READING — After seeing an historic season come to an end, West York girls’ volleyball coach Joe Ramp dismissed the notion that the Bulldogs will simply try to build on its momentum next year.
Instead, the goal resets.
“A great season, best in school history that we know of,” Ramp said. “But our goal every year is go for counties, go for districts and try to get to states. And that won’t change next year.”
The Bulldogs saw their 2016 campaign come to an end Tuesday with a 25-20, 25-18, 29-27 loss to Allentown Central Catholic in the PIAA Class 3-A state semifinals at Exeter Township High School.
West York used a pair of games against York-Adams League and District 3 Class 4-A champion Red Lion earlier this season as turning points.
It's was a season that saw the program go on a run that included its first state tournament victory and a 24-5 overall record.
“We knew that we were special,” Ramp said. “ We got swept by (Red Lion) 3-0 earlier in the (regular) season. And then to turn it around and push it to Game 5 and only lose it 15-13 (in the York-Adams League Tournament semifinals), that's when these girls realized they could compete with the big teams.”
Competitive vs. No. 1 team: The Bulldogs were competitive with the District 11 champion Vikings, who came in ranked No. 1 in the state in the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class 3-A poll. The turning point Tuesday, however, came in the second set. ACC was able to dominate play early, opening up a 7-2 lead.
A timeout in an attempt to regroup proved unsuccessful for West York. The Vikings ripped off a 12-7 run that had them firmly in command at 19-9.
“Negativity on the team,” Ramp said was to blame for West York’s dip in play In Game 2. “Our passing wasn’t on point, setting was all over the place, it was just more invidious-like play.”
Slowing the net presence of the Vikings' Rachel Hess, Olivia Rudjford and Dana Roberts proved problematic.
The group amassed 28 kills. Hess had a match-high 13 kills, Rudjford had eight and Roberts added seven. Many of those kills were collected in that second game, one Roberts punctuated with a hard kill through a West York middle block.
Setter Julia Bradford dished out 32 assists for the victors.
Leading the way for the Bulldogs was Marisa Kronick with eight kills, five digs and three blocks. Abbey James dished out 25 assists to pace the West York offense and also added seven digs.
Bulldogs don't go quietly: West York wouldn’t go away quietly. The Bulldogs found themselves down 24-22 in a third set they once led at 11-9. But a kill from Julia Rill and a high-flying finish off a Vikings block attempt from Tesia Thomas pushed the game to a 24-24 tie and gave West York continued life.
A spirited series of trading points and staving off elimination came to a close when Rudjford’s was able to find a hole in the Bulldog defense.
Next year: Losing six seniors, Ramp knows that extending the Bulldogs’ run next year will be difficult. However, the coach noted the Bulldogs won’t be without experienced players to lead.
“I have four starters returning,” Ramp said. “It’s kind of a rebuild year, but I think with the core talent of those four individuals, I think we can get back to the state tourney. I think the girls will remember this season, and we're going to come back again with the motto ‘If you want it, go get it.’”
Part of that core will include the freshman Thomas. The middle hitter made her mark on the scene with her athletic play and leaping ability up front. She recorded four kills and three blocks on a night that saw her matched against a tough Vikings block.
Giving Thomas support up front will be sophomore Rill, who added seven kills and three digs to the Bulldogs’ cause.
Helping to lead the Bulldogs defensively next year will be junior Trilby Kite, who led the West York defense with 10 digs.
ACC advances to Saturday’s 3 p.m. state championship match at Richland High School in Johnstown. The Vikings will play District 5 champion Somerset, which earned a 3-2 win over District 7 champion West Allegheny in Tuesday's other semifinal.
Reach Elijah Armold at email@example.com.