DALLASTOWN -- There are a lot of skills on the volleyball court that can come and go during a match.
Cumberland Valley, however, possesses one attribute that doesn't go away -- size.
The Susquehannock girls learned that the hard way on Thursday night in the District 3-AAA semifinals.
The Eagles boast a trio of tall hitters in setter Kelly Friers (6-foot-2), Peighton Wright (6-3) and Lizzy Scott (5-10). They gave the Warriors fits all night.
While Coach Rob Marrison's club put forth its best effort, in the end it was too tall a task for the York-Adams League Division I champions. The Warriors failed to convert on three chances to win a pivotal Game 3 and couldn't recover. CV bested Susquehannock, 25-17, 17-25, 28-26, 25-17, at Dallastown High School to advance to Saturday's finals.
The Eagles will face Hempfield, a 3-0 winner over Garden Spot, in the championship match at 7 p.m. Saturday back at Dallastown High.
The Warriors, meanwhile, still have a shot to earn a berth into the PIAA state playoffs by winning the district third-place match against the Spartans at 5 p.m. Saturday at Dallastown Middle School.
Size was a huge factor against the Warriors on Thursday, a point not lost on Marrison, whose club lacks a player taller than 5-10.
"If I had one kid that was 6-foot-something, that would be great," Marrison said. "I looked in the gym here tonight and between Cumberland Valley and Hempfield it was like, 'good lord.'"
CV coach Jackie Orner is grateful to be blessed with such a big and dynamic club.
"You can't teach big," she said. "It's a beautiful thing."
The Eagles utilized their size to their advantage in rolling to an easy victory in Game 1. After the match was briefly tied at 1-1, CV scored the next three points and never looked back. Susquehannock fell behind by as many as nine (21-12) before a late rally, but it was too little, too late.
"We've played some tall teams in some tournaments this year and we've competed well," Marrison said. "But if we're not really on our service game and playing defense at the level that we need to, then the height really breaks us down."
The late push in Game 1 carried over to Game 2. The Warriors pushed the lead to 5-2 early, thanks to some CV miscues. The snowball effect continued and Marrison's club eventually built a 21-11 lead before cruising to even the match.
"That's ball control and not staying in our offense," Orner said of her team's play in Game 2. "That's something that this group needs to work on. But we also have to get to where their weaknesses are and they don't have many."
In the pivotal Game 3, the Eagles appeared to be completely in control after storming to a 19-12 lead, but the Warriors rallied with a 12-3 run to earn a 24-22 edge.
On the cusp of taking a 2-1 lead, the Warriors couldn't put it away. CV got a pair of kills to even it up and the teams battled back-and-forth down the stretch. A hitting error and a passing error by the Warriors on back-to-back plays with the score at 26-26 allowed the Eagles to prevail, 28-26.
"I thought at the start of that game that we really dug ourselves a big hole," Marrison said. "We were able to attack more balls to the one position, and that's what we were able to do, and that's what got us back into it."
CV broke open Game 4 with the score tied at 7-7 when Scott spurred a four-point run. Marrison's club would only cut the deficit to as close as two (12-10) before the Eagles ran away with things late.
"I just felt that we had a lot of energy that I thought we could carry over to Game 4, but it just didn't go there for us," he said. "They broke us down totally with their big block all night."
Abigail Bentz led the Warriors with 14 kills to go with seven assists, 11 digs and two blocks. Kelly Franz dished out a team-high 17 assists, while libero Bethany Miller finished with 24 digs.
CV was led by Scott's 17 kills while Friers, perhaps one of the tallest setters throughout District 3, finished with 42 assists to go with seven kills.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.