It's pretty clear that most of the students attending West York girls’ volleyball matches this season do so in anticipation of seeing sophomore Tesia Thomas slam down some monstrous kills.
As they say, offense sells tickets.
There's a second part to that saying however: defense wins championships.
The Bulldogs certainly take the second part of that saying to heart. In fact, the Bulldogs rarely practice their attack on off nights in the gym. Instead they focus on defense.
All of the time and hard work that coach Joe Ramp has put into his squad on that aspect of the game is certainly paying dividends. That was never more evident than on Thursday, Sept. 21, when West York hosted York Suburban in a pivotal York-Adams League Division II clash.
The 'Dogs showcased a brilliant defense that made it very difficult for the visiting Trojans to put balls away with any regularity. Trilby Kite, who also dished out 32 assists, tallied 15 digs to lead the way as the Bulldogs earned a 25-19, 25-12, 25-21 triumph in a battle of previous division unbeatens.
“We’ve been practicing and practicing on that,” Ramp said. “Defense and passing. We did that for all of our practice yesterday (Wednesday, Sept. 20). We really don’t practice our offense because, honestly, defense is going to win games for us around here.”
Despite being perhaps the most noticeable part of her team’s defense, Kite was impressed by the job that the whole team did in keeping balls alive throughout the night.
“That was probably the best defense we’ve played all year,” she said. “We were just everywhere.”
All of the focus on the defense didn’t leave the West York faithful feeling unsatisfied. Thomas, who is in just her second year of playing volleyball, led the Bulldog attack with 11 kills, including several rocket shots. Gianna Krinock add 10 more, while Kite and Kate Tate, the two seniors on the squad, each finished with seven.
“Everywhere we go during warm-ups (our fans) just go ‘oh, my gosh!’” Kite said of Thomas’ attacks. “They’re always into it whenever Tesia hits the ball.”
The crowds for West York games have picked up noticeably over the past year. The Bulldogs made an impressive run all the way into the PIAA Class 3-A semifinals last year before falling to eventual champion Allentown Central Catholic. While most of the standouts from that team graduated, this season’s squad has had few letdowns. Thursday’s triumph improved West York’s record to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in Division II.
Much of the credit for the Bulldogs’ success so far can be attributed to both Kite and Tate. Both players have taken on key roles on the court — Kite as a setter and Tate as an outside attacker — as well as off the court as role models for the squad.
For Kite, her role as a leader is one that she relishes as much as anything else.
“I knew that I had to fill a big role and be a leader for my team,” Kite said. “Being the setter, I get to run the offense. I get to choose who to set. And if some of my hitters are having an off night, I have to just keep being encouraging and help to pick them up.”
The home team raced out to early leads in all three sets, including a 19-10 lead in Set 1. That seemed to set the tone for the night as the Trojans continually played a game of catch-up to no avail. The visitors, however, were able to stave off four match points in Set 3 before Kiersten Bowser finished it off with a kill for the Bulldogs.
Ali Reinecker and Nat Saxton led the Trojans (7-1 overall, 5-1 Division II) with seven kills apiece, while setter Lauren Guyer tallied 22 assists for Suburban in the setback.
Susquehannock 3, York High 0: At Glen Rock, the Warriors rolled, 25-11, 25-7, 25-16. Amber Bortner (14 digs), Leah Wilkinson (seven kills), Jaden Walker (seven kills), Emily Sweitzer (12 assists) and Maddie Geiple (12 assists) led Susquehannock. For York, Jae Fitch had four kills and two aces.
Gettysburg 3, Eastern York 2: At Gettysburg, after falling behind 2-1, the Warriors rallied and captured the final two games of their 25-19, 21-25, 19-25, 25-23, 15-13 victory. Sammi Faloon was a force for Gettysburg, posting 22 kills, 18 digs, an ace and a block. Brooke LaCesa recoreded 17 kills, six digs and two blocks for Eastern. Teammate Katie Lehman dished out 37 assists and added five digs.
Dallastown 3, South Western 2: At South Western, the Wildcats emerged victorious from a tight 28-26, 18-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-13 road battle. Gabby Ream ran the Wildcat offense, posting 45 assists to go along with 13 digs, two kills and two aces. Tatiana Matuszewski was the main beneficiary of those assists, slamming home 18 kills. She also had seven digs, six blocks and two assists of her own. The Mustangs got 10 kills each from Ali St. Rose and Emma Filipovits.
Dover 3, Spring Grove 2: At Dover, after dropping the first two games, Chayce Hoffman’s match-high 24 kills helped the Eagles capture a 23-25, 20-25, 25-19, 25-18, 15-12 home win. Hoffman also had 12 digs and a block. Teammate Abby Diehl had 48 assists, eight kills, four digs, a block and an ace for Dover. The Rockets got 25 assists, 10 kills, two digs and two aces from Kaylyn Zeigler. Spring Grove’s Airika McCaskill added 15 kills and two blocks.
Central York 3, Red Lion 0: At Central York, the Panthers won the match, 25-12, 25-15, 29-27. Emily Wilt led the Panthers with 17 kills, nine digs and three aces. Also for Central, Linnea Prudell had 34 assists, six digs and four aces, Marley Anderson had 18 digs and three aces and MacKenna Caruso had 15 digs and five kills. For the Lions, Maddie Grim had eight digs and 12 assists, while Jenna Enfield had 15 digs and Katie Thompson had eight digs. Central won the JV match, 2-1.
York Catholic 3, Lancaster Catholic 1: At Lancaster, in a match from Wednesday, the Irish rallied for a 29-31, 25-23, 25-16, 25-21 win. Emily Hoffman (12 digs, eight assists, five kills, three blocks), Abby Pilkey (eight kills), Bella Kepner (nine kills, five digs), McKenna Walker (22 digs) and Madeline Walker (18 assists, four blocks) paced the winners. York Catholic won the JV match, 2-0.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.