MILLERSVILLE — York Suburban boys' volleyball coach Jamie Evans can see an added sense of urgency in his players.
If there was any one downfall to the Trojans this season, it was their penchant to start matches slow. If the District 3-AA Tournament has energized Suburban to quicker starts, then Evans won't question it. He's just glad it's there.
Wednesday, the Trojans gave Daniel Boone little chance to work itself into their District 3-AA semifinal match at Penn Manor High School, routing the Blazers, 25-11, 25-17, 25-14, to advance to Friday night's title match against York-Adams rival Northeastern, which routed Lancaster Mennonite in its semifinal on Wednesday, 3-0.
"I've seen Daniel Boone play and I think we just jumped out right from the start and gave them a tough time adjusting to start," Evans said. "We had the mental edge and I think that's been our nemesis, is the slow starts, and Monday we started well and we started well tonight."
It didn't take long for Suburban, which is ranked seventh in the state in Class AA by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association, to force Daniel Boone into calling its first timeout. It came just eight points into the match, with the Trojans ahead, 6-2. That timeout could not slow down Suburban, which easily won the first game behind a steady dose of punishing kills and superb defense.
The only real trouble that the Trojans faced came midway through the second game, when Daniel Boone put together a rally. The Blazers erased an 8-3 deficit early to eventually bring the game back to a 13-12 Suburban edge, prompting Evans to call his only timeout of the match. The break in the action worked. The Trojans went on to win 12 of the final 17 points of the game to win the second game with little trouble as well.
By the time the third game arrived, the match result was all but a formality. Suburban erased an early 2-0 hole by reeling off eight straight points to put itself firmly ahead in the final game. There was little fight-back from the Blazers, who eventually fell behind by as many as 12 points in the game.
Evans admitted that he didn't think the match would be as quick and easy as it turned out for his team. But, constant pressure by the Trojans on both offense and defense put Daniel Boone in tough situations, leading to free balls and numerous errors that led to every game ballooning out of hand.
"We talk about it all the time that every point is earned," Evans said. "If you're making them make a mistake, then you're earning that point. The only thing you're really given is a missed serve and they missed a lot of serves."
Sepehr Vakili led Suburban with eight kills, while Jack Schultz added seven kills and had five blocks. Gavin Dean had a match-high 14 digs for the Trojans, and Kaleb Ansell finished with 29 assists.
Next up for Suburban is a rematch with the state's top team, and three-time defending state AA champion, Northeastern. When the two met earlier in the year, the Bobcats swept the Trojans, much like every opponent they've faced this season.
Now is a chance for Suburban to reach one of its goals and do it by knocking off the top team in the state and a York-Adams rival.
"Win or lose, you go play hard and if you did your best and lose, that's all you can ask for," Evans said about the championship match. "If you knock off the three-time defending state champion, that's all the better. We want to be the best, so we have to beat the best."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com