EMIGSVILLE — A season after winning its first York-Adams Division I title since 1985, Central York girls' volleyball coach Nate Ocasio wasn't overly worried about having to replace a number of outstanding hitters, as well as his setter, in 2015.
It's easy to see why after his team played host to South Western in a divisional clash Thursday night at Central. Setter Emma Saxton looked comfortable pacing the Panthers' offense, which had a couple new faces putting away balls.
Oh yeah, it helps to have Division I-bound senior middle hitter Emily Poole on the court, as well.
Despite a valiant effort from a scrappy Mustang squad, Central York was able to leave its gym with a 25-14, 25-23, 27-25 triumph.
"You can expect (a close match) when you play South Western," Ocasio said after his team improved to 2-0 in the division. "It's always hard to play South Western. They're very scrappy."
Ocasio's squad cruised in Game 1 after falling behind early. Strong service runs by Kamryn Stambaugh, Ashley Gallagher and Hannah Rishel spurred the home team to an 18-10 advantage.
Coincidentally, those three also proved to be some of the new faces who the Panthers are breaking into their starting lineup this season. Stambaugh actually led Central with six kills on the night, while Gallagher added four.
The fact that Poole finished with just two kills only further demonstrates the variety of options that Saxton felt comfortable choosing to get the ball to on the attack.
"With any pass I can just trust my hitters to just kill it," Saxton said. "And that's good, because the other side doesn't know who to block because it's pretty much anybody that can put it away."
Filling in for Julia Terpak, who was a second-team all-star in the York-Adams League a season ago, Saxton felt some pressure heading into the season. But Ocasio and his assistant coaches helped alleviate some of that.
"(We) have a good coaching staff," said Saxton, who dished out 16 assists. "They kind of took the pressure off by making sure that I got many reps (in practice) to feel comfortable."
After coasting to a relatively easy victory in Game 1, the Mustangs made the Panthers work for things in the following two games. South Western staked a 17-9 advantage in Game 2 behind a service game that gave the home team some trouble. Seniors Tori Sager and Hannah McMaster tallied a couple aces during the Mustangs' run that broke up an 8-7 contest.
"That's to be expected sometimes in volleyball," Ocasio said. "Give credit to South Western. They did a good job of picking spots and not just serving right at us."
The defending division champs recovered just in time to avoid disaster. Gallagher and Saxton served their side back into the game with long runs. Saxton's run actually helped her team tie up the score at 21-21 before Stambaugh finished off a 3-0 run with an ace.
It was a similar script in Game 3. The visitors appeared to be in prime position to force a fourth game. Trailing 22-15, the Panthers stormed back late, and staved off a pair of a game points, before Stambaugh closed out the match at the service line with an ace and a big kill from Gallagher to finish it off.
"I think we just have to bring more energy throughout the games," Saxton said of her team's lulls. "We sort of lost energy in the middle, but in the end we kind of just bring it."
Rishel led the Panthers with 12 digs, while Stambaugh and Laura Fahs combined for seven aces. Sager led the Mustangs with seven kills, while Summer Small and Bonna Sheehan each added six.
OTHER GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL
Northeastern 3, Eastern 2: At Wrightsville, Abby Braswell led the Bobcats to a 18-25, 26-24, 25-13, 17-25, 15-11 victory with nine kills, eight digs, five aces and three assists. Also for the Bobcats, Alivia Crerand had 24 assists, three kills and three aces, Whitney Brown had nine kills and five digs and Deja Lee had six kills, 10 digs and four aces. For the Golden Knights, Brooke LaCesa had eight kills and five blocks, while Madison Anslow had 10 kills, 12 digs and six blocks and Kierstin Grove had eight kills and 10 digs. Eastern won the JV match, 25-22, 26-24.
Red Lion 3, New Oxford 1: At New Oxford, Logan Dontell led the Lions to the 20-25, 25-13, 25-10 triumph with 14 kills, seven digs and four aces. Also for the Lions, Lindsey Blevins had 12 kills, 12 digs and three assists, Rachel Groff had 36 assists and nine digs and Lauren Enfield had 11 digs and six kills. For the Colonials, Wren Berry had 16 assists, while Madi Smith had eight kills. New Oxford won the JV match, 25-7, 25-14.
Spring Grove 3, Dallastown 0: At Dallastown, the Rockets won, 25-19, 25-18, 25-20. Josie Attig led the visitors with 17 assists and 12 digs, while Morgan Bair had eight kills. Also for the Rockets, Autumn Leese had five kills and five digs and Lexi Yingling had nine digs and three aces. For the Wildcats, Toni Cappas had 11 kills, four aces and four digs, while Emma Mason had 26 assists, three aces and three digs and Kat Forry had 18 digs. Dallastown won the JV match, 25-12, 8-25, 15-7.
Gettysburg 3, West York 2: At Gettysburg, Jess Sandoe led the Warriors to the 25-15, 19-25, 25-19, 15-25, 18-16 victory with 28 digs and eight kills. For the Bulldogs, Marisa Krinock had 16 kills, five blocks and three digs, Amanda Sides had 15 digs and five kills, Tailyn Kite had 10 kills and Julia Rill had 12 digs and seven kills. Gettysburg won the JV match, 25-20, 25-21.
Hanover 3, York Tech 0: At Spry, the Hawkettes won the divisional match, 25-7, 25-8, 25-20. Alexa Merrel led the visitors with nine aces and seven kills, while Saranda Gerlach had 11 digs and five kills. For the Spartans, Kirstyn Evans had five kills, while Judy Barton had three kills. Hanover won the JV match, 25-7, 25-23.
Delone Catholic 3, York Catholic 0: At McSherrystown, Kate Laughman led the Squirettes to the 25-11, 25-9, 25-13 win with 18 assists, six aces and five digs. Teammate Amber Johnson had five kills. For the Irish, Maddie Kepner had 15 digs, while Izzy Williams and Rachel Shelley each had four kills. Delone won the JV match, 25-8, 25-23.
Bermudian Springs 3, Littlestown 0: At York Springs, the Eagles won, 25-18, 25-17, 25-16. Gabrielle Emeigh led the Eagles with 14 kills, seven aces and five digs. Littlestown won the JV match, 27-25, 25-19.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.