Delone Catholic girls' volleyball holds off York Suburban in 5-set battle

Ryan Vandersloot
For the York Dispatch
Delone Catholic's Olivia Snyder bumps the ball during PIAA District 3, Class 2-A girls' volleyball semifinal action against York Catholic at York Catholic High School in York City, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. York Catholic would win the match 3-1. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Coaches, players and fans alike crave the nights when a pair of high-caliber programs square off.

While the stakes are not nearly as high as they are come the postseason, matches between two incredibly talented squads provide quality competition and experience for the players involved.

Such was the case Tuesday when York Suburban hosted Delone Catholic in a York-Adams League crossover contest. Both the Trojans, who entered the night unbeaten and atop the District 3 Class 3A rankings, and Squirettes, who are coming off a weekend in which they knocked off parochial rivals Berks Catholic and Bethlehem Catholic, expect to have lengthy playoff runs this fall.

Their clash at Suburban High School certainly didn’t disappoint.

After taking the first two sets, the Delone girls saw the home team storm back in the next two sets to for a pivotal fifth set.

Going the distance is something the Squirettes, who won both contests Saturday in five sets, have become accustomed to of late. That experience may have proved invaluable, as the visitors raced ahead early in Set 5 before pulling away for a 25-23, 25-19, 16-25, 23-25, 15-6 triumph.

“When you have two good, solid teams like we had here tonight battling it’s going to be a tossup with whomever is going to walk away with that win,” Suburban coach Sonia Guyer said. “That’s for sure.”

Guyer noted that it may have taken her squad, which won the Y-A title and finished second in the District 3 Class 3A tournament last season, a little bit longer to adjust to a lineup change that was the result of an injury to one of the team’s middle hitters.

It didn’t help that the Squirettes came out with some extra juice after knocking off a Bethlehem Catholic team on Saturday that had been ranked No. 8 in Class 3A in the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association poll.

“We’ve had a really tough string of games against tough opponents,” Delone coach Nate Staub said. “And I think we’re starting to figure some things out.”

The Squirettes (7-2 overall) were able to get some attacks from the middle that set up outsides Meredith Keefer (21 kills) and Danea Bello (18 kills) for more open looks throughout the night. Kaitlyn Schwarz and Ella Hughes combined for 11 kills, while Marley Rudolph finished with eight on the evening.

“We had a slightly different rotation,” Guyer said in reference to missing sophomore middle Carrie Stump. “So we just kind of had to make some adjustments to kind of work around it.”

Momentum shifted early in Set 3 as the Trojans came out like a team worthy of another deep playoff run. Makenna Stockton (14 kills, 11 aces) was a constant thorn from the service line, as her velocity and placement made life difficult on the Delone serve-receive.

“She was serving us all off the court,” Staub said. “We were trying to adjust, but she was really just toying with us from the service line.”

The Trojans jumped out to an 11-2 lead in Set 3 before cruising the victory, but the momentum grinded to a halt in Set 4 as the Squirettes jumped out to an 11-5 lead early. York Suburban rallied back to even it up at 21-21, then won four of the next six points to force a winner-take-all fifth set.

“Makenna is a really great player,” Guyer said. “She does a lot of great things for us and she does a lot of things leadership-wise, too.”

Set 5, however, began with the Squirettes getting things righted from the opening serve.

“We got the early lead and had momentum going our way,” Staub said. “If you get a couple of things to go your way in a Set 5, anything can happen.”

After losing five seniors from last year’s squad, the Trojans have more than enough talent to compete every night. They do lack in big-game experience, but battles like this could plant the seeds.

“We don’t like to say it’s a rebuilding year,” Guyer said. “Our JV teams have always been stellar, so every year it literally is just reconfiguration and not rebuilding. We knew coming in that it was going to be more difficult without having one of our middles, but we also knew that tonight was an opportunity for other girls to step up. And we’re lucky because this is a non-league game.”

Freshman Colbie McKenna finished with a team-best 18 kills for the Trojans (3-1), while setter Avia Duerr finished with 33 assists.