Central York girls' volleyball sweeps D-I rival Spring Grove

York Dispatch
Central York's Mackenzie Wright-Rawls (32) against Spring Grove during their girls volleyball match in Springettsbury, on Thursday Sept. 22, 2022

EMIGSVILLE — There were a few extra items on the preseason checklist for the Central York girls’ volleyball team this season.

No. 1, of course, was winning back the York-Adams League Division I title. No. 2, and somewhat just as important, was shelling out a bit of payback to Spring Grove.

During the Rockets' run to the PIAA Class 3A title a season ago, the Panthers were one of the few teams to take the Papertown girls to the max. Dropping that five-set contest, which could have gone either way, certainly didn’t taste right for the Panthers.

The six juniors on that squad certainly didn’t forget. Now, as seniors, they had their first opportunity for a bit of redemption Thursday as Central York hosted Spring Grove. And the Panthers banded together at the end of each set to secure a very satisfying 25-21, 25-22, 25-23 triumph. The contest was a battle of wills, each side refusing to budge, but Central York got what it was waiting for.

“It was mentioned at practice this week,” Panthers senior Lauren Sommer said of the looming clash with the Rockets. “We had it definitely going through the back of our heads when we were on the court.”

Fellow senior Brooke Yankanich, who finished with seven kills and 11 digs on the night, was the lone one member of the Panthers' senior group to have started and played in last year’s matches. To Yankanich, Thursday’s battle was a big one.

“Definitely for me, it was kind of a personal thing,” Yankanich said. “That was something that was in the back of my mind and I really tried to use during the game.”

Central York against Spring Grove during their girls volleyball match in Springettsbury, on Thursday Sept. 22, 2022

It was a big week, too, for the Panthers (5-0 overall, 5-0 Division I), who swept South Western Tuesday. The Rockets (6-3, 3-2) and Mustangs (6-2, 3-2) were among the favorites to compete for a D-I title, so getting a pair of sweeps was a big boost of confidence as well.

“It was a hell of a week,” Central York coach Nate Ocasio said. “I’m very happy that we didn’t have these two matches earlier in the year, because I don’t think we were ready. Having a handful of matches and a couple of tournaments under our belt was certainly good for us.”

Unlike many other high-caliber teams in the area, the Panthers really don’t have a true No. 1 option on the attack. Instead, like Thursday, it was a mix of different hitters that help carry the squad to victory. Emma Chataginer, a sophomore, led the Panthers with nine kills, while Mackenzie Wright-Rawls finished with five kills and a block.

“You just never know who you have to stop on a nightly basis,” Ocasio said. “But that’s kind of the beauty of it.”

While the Panthers, who sit atop the District 3 Class 4A power rankings after Thursday’s contest, have gotten off to the start they were hoping for so far this season, they cannot afford to rest and relax, especially in a very competitive Division I. Case in point, next week brings a battle with Dallastown (9-3 overall, 4-1 D-I), which has also started to put things together as of late.

“That’ll be another good one,” Ocasio said. “But we’re in Division I, so you know you never get a night off.”

The Rockets, who have dropped three of their last four matches after a 5-0 start, were led offensively by outside hitter Alanya Zeigler. The freshman finished with 18 kills while McKenzie Boyer tallied 10. Setter Mylie Ormond dished out 14 assists and Aubrey Zeigler added seven.

Central York setter Taryn Peters finished with 22 assists, six digs and two aces, while Sommer paced the Panthers' defense with 13 digs in the triumph.