West York girls' volleyball beats York Suburban to clinch share of division title

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch
West York’s Faith Walker scores on an assist from MJ Rupp during girls’ volleyball action at West York Area High School  in West Manchester Township, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. West York would win the match 3-0. The assist would be Rupp’s 2000th. Dawn J. Sagert/The York Dispatch

WEST YORK — This week was bound to be a big one for many girls’ volleyball teams in the York-Adams League, with the county tournament set for this weekend and district playoffs around the corner. For West York, this week was also pivotal in the hunt for a first Division II title since 2019.

Just three days before the league playoffs begin (Friday) and a week before the District 3 Class 3A draw, the Bulldogs were entirely focused Tuesday on evening the score with rival York Suburban. The Trojans, who entered the night with a pristine 10-0 mark in league play, escaped a five-set match with West York in late September. The Bulldogs had several chances in that meeting, but were foiled time and time again.

On Tuesday, the Bulldogs once again jumped ahead in the contest. Unlike the last time, however, the West York girls flipped the script, rallying late in Sets 3 and 4 to earn a satisfying 25-20, 22-25, 26-24, 26-24 victory.

The triumph secures at least a share of the D-II title for the Bulldogs, who improved to 14-4 overall and finished league play with an 11-1 mark. Suburban dropped to 12-3 and 10-1 with one league contest left Thursday against Northeastern; the Trojans will join West York atop the standings with a win.

“No matter what, we wanted to win,” West York junior Faith Walker said. “There was no doubt about it.”

Walker played a big part in Tuesday’s victory, finishing with a team-high 19 kills while racking up seven aces. An all-state honoree in Class 5A for girls' basketball last year, Walker is starting to turn heads with her play on the volleyball court. The crazy thing is, her coach sees more area for growth on the horizon.

“She’s not even at her peak yet,” West York coach Barb Fretz said. “We’re still talking about little things and mechanics so that she can continue to grow and make those improvements. Right now you think she should get the ball every time, but we’re still going, ‘What about this and that.'”

Walker was far from a one-girl wrecking crew Tuesday. She had plenty of help, as teammates Ireland Cotton and Leah Bazzle combined for 25 kills on the night.

Fretz gave credit to senior setter MJ Rupp for avoiding the temptation to load up on Walker with every set.

“She’s been really good about not forcing the issue,” Fretz said of Rupp. “We have other (hitters) that are able to get the job done. Leah had only two errors on 31 swings tonight. And to (spread the ball) around to other hitters … you can’t ask anything more than that.”

The York Suburban duo of Makenna Stockton and Colbie McKenna each tallied 14 kills apiece, while Eleah Steiner finished with 10. Setter Avia Duerr dished out 42 assists, while McKenna led the defense with 13 digs.

The Trojans had their fair share of chances to turn the match around. After rolling to a nice win in Set 2, York Suburban held the edge for much of Set 3, jumping out to a seemingly comfortable 15-11 lead before West York used an 8-2 run to regain command. Suburban rallied back to within 23-22 and held a couple of set points before the Bulldogs finally closed the door, a feat Rupp and Walker were looking to achieve after failing to do so several times in the previous clash.

“We didn’t shut down,” said Rupp, who dished out 42 assists. “We kept the energy up and we played for ourselves. We kind of just had to push through it as a team.”

“Even after the set that we lost we didn’t give up,” Walker added. “We just said we had to keep pushing.”

The Bulldogs again found themselves trailing throughout much of Set 4 as it looked like the Trojans were going to push the contest to the limit. But West York responded late to earn a first match point at 24-23. York Suburban stemmed that tide, but given a second chance with a 25-24 lead, it was Walker who sealed the deal with a booming kill that set off a Bulldog celebration on the court.

“This feels like I just won the Super Bowl,” Rupp said with a smile.

“It’s amazing!” Walker added.

The week, however, is young for the Bulldogs. Tuesday’s victory secured West York the No. 1 seed from Division II in the Friday’s quarterfinals. The team will draw the No. 3 seed from Division I, where Spring Grove sits in third place behind Central York and Dallastown. York Suburban will play the D-I second seed, which will likely be the loser of Thursday's Panthers-Wildcats match.