Spring Grove earns a little payback to claim the District 3 3-A girls' volleyball crown
MECHANICSBURG – It was just more than 10 days ago when the Spring Grove girls’ volleyball team suffered a heart-wrenching defeat in the York-Adams League title match opposite York Suburban.
Ranked No. 1 in the state at the time by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association, the Rockets saw their dreams of an unbeaten season end at the hands of a Suburban squad that seemed to have their number.
It was, after all, the Trojans who ended Spring Grove’s season in last year’s District 3 Class 3-A semifinals.
The sour memories of those setbacks served as fuel to the collective fire of the Rockets on Saturday, when they focused on exacting some revenge vs. Suburban in the District 3 3-A final at Cumberland Valley High School.
Playing with that extra fire, the Spring Grove girls made sure they wouldn’t take a backseat to the defending district champs. Fueled by the power of the Wolfe twins – Hailey and Neveah – the Division I champs flipped the tables by earning a very satisfying 25-19, 19-25, 25-21, 25-14 victory.
Saturday’s triumph marked the seventh District 3 title for the Spring Grove program, but the first since 1994.
“We never gave up,” said Hailey Wolfe, who finished with a team-best 25 kills in the triumph. “The game is never over. You just have to stick it out and sometimes you’ll surprise yourself.”
How it happened: The Rockets (24-1) led for much of Set 1, rolling out to a 10-point lead on several occasions. Division II champion Suburban (23-1), however, rebounded to close the gap to finish Set 1 before continuing that momentum into Set 2 to even the contest.
Tied after the first two sets was exactly the same position that both teams were in back in the Y-A final, but it was the Trojans who rallied after dropping Set 2 on that day to take the next two sets and claim the league crown.
Hailey Wolfe excels: History did sort of repeat itself Saturday, but only in reverse. The Rockets rallied back from an early hole in Set 3, powered by a strong effort by Hailey Wolfe. Nearly every time the Spring Grove senior touched the ball in that set, it earned her team a point.
“I was feeling hot,” she said with a big smile. “I felt like we had a leg up on York Suburban.”
The Rockets wisely stuck with the hot hand, setting the ball to Wolfe in the backrow on numerous occasions to earn key points.
“She was just super excited to be here,” Spring Grove coach Liz Zeigler said of the gym at Cumberland Valley.
Being at CV was exactly the goal the Rockets had set out to achieve ever since starting the season by winning CV’s opening-week tournament. It’s also the site of the PIAA finals in two weeks.
“The first one (in the CV tournament) was good, but this one is fresh,” Hailey Wolfe said. “It’s nice and I’m happy.”
Keeping Rodgers under control: While Hailey Wolfe was nearly unstoppable all night, the Rockets were able to take control by limiting the chances and kills for Suburban standout Eliana Rodgers. The Sacred Heart recruit has been a dominating force all season, including a 22-kill effort in the league final.
Rodgers, however, was held to half of that total (11) in Saturday’s rematch.
“We’ve been practicing our defense all week,” Hailey Wolfe said. “We had coach (Sammy) Strausbaugh hitting at us really hard. Eliana always swings hard and we just got used to getting those digs and it just came a lot easier.”
There were tears in the eyes of all of the Suburban players afterwards. A season after claiming the school’s third district title, the previously unbeaten Trojans fully expected to defend their title Saturday.
A third clash is possible: The good news for the Suburban girls is that a third clash with the Rockets is still on the table. If both teams win their first two PIAA matches, they will battle for a berth in the state title match on Tuesday, Nov. 16.
The Rockets will begin the PIAA draw with a home match against the No. 3 seed from District 12 (Archbishop Wood) at 6 p.m. Tuesday, while Suburban will travel to District 12 champion Cardinal O'Hara at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
If successful, both teams will likely face tough obstacles in the quarterfinals next Saturday. Spring Grove could see the District 1 champ (Pope John Paul II, ranked No. 4 in the state), while the Trojans would likely face the District 11 champ (Bethlehem Catholic, ranked No. 6 in the state).
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