DALLASTOWN — Coming off a roller-coaster night of volleyball action on Tuesday, there was a bit of uncertainty for Red Lion as it prepared to square off against Lower Dauphin in a District 3-AAA first-round contest Thursday evening at Dallastown High School.
Would having only one night of rest after the York-Adams League playoff finals against Northeastern have an effect?
The answer? Not really.
While it wasn’t their best performance by any stretch, the Lions proved they are one of the better teams in the district. The Falcons gave Red Lion a good challenge, but the Lions were good enough to oust the Mid-Penn foe, 26-24, 25-23, 25-22.
Red Lion advanced to the quarterfinals Monday, when they will battle York-Adams League foe Central York. That contest is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Dallastown.
“It wasn’t our best game,” Red Lion junior Cole Brillhart said. “But we got it done. We know we still have some work to do to beat Central York, for sure.”
LD rallied back throughout the contest to make things a lot messier than the Lions would have liked. Trailing 22-19 in Game 1, the Falcons stormed back to take a 24-23 lead. Brillhart, however, got to the service line after a side-out and served out the final two points to bring his team back.
“I was still confident that even if we lost the first game that we would fight back,” said Brillhart, who finished with five kills, two blocks and seven digs.
Fortunately for Brillhart and his mates, they didn’t have to venture down that path. The Lions led by small margins throughout the final two games, but were able to punch their ticket to the quarterfinals to create a bit of history.
“Yeah, I believe this was our first district win ever,” Brillhart said, with a bit of a smile.
This was coming off the program’s first-ever foray into the York-Adams League playoff finals Tuesday. And if they beat Central on Monday, the Lions will earn their first-ever berth into the PIAA state playoffs.
Monday’s showdown, however, is somewhat bittersweet for both No. 4 seed Central York and No. 5 seed Red Lion. Arguably two of the top four best teams in District 3-AAA, one of them will see their season end prematurely come Monday. Only the top four teams in the draw advance to states.
Brillhart knows some better results earlier in the season may have prevented this fate.
“It’s unfortunate that we had a few bad losses in the beginning of the year,” he said. “And that sort of hurt us in the district (power ratings). But we can’t worry about that now. We just have to play good and see what happens.”
Red Lion coach Rick Tarbert, who is in his first season guiding the program, believes that his team has what it takes to make it to the next level. The question is, will the team that impressed during the regular season and knocked off York Suburban in the semifinals Tuesday show up on Monday.
“That’s what I told them at the huddle at the end of the game,” Tarbert said. “We have to focus and really push through on Monday. We have to clean up our errors … we made a lot of errors tonight. We can’t make those errors on Monday.”
Bennett Frey led the Lions with eight kills, while Josh Donaldson chipped in six. Setter John Longnecker finished with team-high 17 assists to go with a team-best eight digs, while Levi Davis tallied 12 assists.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.