RED LION — It’s never a good thing when a team loses one of its biggest standouts early in a contest.
That's exactly the predicament that the Dallastown boys’ volleyball squad found itself in after Jake Bixler was forced out of action after suffering a lower-leg injury against rival Red Lion in a pivotal York-Adams League battle.
The 6-foot, 6-inch Bixler is part of a formidable one-two front line that includes teammate and fellow big man Ben Ward, who is listed at 6-5.
While lesser teams may have self-destructed in that situation, the Wildcats rolled on as if nothing happened. Wyatt Myers and Jacob Horning picked up much of the slack in Bixler’s absence, combining for 15 kills. Throw in a big night from Ward, who finished with 13 kills, and Dallastown was able to cruise to an impressive 25-17, 25-14, 25-17 sweep of the Lions.
The Wildcats improved to 8-5 overall and 7-2 in the league, while Red Lion dropped to 5-6 and 5-4.
“We just stuck with the fundamentals,” Dallastown setter Mason Figdore said. “We just forced them to make some mistakes. And we just continued to play our game and that worked out well for us.”
Without Bixler, Figdore had no trouble changing up his sets across a re-vamped front line. Ward, who is also a standout tight end on the football team, was able to put away many points with his booming kills on the outside. The lefty Myers presented the Lions with trouble from the opposite side, while Horning put away balls in the middle.
“It hurt to not have (Bixler), but we came together as a team,” said Figdore, who dished out 32 assists. “But I was still able to feed the big guy (Ward).”
Wildcat head coach Tom Beakler gave a lot of credit to Figdore for keeping things going smoothly after Bixler went down early in Set 1.
“Mason is just the glue on this team right now,” Beakler said. “Mason is 100 percent all the time. He gives you all that he’s got and you can always count on him.”
Beakler also liked what he saw out of Dylan Lawson, who took over Bixler’s spot in the rotation. The junior hasn’t found too many minutes playing behind Ward and Bixler, but Beakler was impressed.
“Dylan did a good job,” Beakler said of Lawson, who finished with two kills and two blocks. “So we just let him in there.”
As for Bixler, the Dallastown coach didn’t sound overly concerned about the injury being anything long term.
“They taped him up and I thought we might be able to put him back in there,” Beakler said. “But that’s fine because Dylan was doing a good job.”
The triumph was a big boost for the Wildcats’ aspirations to make the District 3 Class 3-A bracket later this month. Only 14 teams qualify and Dallastown entered the week rated No. 14 in the power rankings.
“We made states last year,” Figdore said. “And we’re looking to try to fulfill that goal again this year. We’ll see.”
Central York 3, Dover 0: At Central York, the Panthers won, 25-16, 25-12, 25-12. Cole Johnson led the Panthers with 10 kills, six digs and five aces. Also for Central, Braden Richard had nine kills and seven digs, Aaron Czulada had four kills, three digs and three aces and Doug Rebbin had five kills. For the Eagles, Zach Noll had 17 assists and seven digs, while Dakota Dehoff had five kills and Devin Crone had three kills and three digs. Central won the JV match, 25-16, 16-25, 15-13.
West York 3, Eastern York 0: At West York, the Bulldogs rolled, 25-18, 25-13, 25-22. The Bulldogs were led by Ian Watson (nine kills), Adam Hersey (23 assists) and Shaun Lucas (12 digs). Eastern's leaders were Dalton Leik (eight kills) and Avery Rhine (14 assists). West York won the JV match, 2-1.
Kennard-Dale 3, New Oxford 2: At Fawn Grove, the Rams won, 25-22, 25-16, 25-13, 30-28, 16-14. James Lippiard (13 kills, nine digs), Noah McConville (24 kills, 12 digs) and John Enders (20 digs, 37 assists) led K-D. New Oxford won the JV match, 2-1.
Northeastern 3, Spring Grove 0: At Spring Grove, the Bobcats won 25-16, 25-13, 25-8, to improve to 8-0 in York-Adams League action.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.