Susquehannock’s Gabby Ogude blocks a kill attempt by Delone Catholic’s Amber Johnson on Tuesday. Delone outlasted Susquehannock, 3-2, to move on to the District 3-AA semifinals. (JOHN A. PAVONCELLO — firstname.lastname@example.org)
EMIGSVILLE — Eastern York was the first York-Adams League Division II club to defeat West York this season.
So it seemed only fitting that the Knights were the ones to end the Bulldogs’ season Tuesday night in the District 3-AA quarterfinals at Central York High School.
After cruising through the first go-round in the division, the Bulldogs had their troubles the second time around, even though they still managed to share the division title. And those problems — namely inconsistency — have plagued Coach Joe Ramp’s club ever since the Knights scored a five-game victory midway through the season.
The Bulldogs were in a position to win each game against Eastern, but faltered when it mattered most. Trailing 24-21 in Game 1, West York tied up the score only to see the Knights win the final two points. Ramp’s team couldn’t hold a 22-19 lead late in Game 2 to fall behind 2-0 in the match before falling apart in Game 3. A 12-0 run helped the Knights erase a 15-9 deficit and propelled them to a 26-24, 25-23, 25-16 victory.
Eastern will face Division III champ Delone Catholic in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Dallastown High School. The Squirettes staved off a pair of match points to survive against Susquehannock, 16-25, 25-18, 25-14, 20-25, 19-17 in the opener at Central in what was Warrior coach Rob Marrison’s final game.
“The first part of the season, we came out well,” Ramp said. “We shocked some teams right off the bat. But as teams grow throughout the season, they get better and they just met our level that we were playing at at the beginning of the season.”
While on paper, Tuesday’s sweep looks convincing, it was anything but that for portions of the night for Eastern.
“We were just kind of flat all night,” Golden Knight head coach Jen Reichard said. “And you have to credit them for pulling it out, but in order to beat a tough Delone team, we’re going to have to play our ‘A’ game.”
Neither side was especially crisp early, although the Knights were able to go ahead 17-8 midway through Game 1. The Bulldogs were able to rally back to even the score at 24-24, but a hitting error followed by a booming kill from Lauren Reichard (17 kills, four blocks) were enough to put Eastern up 1-0.
“Notoriously, when we (dig a hole), we struggle,” Coach Reichard said. “At this point of the season, we can’t afford to go down against tougher teams and try to fight your way back.”
Such was the case in Game 2, when the Knights gave up a five-point run to fall behind 8-5. Although Eastern was able to rally to tie the game up twice, the Bulldogs looked to be in good shape with a 22-19 lead late. But a lull in their play allowed the Knights to score six of the final seven points to go up 2-0.
“Consistency … we just didn’t have it tonight,” Ramp said. “Tonight was just more of Eastern’s night. They wanted it a little more, showed a little bit more heart out there. The energy level … that’s the one part of the year that we’ve been striving for. When we play with a lot of energy, we play well. And when you don’t have energy, we don’t.”
Ramp’s club jumped out to a 15-9 lead in Game 3 after an impressive 7-0 run but things turned around real quick. A service error gave the ball back to the Knights, who scored 11 more points with the ball to go up 21-15. In total, Eastern finished Game 3 with an emphatic 16-1 run.
Allie Crumbling and Jocelyn Vaughn paced the Knight defense with 14 digs each, while setter Lauryn Snyder dished out 31 assists. Amanda Sides led West York with 11 kills, while libero Alexis Harbold registered 16 digs and setter Meryssa Love recorded 32 assists.
Warriors nearly upset defending champs in coach’s final game: It was a little more than a week ago when Susquehannock took the York-Adams League champion Squirettes to five games in the first round of the league playoffs. And sure enough, it would take another five games for a winner to be decided Tuesday.
Marrison’s club scored a 25-16 victory in Game 1 to take a 1-0 lead in the match against Delone, matching what the Warriors did last Monday. And similarly enough, Delone rallied to win the next two games before the Warriors took Game 4.
That set up for an epic Game 5. While last week’s match had no win-or-go-home stakes to it, Tuesday’s showdown very much did. And with the stakes at an all-time high, both sides battled hard for every point. Even the normally reserved Marrison was a little amped up at times.
“I’m normally pretty calm on the sideline, but I figured if this was going to be it, I want to go down swinging,” he said.
The two sides traded points back and forth over the first 26 points of the fifth game until the Warriors took a 14-13 lead after a kill by Tyler Williams. After a timeout, Delone tied it up only to miss its ensuing serve and give Susquehannock another match-point chance at 15-14.
A kill by Maddie Comly (10 kills) evened up the match, which continued to go back-and-forth until Sarah Senft (13 kills) scored her final kill of the night to put the Squirettes ahead 18-17. Delone prevailed on the following point when Maryland-recruit Abigail Bentz’s kill attempt sailed just wide of the line.
With the season over, many of the Susquehannock girls had tears in their eyes. The fact that Marrison announced that he would not be coming back next year only added to their emotions.
“For me, personally, it’s been a blessing (coaching),” Marrison said. “To spend the time with the kids that I’ve been able to spend (time with) over the years and the relationships that have been formed, it’s been phenomenal. To come home from a crappy day at work and walk into a gym with kids with smiles on their faces … how much better does that get?”
While the Susquehannock program has seen its share of all-state caliber players throughout the past two decades, Bentz (16 kills, 17 digs) will likely be one of the program’s all-time greats. She’s the first player in Marrison’s coaching career to earn a Division I scholarship to a major NCAA program such as Maryland, where she will go from hitting to setting.
“The coaches told her flat out that she’s not coming to sit on the bench,” Marrison said. “She’s playing. So it’s going to be exciting.”
Kelly Franz dished out 25 assists while Amber Sweitzer added 15 more for the Warriors. Libero Kerrie Defelice recorded nine aces and tallied 39 digs in the match.
OTHER DISTRICT 3 GIRLS’ VOLLEYBALL
York Catholic 3, Conestoga Christian 0: At Lower Dauphin, the Lady Irish rolled into the District 3-A semifinals with a 25-16, 25-18, 25-20 triumph. The Irish will now face Mount Calvary in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Central York. Mount Calvary beat Convenant Christian in its quarterfinal match, 3-0. With a win on Thursday, York Catholic will clinch a state playoff berth. In Tuesday’s victory, Natalie Stewart (18 assists, six aces, four digs, three kills), Meredith Beecher (eight digs, six kills, three aces), Maggie Allen (five kills, three blocks, two aces) and Anna Debiec (seven digs, two aces, two assists) paced York Catholic.
Exeter 3, Central York 0: At Dallastown, the Panthers suffered a 25-17, 25-23, 28-26 loss in a District 3-AAA quarterfinal match, ending the Panthers’ season. Central was the York-Adams Division I champion this season. Exeter, which is 18-0, was ranked sixth in the state in the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class AAA rankings. The Eagles won Berks League Division I. Allison Rife (nine kills), Andrea Quartey (seven kills, four blocks), Emily Poole (seven kills), Laura Fahs (17 digs, four kills, two aces), Julia Terpak (19 assists, six digs) and Hannah Rishel (18 digs) excelled in defeat for Central.
Elizabethtown 3, Red Lion 1: At Hempfield, the Lions got off to a fast start but couldn’t hold on in a 19-25, 25-14, 25-8, 25-22 loss in a District 3-AAA quarterfinal meeting. The loss ended Red Lion’s season. Red Lion was led by Brooke Daugherty (20 assists), Lauren Enfield (10 digs, five aces) and Jenna Hevner (eight kills).
Brandywine Heights 3, Bermudian Springs 1: At Lower Dauphin, the Eagles dropped a 25-23, 25-12, 19-25, 25-17 decision in a District 3-AA quarterfinal contest, ending the Eagles’ season. Bermudian’s leaders were Gabby Emeigh (15 assists, five digs), Caitlyn Rohrbaugh (12 service points, two kills), Cheyenne Topper (seven digs) and Madyson Whitcomb (seven digs, seven kills).
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.