DALLASTOWN — The Dallastown girls’ volleyball team has had trouble remaining confident this season.
For a team with skill, size and grit, the lack of confidence was somewhat bewildering for the players and coaches alike.
It was only a week ago that coach Shannon Werner’s club "laid an egg," as Werner put it, on Senior Night against Spring Grove.
Fast forward to this week, and the Dallastown squad that was swept by the Rockets on its home floor was nowhere to be found. Instead, a group of confident and resilient Wildcats capped off a memorable run through the York-Adams League playoffs.
On the heels of upset wins over two state-ranked foes in Division II champ West York and Division II runner-up York Suburban, Werner’s team was poised to capture its first Y-A title in 11 years when its squared off against Division I champ Central York on Wednesday night.
Despite an ugly start, which allowed the Panthers to roll to an easy triumph in Set 1, the Wildcats rebounded by taking three of the final four sets to earn a thrilling 8-25, 25-23, 25-19, 16-25, 15-12 victory.
“We didn’t think that we would have the best season,” said Dallastown junior Sydney Ohl, who led the Wildcats with 10 kills, in addition to 23 digs. “But it ended up turning out way better than we expected.”
Terrific week: It was a terrific week of play, that included wins over the defending PIAA Class 3-A state champion Bulldogs, a top-10 state-ranked 3-A team in Suburban and the top-seeded team in the District 3 Class 4-A power ratings (Central York).
It certainly brought a smile to the face of Werner.
“They did not give up,” said Werner, who won four Y-A titles as a player at Dallastown in addition to her second as the team’s head coach. “They just go out there and get the job done.”
Staying on an even keel: Doing so after dropping Set 1 in such an ugly fashion only highlights Werner’s point. The ability to remain on an even keel was definitely to the club’s benefit Wednesday.
“(Set 1) was like a metaphor for our entire season,” Ohl said. “We hit some bumps early in the season, but (this week) we’ve been able to figure out how to band together as a team and come on.”
While the Wildcats never got too high or too low, the Panthers were a team that did the opposite. The Central girls were very excited after taking both Set 1 and 4, but couldn’t find a way to keep that energy and momentum in the ensuing set.
Werner noted that difference, especially late in Set 4, during her final timeout.
“I just said that even if we don’t win (Set 4), we still need to play well,” Werner said. “And that’s to get momentum into the fifth set, which is only to 15, so we needed to score some points right away.”
The Wildcats did that, but the Panthers were able to even it up several times in the final set. A five-point run broke a 9-9 deadlock in Set 5, setting up the Wildcats to serve off the triumph.
The CY girls rallied back with a three-point run, but the final serve of the night sailed wide right of the court, setting off a huge celebration on the court for the Dallastown girls.
While winning the league title was a nice prize for the Wildcats, their level of play over the past three nights earned them something even greater — confidence.
“It’s really, really high,” Ohl said with a smile.
Stats: Kanann Gemmill and Ellie Stump each tallied nine kills apiece, while Lexy Bloss added eight more for the Wildcats. Setter Izzy Ream dished out 31 assists while libero Abby Herbert tallied 31 digs and four aces in the victory.
Sydnie Johnson led the Panthers with 13 kills, while Jenna Arganbright tallied 12 for CY. Alexa Shorts served a team-high three aces to go with nine kills and 17 digs, while setters Aubrey Rentzel and Abbey Stiffler combined to dish out 47 assists.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.