DALLASTOWN — York Catholic’s move up from Class 1-A to Class 2-A was one of the more interesting aspects when the PIAA decided to go from three to four classes for girls' volleyball.
One of the bigger 1-A schools, the Irish were able to claim the district title a season ago with a relatively young lineup.
Most of those same girls returned this year, which is always a good thing in terms of team building. The bump up to 2-A, however, was met with lower expectations from a number of coaches and fans.
York Catholic coach Phillip Autrey, however, wasn’t buying it.
His team proved him right on Thursday night with a 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 25-11 triumph over Trinity in a district semifinal match. That avenged an earlier loss this season to the Shamrocks.
“I think when everyone saw that we moved up they just assumed that we were good for single A,” Autrey said. “And I think that this (win) helps the girls believe that everything that they felt all year long was true. It wasn’t like, ‘oh, now that we’re double A we’ll just be average again.' This program is coming to a point where we can go and take on bigger tournaments and played the quad A schools and compete. We feel like we belong in this.”
Abby Pilke had a big night for the Irish in the triumph. The junior tallied a team-best 14 kills. Sophomore Bella Kepner finished with eight kills to go with a team-high four aces.
The Irish will now have to repeat their mini-revenge tour against parochial rivals Saturday to get back to states. Autrey’s club will take on Delone Catholic, which swept Lancaster Mennonite in the other semifinal (25-20, 25-21, 25-22), at 3 p.m. at Dallastown.
Delone swept the Irish in both of their previous meetings this season. Only the 2-A champ will advance to the state playoffs.
“They’re very good,” Autrey said the Division III champion Squires. “They always have a very deep bench and whenever a medal is on the line, they’ll be ready.”
West York falls: Consistency is certainly one of the toughest things for even the best of high school coaches to extract from a team on a daily basis.
Most teams have peaks and valleys.
For West York girls’ volleyball coach Joe Ramp, his highly talented club had a number of peaks and valleys Thursday evening in the District 3 Class 3-A semifinal against Palmyra.
Unfortunately for the Bulldog coach, the valleys outnumbered the peaks.
After rallying back from a 2-1 deficit to force a pivotal Game 5, the York-Adams Division II champs appeared primed for a thrilling come-from-behind triumph. But, instead, they hit a rough spot during their weakest rotation.
The Cougars, who were swept by Ramp’s club in a match back in September, mounted a comeback after trailing 6-4. While the Bulldogs made a late run, it wasn’t enough. Palmyra cashed its ticket to the final after a 26-24, 23-25, 25-19, 14-25, 15-12 victory.
The Cougars will face Berks Catholic in the final Saturday at 7 p.m. at Central York High School. The Saints advanced after downing York Suburban, 3-1, in the other semifinal.
The Trojans and Bulldogs will square off at 5 p.m. Saturday in a consolation match at Central York.
Defeating a good team twice is difficult, something that both Trinity and West York can now attest to.
“That was absolutely a different team,” Ramp said of Palmyra. “And I forewarned them about that. When we played them at Red Lion, I said, ‘that’s not the same Palmyra that is going to be coming into this place.'”
The Cougars improved in many facets of play since their previous meeting. Their serving, defense and attack were all markedly better than that first contest.
Conversely, West York’s serve-receive, perhaps the squad’s biggest issue all night, was up and down. Palmyra was able to generate runs of points with effective serves that prevented the Bulldogs frontline from attacking the same way they’ve grown accustomed to all season long.
“Our serve-receive, all season, has been pretty on-point,” Ramp said. “But tonight there was a lack of focus on that.”
Ramp was also unhappy with his team’s block, which he dubbed as sub-par.
“We just could not block all night,” he said. “And that’s why we had such difficulties tonight.”
Marisa Krinock was potent when she was in position to do damage. The senior finished with 19 kills and three blocks. Freshman Teshia Thomas tallied 10 kills to go with three blocks.
Setter Abbey James dished out 45 assists to go with 14 digs, while libero Trilby Kite led the ‘Dogs with 18 digs.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.