DALLASTOWN — It was over.
At least that was the consensus from the majority of fans in attendance at Dallastown High School Thursday night.
The Kennard-Dale boys’ volleyball team was ready to punch its ticket to the quarterfinals of the District 3-AA boys’ volleyball playoffs.
Leading by as many as six points (13-7) in a deciding Game 5 against York-Adams rival York Suburban, the Rams could taste the program’s first-ever district win.
But that was as close as the Rams would get.
The Trojans, who played up and down throughout the best-of-five contest, started to click at just the right time. Their serve-receive settled into a groove, while the Rams helped out with a handful of hitting errors.
Suburban survived a match-point and the whole team celebrated in unison on the court when the final K-D attack sailed out of bounds.
The 25-22, 17-25, 23-25, 25-18, 17-15 victory not only ended K-D’s history-making campaign, but also sent the Trojans to the quarterfinals against No. 1 seeded Northeastern on Monday at Dallastown at 7 p.m. Northeastern had a bye on Thursday.
“One of our parents said they thought it was over,” K-D coach Jim Keirn said. “But I never think it’s over until I see a 25, or 15, on our side. I’m never satisfied (until then).”
Suburban didn’t look very impressive throughout the early part of Game 5. In fact, on back-to-back plays, setter Lars Dalemar (29 assists, 14 digs, six blocks, three kills) failed to put the ball where standout hitter Jacob Kauffman (23 kills, 18 digs) was expecting it.
Both times the set attempt fell helplessly to the court with both players staring at each other in disbelief.
“We were trying to split our offense up, and Jake thought he was going to the side and Lars went with the 1-ball,” Suburban coach Jamie Evans said. “Then they reversed it on the very next play.”
While the Trojans are hardly the most experienced team in the District 3 field after graduating eight seniors from a team that advanced to the PIAA Class AA state finals a year ago, they showed a lot of resiliency with their backs against the wall.
“We’ve been talking about not getting frustrated with each other,” Evans said. “This is a team sport and you have to play as a team and I’m glad to see that they didn’t allow that to affect them. That was a page out of last year’s playbook in perseverance and pushing through those tough moments.”
Evans used the second of his two timeouts in Game 5 after his team fell behind 11-5. While that wasn’t very surprising, the fact that he didn’t say a word to his team, and instead allowed senior Brad Hartshorne to do the talking, was very unusual.
“It was just something simple,” said Hartshorne, who finished with five kills, six blocks and eight digs. “I don’t know. I didn’t want my senior season to end. I didn’t want to be one of those guys (Kennard-Dale) over there having his heart broken at the end of this.”
After a kill from Ryan Bury (four kills) gave the Trojans a match-point at 16-15, the contest finally concluded when K-D standout Nate Ellis smashed a final kill attempt out of play.
Ellis and fellow senior Dylan Tessier both played brilliantly in their final high-school contests. While official stats weren’t made available from the K-D coaching staff, both standouts would have definitely filled the stat sheets.
“Ellis and (Tessier) did a phenomenal job,” Evans said. “And that was every time we played them. We had them the first game of the season to Monday night to tonight and they really led this team. Hats off to them.”
Both seniors helped the K-D program reach new heights in its short history. The Rams finished the season with a 7-6 record, easily besting the previous record for wins in a season, which was three.
Both figure to remain active in the sport after graduation this summer. Ellis is slated to continue his volleyball career next season at Stevenson University, while Tessier is headed to Culver-Stockton College in Missouri.
DALLASTOWN 3, LOWER DAUPHIN 1: At Hempfield, Kyle Brignall pounded 31 kills as the 12th-seeded Wildcats took out the fifth-seeded Falcons, 25-23, 25-23, 14-25, 25-21, in a District 3-AAA first-round match.
Justin Barnett racked up 47 assists for Dallastown, and Sam Ward and Linc Reinalda combined for eight kills.
The victory earned the Wildcats a spot in the Class AAA quarterfinals. Dallastown will take on York County rival Central York at 6 p.m. Monday at Milton Hershey. Central is the No. 4-seeded team.
– Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.