By RYAN VANDERSLOOT
DALLASTOWN — There’s always something extra special about winning a title three years in a row, especially in high school athletics.
Most teams typically experience a lot of changes over that time frame, with standouts graduating and underclassmen stepping into bigger roles.
When a championship run reaches three years, it’s pretty clear that the program is in really good shape.
Such is the case with the Delone Catholic girls’ volleyball team. After years of disappointments in the York-Adams League Tournament, the Squirettes have turned things around the past few years. Winners of the last two tournament crowns, Coach Jason Leppo’s team was able to make it a three-peat Tuesday night at Dallastown High School.
After surviving against a top-flight opponent in Division I champion Central York in the semifinals, Delone cruised past Division I runner-up Red Lion in the finals. The Squirettes controlled play throughout the finals, winning 25-14, 25-15, 25-19.
“This is a really phenomenal thing that we have going on right now,” Leppo said. “To think of some of the teams and some of the coaches we’ve gone through … this is a heck of an accomplishment.”
After a surviving a grueling five-game match against Susquehannock on Monday and then a four-game showdown with the Panthers, Leppo’s club appeared to be anything but tired in rolling past the Lions. With the score even at 7-7 in Game 1, the Division III champs turned things up a notch, winning 15 of the next 19 points.
That level of domination continued into Game 2 and Game 3. The Squirettes jumped out to a 15-4 lead in Game 2 and a 17-11 advantage in Game 3. And to know that all of this came with Delone standout Cheyenne Altland on the bench with back issues makes it even more amazing for Leppo and his coaching staff.
“Her back locked up on her,” Leppo said. “And she’s a tough kid. So for her to say that she should sit this one out, you knew it had to be really bugging her. And maybe (her absence) was what (got us going). Or maybe it was pure exhaustion, but we just looked calm and steady for the whole match.”
Red Lion had troubles all night finding the floor. The Delone defense refused to allow a ball to hit the court easily. Katie Laughman and Kayla Baadte combined for 23 digs to foil Red Lion’s offense.
“Delone deserved this win,” Red Lion coach Heather Shoemaker said. “They’re a fun team to watch defensively. They have a relentless pursuit and when they go and get it, they can then run their offense.”
That defense limited Red Lion standout Lindsey Blevins to five kills, while setter Brooke Daugherty dished out 17 assists.
The Squirettes also served well, tallying 13 aces in the victory. Kerigan Emig, Maddie Comly and Baadte each recorded three aces. Lilly Singleton led Delone with 11 kills, while Laughman dished out 27 assists.
Shoemaker is hoping that the experience from tough victories over York Suburban and West York, as well as the clash against Delone, will help her team as it prepares for the upcoming District 3-AAA Tournament. Those three squads all have scrappy defenses that put the onus on their opponents to not make hitting miscues.
“I think we learned that we have to keep running that energy and riding that momentum,” she said. “And we lacked that a little in the final.”
Delone advanced to the final after defeating Central York, 25-20, 25-21, 25-27, 25-18 in the semifinals. Red Lion moved on after downing West York, 25-18, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23 in the other semifinal.
OTHER GIRLS’ VOLLEYBALL
York Tech 3, York 0: At York, Brooke Glass led the Spartans to the 25-10, 25-22, 25-18 non-divisional victory on Tuesday with 10 aces, 18 digs and 15 assists. Also for Tech, Kayli Shoff had 17 digs and 10 assists, D’Shanna Edwards had 10 digs, five aces, four assists and three kills and Krista Ruppert had 12 digs and five aces. For the Bearcats, Paola Ramos had three kills, while Cheyenne Bradford had three blocks.
York 3, Harrisburg 1: At Harrisburg, the Bearcats earned their first win of the season on Monday, 25-16, 15-25, 25-23, 25-23. Paola Ramos (seven kills) and Cheyenne Bradford (six kills) led York.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.