griffins are trending up once again.
“It’s definitely a lot of pressure because a lot of our starters from last year left,” said senior setter Pamela Morales after the 3-1 victory over Franklin Towne on Friday. “But Joyce (Liu) and a few other returning seniors feel like we need to step it up from last year. But we’re really excited. It’s a new team, new season and we’re happy we are back and getting into a normal routine.”
The Griffins are actually looking to win their second championship in about six months as last year’s fall season got pushed to the spring. Palumbo looks like it hasn’t missed a beat despite losing five valuable seniors from last year’s roster.
Liu has settled in as the libero after not getting much playing time last year and earned a role as captain, along with Morales.
“I was nervous at first,” said Liu, who lives in Packer Park. “I was messing up on my serves and my passes in the first game. It was a mess. But I got used to it and I’ve been doing a little better. We’re a team that plays together and we know each other well.”
Liu was deemed the hardest worker of the match and, as a reward, gets to pick a theme for the next practice. She chose ponytails as a team hairstyle, which will double as a team-bonding experience. It’s a key component to the Griffins’ long game of eyeing another championship.
Against Franklin Towne, the Griffins won the first two sets, before yielding the third. The Palumbo overpowered the Warriors, 25-6, in the final stanza. Libby Elser contributed seven kills and 16 aces while Noemi Torres and Caylah Green each contributed four kills each. Morales led the Griffins with 16 assists.
“We’re definitely building team chemistry,” said Morales, who lives in Point Breeze. “I can see a lot of improvement, not just from the returning players but from the new girls who are really nice and very talented.”
In other volleyball action last week, Horace Furness split a pair of games with a 3-1 victory over Hill Freedman World Academy before a 3-0 setback to Abraham Lincoln. The Falcons were 1-2 through Sept. 19.
Audenried Charter School pulled out a five-set match against West Philadelphia before dropping a 3-0 decision to Esperanza Academy. The Rockets were 1-1 through the weekend.
The School for Creative and Performing Arts dropped to 0-2 on the season after a straight sets loss to Philadelphia High School for Girls
In the Philadelphia Catholic League, Neumann-Goretti avenged a season-opening 3-0 loss to Little Flower with a victory over West Catholic.
The Furness girls scored three times in their season opening game but were defeated 6-3 by William Bodine.
Academy at Palumbo earned its first win of the season with a 5-3 victory over Franklin Learning Center. The Griffins were 1-1 through the weekend.
Furness rebounded nicely from an opening day disaster, by reeling off back-to-back victories to raise its record to 2-1 through the weekend. The Falcons defeated Philadelphia Academy, 6-1 before following up with a 5-1 win over Olney Charter two days later.
South Philadelphia High School opened its season with a 4-2 loss to G.W. Carver Engineering and Science but the Rams leveled their record by defeating String Theory 2-1.
Neumann-Goretti rallied to escape with a thrilling 14-7 win over Archbishop Ryan on Thursday night at the South Philadelphia Super Site.
The Saints trailed 7-0 heading into the fourth quarter before scoring a pair of touchdowns in the final eight minutes. Down 7-6, Neumann-Goretti scored on its final offensive drive of the game and added a two point conversion.
The Saints (2-1) are now 1-0 in the Philadelphia Catholic League’s Blue Division and will travel to face Conwell-Egan in a divisional matchup on Sept. 24. The game will be played at Harry S. Truman High School in Levittown.
Southern has now recorded back-to-back wins to start the season, following a 28-14 victory over Overbrook in a key National Division matchup on Saturday afternoon. The Rams will look to stay undefeated against George Washington on Sept. 24.
The Academy at Palumbo is still waiting to play its first game of the season and is preparing for opening night at School of the Future on Sept. 24. The Griffins had three games canceled so far due to weather-related issues, competitive indifference and an opponent that contracted Covid-19, according to Athletic Director E.J. Goldstein.