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RED LION — A lot of things will eventually become settled as the York-Adams League boys’ volleyball season unfolds.

While it is clear that everyone is chasing three-time defending Class AA state champion Northeastern, the field knocking on the door to dethrone the Bobcats is less clear.

Some clarity was brought to light Tuesday evening when contenders Red Lion and York Suburban squared off in an early-season showdown. The Lions began the year ranked No. 5 in Class AAA while the Trojans moved up to No. 3 in the AA rankings this past week.

Whether each side played near its capabilities is a bit in question. The outcome, however, was inarguable. Red Lion rallied after dropping Game 2 to knock off Suburban in four games, 27-25, 18-25, 25-22, 25-10, to take a big step forward.

The Lions improved to 4-0 on the season and 3-0 in the league, while Suburban fell to 2-1 overall and in the league.

“Articles everywhere about them (the Trojans),” said Red Lion senior Dillon Hildebrand. “So we were the underdog, for sure, but we didn’t play like it.”

The Lions dropped their first game of the year when the visitors claimed an impressive 25-18 triumph in Game 2. But with the match all square after two games, Hildebrand and company played like a contender by taking Game 3 with some gritty play.

“In Game 2, we just lost it,” he said. “You could see some people’s heads hang. We couldn’t get anything going. We had a lot of unforced errors in that game. But when we play with energy and keep our errors to a minimum, that’s when we play our best. And that’s what happened there in Game 3.”

Hildebrand and sophomore Cole Brillhart dominated in the final two games. The pair of Red Lion outside hitters finished with a combined 41 kills.

The most impressive part of the home team’s performance was in Game 4 when the Lions dominated from the start. An early 8-1 lead set the tone, leaving the Suburban players in a big funk.

The victory provides a Lion team that dropped from the AAA state rankings a huge boost as it prepares for a difficult part of the schedule. Matches against Central York (Thursday), Cumberland Valley, Central Dauphin, Northeastern and rival Dallastown all lie ahead over the next two weeks, giving Coach Rick Tarbert’s team a chance to find out just how good it is.

“We really haven’t played a lot of good competition yet,” Tarbert said. “We played some pretty easy matches that we won 3-0, 3-0, 3-0. At the Northeastern tournament (two weekends ago) we got to the quarterfinals and then kind of fell flat.”

John Longnecker and Levi Davis dished out 42 assists for the Lions, while Josh Donaldson led an impressive Red Lion block with 11.

While the Lions played extremely well, the Trojans admittedly did not. Coming off an upset of Central York last week, Coach Jamie Evans was visibly disappointed with his team’s lack of intensity in Game 4.

“We had people give up,” Evans said. “And we need people that want to play every point. Hats off to Red Lion. They were solid and consistent and they dealt with the momentum shifts better than we did.”

The road definitely doesn’t get any easier come Thursday for Evans and company. After a non-league clash with Palmyra on Wednesday, the Trojans will square off against Northeastern on the road Thursday.

Evans’ post-game message to his team was clear — one win over a very good team on one night doesn’t mean anything, especially in the York-Adams League, in which five teams (Northeastern, Red Lion, Dallastown, York Suburban and Central York) could potentially make the PIAA tournament.

“You can’t let down at any point in matches like these,” he said. “Or this will happen. And we had some people that just gave up.”

Sepehr Vakili led the Trojans with 10 kills, while setter Kaleb Ansell dished out 17 assists.

OTHER BOYS' VOLLEYBALL

Northeastern 3, New Oxford 0: At New Oxford, the unbeaten Bobcats swept the Colonials, 25-16, 25-13, 25-16. Senior Reese Devilbiss converted 10 of 19 kill attempts, while Matt Schaeffer passed for 35 assists. New Oxford got 10 digs from Gabe DiMisa.

Central York 3, Susquehannock 0: At Glen Rock, the Panthers rolled 25-11, 25-16, 25-12. Hayden Wagner finshed the match with 11 kills and Carter Luckenbaugh passed for 28 assists for Central. Susquehannock got seven digs from Nate Trego and six kills from Quinlan Kauffman.

Dallastown 3, Eastern York 0: At Dallastown, the Wildcats easily got past the Golden Knights, 25-14, 25-22, 25-9. Nathan Darr had a huge night for Dallastown, completing 11 kills and coming up with 10 digs, while Drew Scott and Aaron Ward each had nine kills. Eastern’s Elijah Lowe had five kills and Greg Houck had eight assists.

Kennard-Dale 3, West York 0: At Fawn Grove, Kyle Wooldridge had 11 kills and four blocks and Josiah McConville handed out 17 assists to go along with seven kills for the Rams. Sam Lovelace had six digs and three kills for West York, while teammate Adam Hersey had nine digs and a block.

Spring Grove 3, Dover 0: At Spring Grove, the Rockets won 25-21, 25-23, 27-25 behind big nights from Luke Hoffnagle (11 kills, nine digs), Dakota Parker (seven digs, seven kills), Noah Wilson (10 digs, five kills), Aaron Mummert (12 kills), Aaron Miller (16 assists, seven digs) and Mason Staub (15 assists, 15 digs). Dover's stat leaders were Koleman Hoffman (10 digs, 16 kills), Najah Fink (eight kills), Zach Noll (27 assists), J.T. Crossan (11 digs), Hunter Shank (eight digs, six kills) and Dalton Boll (seven digs). Dover won the JV match, 13-25, 25-12, 17-15.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.

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