York Catholic's season ends with District 3 2-A girls' volleyball title match loss

York Catholic's Adeline Phillips, right, hits the ball across the net while Trinity's Jena Minnick defends during PIAA District III, Class 2-A girls' volleyball championship action at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Trinity would win the title game 3-0. Dawn J. Sagert photo

MECHANICSBURG – The York Catholic girls’ volleyball team knew it had its hands full in the District 3 Class 2-A final opposite Trinity.

For much of the season, the Shamrocks have been ranked No. 1 in the state in 2-A by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association.

Even without their big middle hitter, Lauren Trumpy, who suffered a season-ending knee injury weeks ago, the defending PIAA champs cannot be discounted.

That proved to be the case Saturday afternoon at Cumberland Valley High School.

Hoping to make a quick start in the district final, the Irish were unable to gain traction and, more importantly, separation against their parochial rival from the Mid-Penn Conference. The York Catholic girls battled and battled, but came up short in the opening set.

Things didn’t improve from there. The Shamrocks were able to build on the confidence of winning Set 1 to roll to a 25-21, 25-16, 25-19 triumph to claim their third straight District 3 2-A title.

The setback was another bitter pill for York Catholic. The York-Adams League Division III champs saw their successful season come to an end with a 17-4 record. Only the District 3 champion earns a berth into the PIAA 2-A draw next week.

“We just didn’t have the same magic that we had against Spring Grove (last week in the Y-A tournament) or against Delone (Thursday in the semifinals),” York Catholic coach Phil Autrey said. “We weren’t able to get off to that quick start, but we were able to compete with them (Trinity).”

Competing is one thing. Beating the Shamrocks (18-1) is another.

For Autrey, to have a chance at the upset, his team would have needed to build early confidence by getting ahead of the Shamrocks.

“Whenever you play Trinity, you just feel like you’re always behind, even when you’re not,” Autrey said. “They just do such a good job defensively. And today, even when we got in a good attack, they got an arm on it, it goes right to the setter and they get a good attack back on it. You just have to work so hard for every point that it almost feels like it should be in Set 2 by now.”

The absence of Trumpy, a standout middle hitter, gave Autrey and his team some hope heading into the final. Autrey was a bit surprised by how well Trumpy’s backup, sophomore Samantha McAuliffe, did in filling in for the injured 6-foot-3 middle.

“She just played really well,” Autrey said. “She may not have had a ton of kills, but they mattered. They were all big points and usually momentum killers for us. And that’s a difference when you get someone who you don’t game plan for as a key attacker to get big kills and girls just kind of think ‘hey, that wasn’t supposed to happen.’ So it was just a matter of how do we adjust now.”

The adjustments weren’t easy. The Shamrocks rode their Set 1 momentum to a sweep which ended the high school careers of the seven York Catholic seniors.

Dry eyes were hard to find afterwards for the Irish, who took newly crowned District 3 3-A champ Spring Grove to five sets in an epic Y-A semifinal.

That included Autrey, who will miss the family-like feel that the program had all season.

“These seniors really helped make the program this year feel like one big team,” he said. “It didn’t feel like there was a JV team and a varsity team. It was just one program. And that is one of the things that impressed me the most this year. Everyone on the team truly wanted to be there and be together, which just makes coaching refreshing.”

Adeline Phillips led the Irish with 12 kills, while Mia Citrone finished with 15 digs. Reese Beck dished out 15 assists, Drew Kile finished with eight digs and Tennison McGraw led the team with three service aces.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com or @ydsports. Please consider subscribing to support local journalism.