EMIGSVILLE — If there's one sport in which the York-Adams League truly has an edge on its Mid-Penn Conference rivals, it's boys’ volleyball.
Monday evening allowed the Y-A League to demonstrate that, with both Central York and Dallastown facing Mid-Penn foes in the District 3 Class 3-A quarterfinals at Central York High School.
Dallastown, the only team to defeat Lower Dauphin during the regular season, again got the best of the Falcons. The No. 6 seed rallied back from an early deficit in Game 1 to edge No. 3 Lower Dauphin. The Wildcats never let up en route to a sweep of the Falcons, 27-25, 25-18, 25-20, in the first game at Central.
The host Panthers followed suit, but it was anything but a smooth ride. The No. 7 seeded Eagles had a chance to take a 1-0 lead in the match, but Central standout Cole Johnson smashed down several kills to help the home team prevail. CV didn’t let up after that, cruising to victory in Game 2.
Johnson and his teammates, however, were not about to fall on their home court. The Panthers regrouped in Game 3 and never looked back, claiming a 26-24, 18-25, 25-18, 25-19 triumph.
Dallastown (15-3) and Central York (13-0) will square off in one semifinal Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. at Red Lion.
“We were frazzled a little bit in the first two sets,” Central York setter Carter Luckenbaugh said. “We just needed to settle in and find our game. And I think in that third set is when we finally did that.”
CV (12-4) wouldn’t go away in Game 1 despite some big kills from Johnson, who led the team with 25 on the night. The Eagles had a chance to go up in the match after an errant set eluded the towering Johnson from the back row.
After calling a timeout, the Panthers regrouped and fed arguably the Y-A League’s most dominant attacker. Johnson recorded kills on the final three points to lift his team to the victory.
“When I make an error like that, I kind of get (upset) with myself,” Johnson said. “I just wanted to make it up to the team.”
The Eagles did their best to contain the Central junior the rest of the night. But with multiple blockers shadowing Johnson, that left open space for sophomore Braden Richard to operate. Richard nearly matched Johnson with 23 kills, many coming against one or fewer blockers.
“That’s even better (than a kill),” Johnson said. “You know when they say that an assist is better than point. And that’s especially the case whenever they get a big kill like that.”
Luckenbaugh dished out a game-high 54 assists in the victory, while libero Zak Kakos came up with a team-high 21 digs for Central, who remains the No. 1 team in the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Assocation rankings in Class 3-A.
Wildcats get Central next: While Dallastown wasn’t pushed as hard as Central, Monday’s triumph against a foe such as Lower Dauphin (16-2) gave the Wildcats hope that they could make a run at the Panthers Wednesday.
At least that's what Dallastown coach Tom Beakler is hoping is the case.
“We know that we will see a very good team (Wednesday),” Beakler said about the Panthers. “We know it. But this is districts and anything can happen. We’ll be ready to play.”
After back-to-back years in which the Wildcats failed to even qualify for the district playoffs, this season has marked quite a turnaround for the program. Beakler, who won two state titles while coaching Northeastern back in the 1990s, set the expectation for success early on with his team. And they have lived up to it.
“You always expect that,” he said. “If you don’t give your kids that expectation, that’s a problem. They were ready for this.”
Nathan Darr led Dallastown, ranked No. 8 in the state rankings, with 14 kills and four aces, while setter Peyton Ranck dished out 36 assists. Libero Cade Fry finished with 15 digs to pace the Wildcat defense.
York Suburban 3, Lancaster Mennonite 2: At Manheim Central, the fifth-seeded Trojans won the District 3 Class 2-A quarterfinal match in thrilling fashion, 17-25, 25-22, 17-25, 25-20, 15-11 over the No. 4 seed. Jack Schultz led the Trojans with 22 kills and seven blocks. Also for Suburban, Nick Bowman had 31 digs and four assists, David Knife had 11 digs, three kills and four blocks and Declan Ridings had seven digs and five kills. Suburban moves on to the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Dallastown against No. 1 seed Manheim Central, which swept No. 9 seed Palmyra on Monday.
Northeastern 3, Spring Grove 0: At Manchester, the Bobcats won the District 3 Class 2-A quarterfinal, 25-17, 25-21, 25-20. Jacob Cheuvront led the Bobcats with 36 assists. Also for the Bobcats, Wyatt Hughes had eight kills, while Dakoda Hoffman had four kills. For the Rockets, Mason Staub had 14 kills, while teammate Luke Hoffnagle had 13 assists and three kills. No. 2 seed Northeastern moves on to Wednesday's semifinals vs. No. 3 seed Cocalico, which swept No. 6 seed Berks Catholic on Monday. No. 7 seed Spring Grove's season is over. Wednesday's Northeastern-Cocalico match is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Dallastown.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.