DALLASTOWN — The Dallastown boys' volleyball players have had issues getting ahead of themselves this season.
That is exactly what Coach Lance Ranck wanted to avoid heading into their York-Adams League first-round showdown with rival Red Lion Monday night.
Looking toward a District 3-AAA berth last week, the Wildcats squandered a 2-0 lead against New Oxford.
With a potential semifinal showdown with reigning league champ Central York looming on Tuesday, as well as their district first-round game against Exeter on Thursday, Ranck didn't want his Wildcats to overlook the Lions.
It didn't look like that would be an issue after Dallastown, playing in its home gym in the second game of a doubleheader, rolled over Red Lion in Game 1. But the Lions rebounded in Game 2 to even the match, setting Ranck's team on alert.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, they answered the call. Dallastown rebounded to down Red Lion, 25-12, 24-26, 25-22, 25-20.
In the other first-round contest, Susquehannock cruised past York Suburban, 25-20, 27-25, 25-18. The Warriors will face No. 1 seed Northeastern at 6 p.m. at the high school gym at Dallastown Tuesday in one semifinal, while the Panthers and Wildcats will battle at the same time in the middle school gym in the other semifinal. The semifinal winners will then face off in the title game at approximately 7:30 p.m. at Dallastown High School.
Dallastown got off to a booming start vs. Red Lion in Game 1. The Wildcats won four of the first five points before increasing the lead to 20-9 late. They then stormed ahead 10-5 in Game 2. But the Lions, who failed to make the District 3-AAA field, played like a team on a mission. They evened the match up at 19-all and traded points back and forth with Dallastown before pulling out a 27-25 victory.
"Our issue all year has kind of been to pull through in Game 2," Ranck said. "Game 2 is when the intensity drops and you might make a mistake and we're just looking for that guy on the court that wants to put the ball away."
"That guy," however, was nowhere to be found during the key parts of Game 2. The Lions had a part in that by digging out balls with their defense.
"They were absolutely scrappy," Ranck said of the Lions.
Momentum for a young Lions squad wasn't enough to get them over the hump. The Wildcats showed the poise that experience can bring. Led by the trio of Chadd Jones (17 kills), Jared Barrett (15 kills) and Aaron Ward (13 kills), the Wildcats were able to bounce back.
"I was glad to see how they rebounded in Game 3 and Game 4," Ranck said.
The Lions, who feature a group of mostly sophomores and juniors, were led by Cole Brillhart and Dillon Hildebrand, who finished with 10 kills apiece. Setter John Longnecker dished out 32 assists for Red Lion, while Dallastown setter Peyton Ranck tallied 48 assists.
Warriors sweep by Trojans: In a battle of the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds, Susquehannock was able to sweep past Suburban for the second time this year.
The Warriors, however, did have to survive a Game 2 scare. Suburban led for much of the game before Susky rallied late.
"York Suburban is a great program and they've had our number for years," Warriors coach Tim Bonitz said. "But it's really nice for us, at this time of the season, to really take care of business."
Taking care of business will be a much greater task Tuesday when Bonitz and company prepare to take on the two-time defending PIAA Class AA state champs.
"We have to use a 'next point' mentality," said Bonitz, who noted his program won its first league playoff game in 10 years. "(Northeastern) has some of the best players in the state across the net, and we have good players too, but we have that next-ball mentality. You can't get down (mentally) against a team like that because a team like Northeastern finds any cracks, they'll just turn it up wide open."
A.J. Schaeffer led Susquehannock with 12 kills while Brian Sheddy chipped in 10 more. Setter Stephen Rouse dished out 32 assists, while Quinlan Kauffman paced the defense with 19 digs.
Liam Ridings and Sepehr Vakili each tallied eight kills each for the Trojans, while setter Kaleb Ansell finished with 27 assists.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.