DALLASTOWN — The District 3-AAA quarterfinals have been a bit of a stumbling block for the Central York girls' volleyball team in recent years.
So, too, has been playing well in Game 1.
While the Panthers couldn't solve the latter problem, they discovered a solution to the former when they battled York-Adams League rival Red Lion in the District 3-AAA quarterfinals at Dallastown High School.
Led by a defense that seemingly got digs on every kill attempt by the Lions, the York-Adams Division I champions overcame a hiccup in Game 1 to rally for a 21-25, 25-17, 25-14, 25-13 triumph.
The Panthers' win was part of a strong York-Adams League showing in District 3 action. Delone Catholic, York Suburban, Susquehannock and York Catholic also earned quarterfinal wins.
Central (17-1) will move on to the district semifinals for the first time since 2012, after quarterfinal losses in 2013 and 2014, and will battle Cumberland Valley at 6 p.m. Thursday at Dallastown. Red Lion, which finished in second behind the Panthers in the division standings, saw its season end at 14-5.
"That is something that we've been working on in practice," Panther senior Emily Poole said of her team's early match woes. "It's definitely something that we need to focus on for the next match."
Losing Game 1, however, seemed to wake up the Panthers and their defense. All of their troubles in Game 1 seemingly disappeared and Central seized the momentum.
It started with their defense, which was led by Hannah Rishel, Karah Slow and Laura Fahs. Rishel led her team with 23 digs, Slow added 10 more and Fahs tallied nine. Fahs also proved invaluable at the service line, where she led all players with 10 aces.
"We gave the game ball to (those three)," Central York coach Nate Ocasio said. "Laura has consistently been our best server and passer since she was a sophomore. And Hannah and Karah defensively are a pretty good 1-2 punch."
Poole was able to take advantage of all the chances her team generated with those digs to tally a game-high 19 kills. Allison Rife also finished in double digits with 10 kills for the Panthers.
"They had that revenge factor for them," Poole said. "They were able to beat us the first game. But we had to settle down, collect ourselves and bring our energy back up."
The digs helped fuel several big runs by the Panthers over the final three games, which allowed them to gain some needed separation. The Lions really had no good answers.
"Central is a great team," Red Lion coach Heather Schoemaker said. "And it's fun playing against a good team. And the girls wanted it. These girls kept fighting and I can't be any more proud of them."
Now the Panthers will have to get ready for a semifinal clash with a CV side that mirrors Central in many ways. They have size, depth and talent all over the court. Ocasio knows making it to Saturday's final won't be easy.
"Really it's all going to come down to who's going to execute and who's going to win the serve-pass," he said.
Lindsey Blevins led Red Lion with 14 kills to go with 16 digs, while setter Rachel Groff dished out 26 assists. Central setter Emma Saxton dished out 36 assists in the victory.
OTHER DISTRICT 3 GIRLS' VOLLEYBALL
Delone Catholic 3, West York 0: While it wasn't easy, the Delone Catholic girls' volleyball team was able to survive an upset bid by a game West York squad.
A week after rolling past the Bulldogs in the league playoffs, the Squirettes were pushed by a West York club that played with a sense of purpose.
But as well as the Bulldogs played, they would have needed to play almost perfectly to knock off the four-time York-Adams League champs. Delone punched its ticket to the District 3-AA semifinals after downing West York, 25-18, 25-17, 25-20, at Dallastown.
"The first time we played them we really didn't show up," West York coach Joe Ramp said. "We didn't really show them who we were. But this time we watched film, we studied them and we told the girls what they like to do. Tonight we made huge improvements everywhere."
West York was able to rally to take the lead a handful of times throughout the contest. But each time they did, Delone was able to quickly rebound.
Ramp is hoping his team can build upon this effort next season. He'll have almost everyone back, except for senior Amanda Sides, who finished with four kills.
"I lose only two seniors," Ramp said. "Besides that, I have a freshman and two sophomores starting. I don't know another team that is starting that young of a crowd. So we're excited for next season."
Abbey James dished out 24 assists for the Bulldogs, while middle hitter Marisa Krinock led the offense with 10 kills. Lily Singleton led the Squirettes with 12 kills, while setter Katie Laughman dished out 29 assists.
York Catholic 3, Halifax 1: At Northern York, the Irish won the District 3-A quarterfinal, 25-7, 25-14, 22-25, 25-15. Eliza Johnson led the Irish with 12 kills. Also for York Catholic, Emily Hoffman had six kills and 12 digs, McKenna Walker had 29 assists, four aces and three digs and Brooke Ricks had 11 digs and three aces. York Catholic moves to the semifinals and will face High Point Baptist at 6 p.m. Thursday at Hempfield. High Point swept Dayspring Christian on Tuesday, 25-15, 25-11, 25-21.
Susquehannock 3, Schuylkill Valley 0: At Hempfield, Laura Savin led the Warriors to the 25-19, 25-19, 25-19 District 3-AA quarterfinal victory with 16 kills, 15 digs and three aces. Also for Susquehannock, Kelly Franz had 37 assists, eight digs and three aces, Amber Bortner had 11 digs and five aces and Karah Sweitzer had 21 digs and three aces. Susquehannock advances to the semifinals and will face powerhouse Berks Catholic at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Hempfield. Berks Catholic routed Lancaster Mennonite on Tuesday, 25-9, 25-11, 25-19.
York Suburban 3, Fleetwood 0: At Hempfield, the Trojans won the District 3-AA quarterfinal, 25-21, 25-23, 25-15. Jordan Landis led the Trojans with 15 kills and 16 digs. Also for Suburban, Ciara Buckingham had six kills, six blocks and five digs, Georgia DuMars had 28 assists, three kills and three digs and Chey Buckingham had seven kills. Suburban moves on to the semifinals and will face Delone Catholic at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Dallastown.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.