HEMPFIELD — Postseason success in any sport requires a certain amount of resiliency.
For Red Lion girls’ volleyball coach Heather Schoemaker, that word defines her squad this season.
Her top-seeded Lions were two points away from a sweep of No. 9 Exeter Township and the program’s first appearance in the District 3 Class 4-A championship match before seeing the Eagles storm back to force a fifth game.
However, Red Lion was able to right the ship in time for a 26-24, 25-15, 23-25, 11-25, 15-9 victory.
Leading 23-21 in Game 3, the Lions could only watch as Exeter rattled off the final four points to stave off elimination. The Eagles quickly turned that momentum into a lopsided victory in Game 4.
“We’ve talked about this since day one at practice,” Schoemaker said. “You’re going to be thrown a lot of problems and how are you going to face that adversity. And through that they showed a lot of resiliency. That fourth set was kind of wish-washy and we kind of fell down on ourselves a little, but they brought it together in the end.”
The fifth game was a see-saw affair, with six ties and five lead changes before the Lions went on a 6-1 run to close the match.
Red Lion needed an early wake-up call. They quickly found themselves in a 5-1 hole to open the evening. From there, the Lions would continue to chip away slowly at the Eagles’ lead before a Lindsey Blevins tip knotted the opener at 23-23.
A Blevins kill on the next play gave Red Lion its first lead of Game 1 at 24-23.
Blevins finished with a team-high 20 kills and had her fingerprints all over the first-game victory with solid front-row play.
Senior outside hitter Lauren Enfield added 15 kills of her own, and was the main culprit behind the Lions’ second-game win.
Blevins also led a team defensive effort that saw five different Lions post at least 10 digs. Blevins’ 19 paced that group. Enfield finished with 13 of her own.
Next up for the Lions is Saturday’s district championship match against Hempfield, a 3-2 winner over Warwick. The title match is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Dallastown.
In a season that has seen the York-Adams champions pushed to the limit a number of times, Schoemaker feels confident a now seasoned and experienced team knows what it takes.
“Everyone has fully grown into what they need to do,” Schoemaker said. “They truly are all unique and they all bring something to this team that they don’t realize. They’re all a huge asset and the end result is they deserve it for their hard work and effort.”
Red Lion sewed up a PIAA state berth with the win.
Berks Catholic 3, York Suburban 1: A series of slow starts stalled the Trojans’ chances at reaching the District 3 Class 3-A championship match Thursday at Hempfield.
Unable to dig themselves out of a number of earlier deficits, the Trojans fell 20-25, 15-25, 25-20, 25-27 to Berks Catholic in a district semifinal.
The Trojans began to adjust in the third game, one that saw them exchange leads with the Saints six times before ultimately grabbing it for good at 17-16 and not looking back.
Leading the way for Suburban was senior outside hitter Miranda Kauffman, who recorded a match-high 20 kills, to go along with a dig and a block.
“We made some adjustments on our side to make sure we were covering defensively for ourselves,” Suburban coach Sonia Guyer said. “I’m always proud of the girls, but it’s hard when you dig a hole for yourselves like that. But they’re the type of team that when their backs are against the wall they always see it through.”
One of the adjustments the Trojans needed to make was finding a way to slow down the Saints formidable front-row duo of Caitlin Crespo and Michaela Dungan. Dungan led Berks Catholic with 15 kills and Crespo added 13, many of those coming the first two games.
Suburban trailed 9-1 early in the first game and 11-3 in the second before solid stretches that saw the Trojans compete fiercely with the Saints.
Ali Reinecker finished with 15 kills and 21 digs for the Trojans. Teammate Georgia DuMars added 41 assists, five digs, three kills and two aces.
With a PIAA berth already locked up, the Trojans can now focus on Saturday’s district third-place match against York-Adams rival West York. The match is set for 5 p.m. Saturday at Central York.
Reach Elijah Armold at email@example.com.