DALLASTOWN -- The hallmark of a champion isn't always about how many wins it accumulates.
It also isn't always about style-points, either.
Sometimes, a true champion can be identified by how it responds to adversity.
After Thursday's back-to-back performances, there's no doubt that the York Suburban boys' volleyball team has all the markings of a champion.
The Trojans rallied with their backs against the wall in the semifinals of the York-Adams League Tournament against Dallastown. The Wildcats were just two points away from claiming a victory over Suburban, but the Trojans scored the final eight points to win Game 4, propelling them to an eventual five-game triumph.
Coach Jamie Evans' team found itself in another dicey situation in the finals against Northeastern. After Suburban won the first game, the Bobcats rebounded to win Game 2 and tie up the contest, 1-1.
How did Suburban respond?
Emphatically, to say the least.
The Trojans got off to quick starts in Game 3 and Game 4 and never allowed the Bobcats a chance to rally en route to a 25-19, 19-25, 25-17, 25-9 victory in the finals.
The championship was the school's first since sweeping both the regular-season and playoff crowns in the 2001.
"When you get kicked once, it should wake you up," Bobcat coach Matt Wilson said of Suburban. "Then you step up and take it to another level. And they have another gear."
The Trojans did just that when they scored six of the first seven points in the Game 3 to regain momentum. The Bobcats managed to cut the deficit to 10-8 at one point, but Suburban responded with a three-point run and never looked back.
"We knew that they were not going away," Evans said. "They've done it before and they did it (earlier Thursday), coming back from two games down to Dover. We knew we had to go out and play hard and we had to battle back."
The Trojans, who are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class AA by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association, utilized their size and variety of weapons throughout the finals. Jaryd Eshler (13 kills, 10 digs) and Ted Hinnekamp (11 kills) paced the attack, while Jacob Kauffman (six kills, nine blocks) and Brad Hartshorne (two kills, eight blocks) led the block. It was that blocking, in particular, that impressed Evans. The Trojans tallied 24 blocks, an area in which Evans' team has struggled for much of the season. Evans was clearly relieved to see it come up big in the season's biggest match so far.
"We've been working on the block the past two weeks," he said. "To finally see it coming together and to see them reading the hitters' angles was definitely a big step for us. I think Jake and Brad stepped up big. ... This was big for us. We knew this was one of the areas that we could improve upon."
While Wilson always expects his team to compete for championships, he gave credit to the Trojans for putting everything together against his youthful team that has just two seniors.
"Suburban is a nice team," he said. "We're all trying to catch up (with them). They have a lot of maturity over there."
Kody Deiter finished with 36 assists and 15 digs in the championship contest. Fred Gard added seven kills and 12 digs for Suburban.
Stephen Braswell led Northeastern with 13 kills to go with 14 digs. Luke Braswell dished out 25 assists, while Philip White finished with 17 digs.
Trojans survive close call in semifinals: After the medal ceremony, it was hard to believe that Deiter, Hartshone, Evans and company came precariously close to heading home early Thursday.
"When it was like 23-17 (in Game 4 vs. Dallastown), I was like, 'Wow. We're going to lose this game.' Fortunately Jaryd (Eshler) put the team on his back," Deiter said of Eshler's service run that brought his team back in the clutch.
Evans was even contemplating what he'd say to his team after a potential semifinal loss. Thanks to Eshler, he didn't have to make that speech.
"To be honest, I was thinking, 'What am I going to say to them?'" he said. "I knew how bad they wanted it. Luckily that miracle happened."
After tying the semifinal bout, the Trojans rolled to a victory in Game 5 that clinched the match (19-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-23, 15-7) and sent them to the finals.
Notes: Eshler finished with 18 kills and 16 digs in the semifinal victory. Gard added 17 kills to go with 16 digs. Hinnenkamp tallied 14 kills, while Kauffman finished with 11 kills and four blocks. Deiter dished out 56 assists to go with 18 digs, while Hartshorne combined five kills with seven blocks.
The Bobcats were in a two-game hole in their semifinal showdown with Dover before prevailing 22-25, 17-25, 25-17, 25-16, 15-13. Stephen Braswell led Northeastern with 24 kills to go with 16 digs in the victory. Matt Hollinger finished with 11 kills and a team-high 18 digs, while Malik Jefferson slammed home 10 kills. Luke Braswell dished out 56 assists to go with three kills and 10 digs.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.