RED LION — Peter Groncki wasn’t supposed to be the only senior on the York Suburban boys’ volleyball squad this year.
At one point, Groncki had at least a handful of classmates by his side coming up through the Trojans' program.
People and circumstances change, however, and Groncki has been left as the lone senior on an otherwise junior-dominated outfit.
Don’t think for a moment, however, that the U.S. Marine Corp recruit is feeling a little lonely as the team’s elder statesman. In fact, he seems to relish leading his squad.
Such was the case Tuesday evening when Groncki and his Suburban squad traveled to Red Lion to take on the Lions in a battle of York-Adams League playoff contenders. The heart and soul of the Trojans smashed down seven big kills to help propel his side to a 23-13, 25-17, 25-21 triumph.
Suburban improved to 6-4 overall and 5-2 in the York-Adams League to draw even with the Lions (5-4, 5-2). The Trojans and Lions are tied for third place with Dallastown behind unbeaten powers Northeastern and Central York.
“It started out with five of us,” Groncki said of the seniors who are no longer his teammates. “And they just started dropping off like flies.”
The Trojans are fortunate that the hulking Groncki, who is also a football player, decided to stick around. Sporting a huge tattoo of a lion on his upper arm, the Suburban standout played much like the animal that the artwork on his body would suggest.
“He’s definitely our spark,” Suburban coach Oliver Good said. “Whenever he does something good they all like to get excited.”
Excitement was not an issue in Sets 1 and 2 Tuesday. The visitors controlled the majority of the play. The Lions, however, built up a five-point lead in Set 3 before Good’s team rebounded in time to complete the sweep.
“If we’re playing down and not having fun, as we like to call it, it’s not good,” Groncki said. “Volleyball is all about having fun and if we’re not having a good time and having fun, we’re not going to be playing well.”
As the emotional leader of his brigade, Groncki is fully aware of when he needs to send a message to his teammates. Even the senior standout, however, is aware that he's sometimes part of the problem.
“If I’m not having fun, you can see it in my other teammates,” he said. “If I’m down they come down. But when we’re going and cheering after every point, it just carries us and we play better.”
Groncki helped spark the comeback in Set 3 with a booming kill that got his teammates on the court and on the bench amped up. Sure enough, a few moments later, the Trojans were right back even with their opponent.
“This was a good match for us,” Good said. “We just have to learn how to play more consistently, which is kind of our downfall right now.”
Noah Chojnacki dished out 32 assists in the victory while Nate Bowman led the offense with a game-high 12 kills for the Trojans.
Northeastern 3, Dover 0: At Northeastern, the Bobcats won, 25-11, 25-15, 25-19. Zach Sanderson led the Bobcats with 10 kills. Also for Northeastern, Cole Brillhart had six kills and four aces, Austin Richards had 28 assists and three digs and Trip Williams had five kills and three aces. The Bobcats improved to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the York-Adams League. For the Eagles, Zach Noll had 17 assists and four blocks, while Dakota Dehoff had seven kills and three blocks and Alex Irvin had four kills. Northeastern won the JV match 25-10, 25-22.
Central York 3, Susquehanock 0: At Glen Rock, the Panthers won the match, 25-7, 25-15, 25-15, to improve to 6-0 in York-Adams League play. Braden Richard led the Panthers with five aces, six digs and three kills. Also for Central, Doug Rebbin had six kills and three blocks, Brock Anderson had 21 assists, six digs and three kills and Aaron Czulada had six kills. Central won the JV match, 25-23, 18-25, 16-14.
New Oxford 3, Spring Grove 0: At Spring Grove, the Colonials rolled 25-17, 25-18, 25-23. Matt Faust's 22 assists paced New Oxford. Spring Grove was led by Aaron Gunarich (four kills, four digs, 11 assists), Aaron Mummert (13 kills, nine digs) and Caleb Becker (11 digs, 26 assists). The Colonials won the JV match, 25-16, 25-21.
Kennard-Dale 3, West York 2: At West York, Noah McConville’s match-high 16 kills and 14 digs helped the Rams rally and escape with a 16-25, 25-16, 20-25, 25-19, 15-13 victory. John Enders added 42 assists to the triumphant effort. Ian Watson had 13 kills and Adam Hersey had 37 assists for West York.
Dallastown 3, Eastern York 0: At Dallastown, the Wildcats triumphed, 25-10, 25-17, 25-19. The Wildcats improved to 5-2 in York-Adams League action. Dallastown also won the JV match, 2-1.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.