There's no doubt that the West York girls’ volleyball team has taken the program to another level this season.
After two consecutive years when the Bulldogs came up just short in the medal department at both the District 3 and PIAA Class 3-A levels, the West York girls are looking to double-dip this time around.
It began with a milestone triumph in the District 3 final against Palmyra. That marked only the second-ever district title in the program’s history. The only other time the West York girls earned gold medals was way back in 1987.
Now, after another history-making victory in the PIAA semifinals against Allentown Central Catholic Tuesday evening, the Bulldogs (27-1) are one win shy of becoming the first girls’ team in school history to win a state title.
“This is a special group,” West York coach Joe Ramp said. “We’ve met all three of our goals that we went in to begin the season — winning the division, winning the county and winning the district. So, after (the Palmyra match) I said, ‘I have one more goal for you to focus on.’ And that was to get to the (state) final.”
Warren up next: Now that Ramp and his team have marked off that from their to-do list, the only thing separating them from state supremacy is undefeated and District 10 champion Warren (21-0). The two teams will square off for the state championship at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Cumberland Valley High School.
The Dragons punched their first-ever ticket to the final after downing defending 3-A state champion and previously unbeaten Knoch, 25-19, 25-22, 19-25, 25-22.
“I watched some film on them,” Ramp said. “They are scrappy. Their top player (Lydia Latimer) is athletic.”
On paper, the showdown appears to be one where the two sides mirror one another pretty closely. While Latimer is the No. 1 threat, the Dragons have four other players with at least 100 kills on their roster — Celia Chase, Ellie Lobdell, Jordan Sitler and Grace Wortman. Their setter, 5-foot, 4-inch junior Alexis Nyquist, has recorded more than 1,000 assists so far this season.
After taking down Delone Catholic in the York-Adams League championship match last month, Ramp mentioned that he would love to see another team that had four girls with at least 100 kills like his squad.
Now he’ll get that chance.
“It will be a good one hopefully,” he said.
Focus will be internal: Ramp and his team won’t go bonkers planning out too much of a scheme change for the Dragons though. Instead most of the focus will be internal.
“As long as we play the way we’re capable of … we can beat almost anybody,” Ramp said. “I’ve told them and I’ve told you (the media) before — it’s us vs. us. Are we going to play as a team and do what we need to do, or are we going to struggle and have attitudes?”
Morley key at setter: While West York's big hitters — Julia Rill, Tesia Thomas, Gianna Krinock and Alayna Harris — each have more than 100 kills and have been exceptional throughout the season, Ramp knows that his attackers are only as good as the sets they get from his setter, Taylor Morley.
Having never set before at the varsity level, Morley has more than adequately filled the role that Trilby Kite, an all-state setter last year, excelled in during her senior campaign a season ago.
“We put a lot of time and effort into improving (Taylor’s) setting skills and she’s done just a fantastic job,” Ramp said. “I think that she’s playing her best volleyball right now. And with Taylor, she’s been kind of under-the-radar. People don’t really know about her and don’t expect too many things out of her because she’s a little under-sized. But when she’s moving her feet and she has that confidence — watch out. She’s a great setter.”
Rill, who was named the York-Adams Division II Player of the Year after missing all of her junior season with an ACL injury, raved about Morley after Tuesday’s semifinal victory.
“Taylor is the core of our team,” Rill said. “We couldn’t be doing what we’ve been doing without her. She stepped up to set in just her senior year and she had giant shoes to fill. But she’s been amazing.”
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.