York Suburban drops 5-set decision to No. 1 seed in District 3 2-A boys' volleyball final

ROB ROSE
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York Suburban's Alex Probert returns a Lower Dauphin serve in the District 3 Class 2-A boys' volleyball championship at Lower Dauphin Friday, May 28, 2021. Suburban fell in the five-game match. Bill Kalina photo

Oliver Good knew his team would be in for a challenge as soon as his players walked in the gym.

York Suburban entered Lower Dauphin High School looking to knock off the No. 1 seed in the District 3 Class 2-A field and claim the title.

What Good didn’t exactly anticipate was the atmosphere of the contest, which featured a nearly full gym and fans screaming from start to finish for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic canceled or postponed seasons, limited crowds and forced fans to find livestream links.

“We knew both teams coming in were pretty equally matched and District 3 is traditionally the most competitive district in the state, so we were anticipating a dogfight,” Good said of the district 2-A title match. “Either way, we knew that neither team was really going to run away, one way or the other. So, we were expecting a fight, but the environment, it felt good. The environment was fun to be a part of, and really, it felt normal. It was a refreshing feel, versus everything that we've kind of been through.”

York Suburban's Brady Stump hits a slam past Lower Dauphin's Craig Patrick Jr. and Luke Gibbs, right, in the District 3 Class 2-A boys' volleyball championship at Lower Dauphin Friday, May 28, 2021. Suburban fell in the five-game match. Bill Kalina photo

The third-seeded Trojans started the match strong, with a win in the opening game, but eventually lost a close contest, 3-2, after the Falcons took the fifth set. The five sets were scored 25-19 York Suburban, 27-25 Lower Dauphin, 25-22 Lower Dauphin, 25-23 York Suburban and 18-16 Lower Dauphin.

The key to the Trojans’ attack all match was junior Brady Stump. In the first set, Stump spiked the ball past the Falcons (18-2) and added a pair of aces to clinch the win.

“We really emphasize team volleyball, playing as a team and everybody doing their role and I felt like we did that really well in set one,” Good said. “Brady had some nice swings, but I thought that we really spread the ball around to all our hitters in sets one, four and even five, we got other people going as well, and that's what we're going to need to do if we're going to be successful — really play as a team and have each other's backs. When we do, we're pretty good. When we kind of start to question each other is when we kind of waver a little bit.”

York Suburban's Lucas Strickland hits a slam against Lower Dauphin in the District 3 Class 2-A boys' volleyball championship at Lower Dauphin Friday, May 28, 2021. Suburban fell in the five-game match. Bill Kalina photo

After the first set, Lower Dauphin devised a plan to slow down Stump and it worked. The Falcons started to block some of his attempts, which got the team and crowd excited.

Good said the struggles to score came more from what Suburban (15-3) wasn’t doing than what Lower Dauphin was.

“I think that's that idea of team volleyball, where we did not do that in sets two and three and they were kind of able to run away with it a little bit,” Good said. “It stressed us out and we started to make more and more errors after that, unfortunately.”

Seniors Aidan Hughley, Lucas Strickland, Trevor Culbertson and Alex Probert made several key plays to close out the fourth set and force the match to a fifth set. After Suburban saw its early six-point fourth-set lead disappear and was two points from losing, Hughley and Strickland put them ahead to win the set.

After the teams traded the lead in the fifth set, it took Lower Dauphin three tries at match point to finally clinch the win and the District 3 crown and the win.

Despite the loss, Good was impressed by the toughness his team showed to compete through a contest that looked lost at times. He added that there will be lessons to learn.

Now, both teams head into the state playoffs next week, where the Trojans will aim for a better result.

“We haven't always been a team that clawed ourselves back into matches, so I appreciate their commitment to each other, to fight, enjoy the environment and really give this match their all,” Good said.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.