DALLASTOWN — It had been quite a while since Susquehannock boys' volleyball coach Tim Bonitz got an up-close-and-personal look at West York, which was the Warriors' opponent in Thursday's first round of the District 3-AA playoffs.
The Bulldogs and Warriors squared off in the regular-season opener for both York-Adams League clubs, a match that Susquehannock won in a sweep back on March 26.
So Bonitz stuck around on Monday after his club fell to York Suburban in the league playoffs to catch a glimpse of West York, which fell to Red Lion that same night.
The extra time spent Monday proved invaluable on Thursday when the Warriors appeared to be well prepared for their league rivals. Led by 13 kills from standout Nathan Rohrbaugh and 28 assists from setter Stephen Rouse, Bonitz's club again rolled past the Bulldogs, 25-15, 25-19, 25-21, in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Dallastown High School.
The Warriors reward for downing West York is a quarterfinal showdown with Northeastern on Monday night at Central York High School. The top-seeded Bobcats had a first-round bye in the 12-team tournament.
In the other match at Dallastown, Central Dauphin dropped the first game to Red Lion, but roared back to capture a 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 26-24 victory in a Class AAA first-round clash.
"I took some good notes on them," Bonitz said. "So we really knew what we had to attack and prepare for these past two days."
The main area of focus was on the service games — both serving and serve-receive. Bonitz's squad was able to sustain rallies and stunt West York runs pretty much throughout the contest.
"We really focused on our serve-receive game," Bonitz said. "And I felt that helped us really get the edge."
After the Bulldogs raced out to a 4-1 lead in Game 1, the Warriors turned things around with a kill by Rohrbaugh. That set up Mark Beardsley to serve and the senior ran off six points in a row to get his team on top for good.
It didn't stop there. Rohrbaugh and company used a 7-1 blitz early in Game 2 to sustain control.
"We just discovered some of the patterns that they used in that first game and that helped us here tonight," Rohrbaugh said.
Bonitz added: "We found a lot of seams between their passers and we tried to get them to fight over some balls. Anything that would disrupt any type of timing or to give away where they were going to try to put away the ball."
It appeared to be much the same case in Game 3, when the Warriors jumped out to a 14-7 lead midway through. The Bulldogs, however, showed some grit behind the serving of senior Josh Rinehart (four aces, five digs, three kills, one block) and the attacking of Austin Groff (eight kills, two blocks, four digs). That duo spurred a 7-0 run that evened things up seemingly in the blink of an eye.
"(Rinehart) is a really good jump-server and he was really hard to pass off of (his serves)," Rohrbaugh said. "But we came back and got ourselves together."
The game was deadlocked several times after Rinehart's run, but the Warriors were able to seal the victory with a two-point run to end it.
Now Bonitz and company will have to do a lot of homework to prepare to battle Northeastern, the No. 3 ranked team in the state in AA according to the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Poll.
Regardless of the outcome, Rohrbaugh is pumped up to get a chance to see if his team can pull off a major upset Monday.
"It's going to be exciting," he said. "Any time we get a chance to play a really good team is exciting for us."
Lions fail to hold early lead against CD: For a team making its first District 3 playoff appearance in quite some time, getting off to a good start was a must for Red Lion.
And they did just that against Mid-Penn power Central Dauphin, taking Game 1 by a 25-21 clip.
The Lions had chances in Game 2 to take control of the match, but were unable to hold it together. Their serve-receive had some issues. Those problems resulted in poor passes, which prevented clean attacks.
"Our passing got to us and we couldn't execute any good attacks," said Red Lion coach Ashleigh Reinert. "And that really killed our momentum at times."
For a team such as the Rams, who captured the PIAA Class AAA title a few years back, giving them free ball opportunities is a recipe for disaster. As a result, the senior-laden Lions saw their season come to an abrupt conclusion.
"They know that they left everything out on the court," Reinert said. "They're upset, but I thanked them for a great season. They made some history for our program and they're leaving a bit of a legacy behind. We don't have any juniors on our roster, so they kind of showed the sophomores what it means to take a team to the next level."
Jared Warner led the Lions with 17 kills while teammate Bennett Frey tallied 10 kills. Hunter Klein and Chandler Ehrhart combined for 39 assists, while Frey paced the defense with 15 digs.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.