READING — Sometimes in sports, you just get beat.
West York girls' volleyball coach Joe Ramp can live with that.
It's something that he and the rest of his Bulldogs team will have to live with after their PIAA Class 3-A state semifinal with Allentown Central Catholic at Exeter Township High School on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
In a classic match between two of the top-four teams in the state in 3-A, it was the Vikettes, the District 11 champions, who found a way to beat the Bulldogs in five memorable games, 23-25, 25-19, 25-19, 24-26, 15-13, to advance to Saturday's championship match.
The loss for West York ended its season for a second consecutive year to ACC in the state semifinals.
"It was neck-for-neck all the way through," Ramp said. "We started a little light, but I can't be even more happy than exactly what they did today."
Staying alive: In a match that saw both teams jostle back and forth in each game, there might not have been a more improbable run than the one the Bulldogs went on to close out the fourth game. After losing the second and third games to fall behind, 2-1 in the match, West York trailed 24-18 in Game 4, facing a number of match points.
Knowing the season was on the line, the Bulldogs continued to fight, rattling off eight unanswered points to win the game, 26-24, and force a decisive fifth game.
"In our last timeout, Joe was saying, 'If we go out now, it's a great way to end,'" senior setter Trilby Kite said. "But, I said to myself and my team, 'We're not done yet,' and I just wanted to do anything I could to get my team to that fifth set and our defense, we just picked up everything."
Classic finish: Despite the remarkable run to win the fourth game to even the match, West York still had one more game to go, needing to come off the emotional high of winning the fourth game.
Much like the prior four games, the fifth set was nip and tuck the entire way, with the largest lead being three points by the Vikettes early in the game. For much of it, the teams traded points. The Bulldogs found themselves in control late, holding a 13-12 advantage, but a 3-0 run to close out the match in ACC's favor sealed the victory and sent West York home.
"I always told them, 'If you play well, I don't care if we win or lose,'" Ramp said of his message to his team. "'If you play your best match and the other team wins, then so be it.'"
Starting fast: In last year's meeting between the two sides with the same stakes and in the same gym, the Vikettes swept the Bulldogs. Right from the start, West York was keen on not letting that be the case again.
After some sloppy hitting to open the match and falling behind, 9-4, the Bulldogs got back into the match thanks to a 12-5 run, gaining their first lead of the night and extending it out to a 16-13 cushion. ACC battled back to regain the lead, but a 6-1 run by West York to close out the game gave it an early 1-0 advantage.
"I think if we would've lost that first set, we would've been down and out a little bit," Ramp said. "I think that was a realization that we can compete with them."
ACC battles back: The momentum of winning the first game carried into the second, when the Bulldogs built a 6-1 lead to force the Vikettes to call a timeout. ACC responded by going on a monstrous 13-3 run to grab a 14-9 lead, eventually winning the second game.
The Vikettes never trailed in the third game and only a 5-1 West York run late in the game pulled it to within two points, before 6-2 ACC run to close the game put the reigning state champions ahead 2-1.
Seemingly deflated, the Vikettes were in control for nearly the entire fourth game, until they tightened up late trying to close out the match. That allowed the Bulldogs to go on their sustained run to win the game and force the pivotal final game.
Offensively for West York, Gianna Krinock led the way with 15 kills, while Tesia Thomas added 14 and Kate Tate had 11. Trilby Kite passed for 37 assists in her final match. Krinock led the team with 21 digs, while Kam Hepler came up with 20 and Tate and Kite each had 11.
The loss for the Bulldogs ends their season at 24-3 and as York-Adams League champions, District 3 3-A runners-up and state semifinalists.
"I think just how well we played together," Kite said is what she'll remember most about this season. "There were some times that we played as individuals and had off nights, but, overall, we worked hard every day at practice and we never quit."
Delone advances to PIAA title match: At State College, Delone Catholic made sure that the York-Adams League would be represented in the PIAA state girls' volleyball finals.
The District 3 champion Squirettes swept past District 6 runner-up West Shamokin, 25-19, 25-14, 25-16, in a Class 2-A semifinal.
Delone now moves on to the state title match at 1 p.m. Saturday at Richland High School in Johnstown.
The Squirettes will face District 7 runner-up Freeport, which dispatched District 7 champion Beaver on Tuesday, 25-22, 25-19, 19-25, 25-18.
Delone will enter that match ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 2-A by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association. West Shamokin had been ranked No. 8, while Freeport was ranked No. 3 and Beaver was No. 2.
The Squirettes will attempt to win their first state championship since 2013.
In the win over West Shamokin, Maddie Clabaugh hammered home a team-high 13 kills for Delone, while Autumn Altland added 10 more.
Chloe Kindig ran the offense for Delone, handing out 30 assists to go along with six digs. Altland added 16 digs and Clabaugh recorded three aces. Lauren Trummer had 32 digs.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com