If losses in big moments really can prove to be a motivational tool for future success, the Central York boys’ volleyball is now primed for the payoff.
Wednesday night saw the Panthers suffer a 3-1 loss (23-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-23) to top-seeded Cumberland Valley (16-0) in the District 3 Class 3-A semifinals at Red Lion High School.
The loss denied the No. 4 Panthers (14-3) the chance to defend their 3-A crown.
A somewhat unsettling trend that’s starting to emerge for the Panthers in 2018 is a tendency to jump on an opponent early, only to let them off the hook later in the match.
It was on display again Wednesday when the Panthers battled for a tough 25-23 victory in the first game, putting themselves in a familiar spot.
The Eagles, almost assuredly awoken by the opening-game defeat, poured it on over the next two sets before the Panthers sprung back to life in the fourth.
The two teams traded points throughout much of the final game before the Eagles opened up a sizable lead at 18-11. But the front-row play of Cole Johnson and Braden Richard kept the Panthers competitive. The two traded timely kills and blocks before a Johnson swat pulled the Panthers to within two at 24-22.
After making things interesting by winning the next point, Central’s ensuing serve attempt found the net and the Eagles’ celebration began.
“We just have to control our side of the net. We made a lot of errors, gave them a lot of points,” Central’s Doug Rebbin said. “They’re a good team and we can’t hand them points. We just have to work hard on controlling our side. It’s our job to take care of us.”
Johnson led the Panthers with 19 kills, five digs, a block and an ace. Rebbin added 11 kills, two digs and a block. Panthers setter Brock Anderson powered the Panthers attack with 41 assists and added eight digs defensively.
The Panthers also claimed the first game in both matches against York-Adams rival Northeastern before losing. In fact, the regular-season tilt between Central and the No. 1 team in the state in Class 2-A saw the Panthers claim the first two games before the Bobcats stormed back.
However, those hard-luck defeats certainly aren’t born out of a lack of effort. Instead, they’re more born out of that lack of control that Rebbin cited.
They’ll need to get things under control going forward.
Next for Central is Friday’s District 3 3-A third-place match against No. 3 Lower Dauphin (18-2) at 6 p.m. back at Red Lion. The Eagles will face No. 2 Hempfield on the same day at Dallastown at 7:30 p.m for the district title.
After that match, the Panthers will aim to defend another of their 3-A crowns, this one of the PIAA variety. Hopefully, the experience of the bitter defeats will finally pay their dividends.
Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.