VOLLEYBALL

York Suburban girls' volleyball takes down West York in District 3 quarterfinals

The Trojans turned the tide with a third-set comeback and won the match in four sets.

Thomas Kendziora
York Dispatch

As the York Suburban girls’ volleyball team battled back to life, the Trojans’ home crowd roared along with them.

The hosts trailed York-Adams League rival West York, 24-17, in the tiebreaking third set of the teams’ District 3 Class 3A quarterfinal match. Even after clawing back from a 19-9 deficit, York Suburban’s back was still against the wall. But the Trojans staved off one set point after another, the roars growing louder with each tick on the scoreboard.

Nine points later, Suburban was celebrating a 26-24 third-set victory and the home gym was in a frenzy. The Trojans kept their foot on the gas in the fourth set and slammed the door on a 25-18, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19 victory over the Bulldogs.

“I always always say that these teams, when their backs are against the wall, I would not put my money against them,” York Suburban head coach Sonia Guyer said. “And they definitely proved that again tonight.”

York Suburban girls' volleyball celebrates its third-set victory over West York in the District 3 Class 3A quarterfinals on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. The Trojans scored nine straight points to win the set, 26-24, and won the match in four sets.

Makenna Stockton led the Trojans with 16 kills and added 12 digs in the winning effort. Eleah Steiner notched 13 kills, while junior Colbie McKenna chipped in 10 kills and 12 digs. Aiva Duerr dished out 40 assists and Anna Titter tallied 17 digs.

The teams had split their two regular-season meetings, each prevailing at home, and both ran the tables against the rest of York-Adams Division II to split the title. York Suburban earned the No. 3 seed in the district bracket and West York came in at No. 6, but both sides knew a potential rubber match would be decided by slim margins.

“It’s a match where we walk in, whether it's our gym or their gym, and you just don't know what's gonna happen,” Bulldogs head coach Barbara Fretz said. “My assistant coach said it best — ‘if I had to bet my life on it right now, I don't know who I would bet it on.’ It’s been so back and forth, who’s gonna get the lucky breaks or who’s gonna put the pieces together that day.”

The Trojans (15-4) scored the first four points of the match and led for all of the opening set. After West York trimmed the margin to 18-14, Suburban won six of seven points to pull ahead 24-15. Steiner sealed the deal with a kill on the fourth set point.

In the second set, it was the Bulldogs (16-5) jumping out to an early 6-2 advantage. Suburban rallied to level the score at 13-13, only for West York to immediately answer with a 7-1 run. The Trojans battled back again, clawing to within two points, but Faith Walker delivered the final two kills as the visitors evened the match.

West York came out like gangbusters in the third set, leading 9-3 as its tightly-packed visiting supporter section became the loudest fans in the building. The Trojans battled to within 12-9 but then lost seven straight points, leaving loss a virtual certainty. But a veteran York Suburban team found an extra gear when it needed one most.

“We talked in one of the last huddles that you have to demand perfection when the other team’s at 24, and you’ve got to go out and demand it from yourself and demand it from your teammates, and then you’ve got to execute it,” Guyer said. “And they did.”

Spring Grove vs. York Suburban during PIAA District III, Class 3-A girls' volleyball championship action at Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Spring Grove would win the title game 3-1. Dawn J. Sagert photo

It was a Sisyphean turn of events for West York, which had a 2-1 match lead in its pocket but instead had to start over at 0-0 and win twice. The Bulldogs certainly didn’t roll over, but they were never in control again. York Suburban held leads of 10-5 and 16-11, and the Trojans responded multiple times after West York pulled within two. The hosts ultimately took the final three points for a 25-19 clinching victory.

“To go down 1-2 (like that), it is hard to regroup,” Fretz said. “And kudos to the girls — they came out and they fought early in set four. They just let the gap get too wide and couldn't come back.”

West York, which earned a piece of the D-II title for the first time since 2019 and the first time in Fretz’s tenure, will look different next year without seniors like MJ Rupp, Elysa Myers and Ireland Cotton. As heartbreaking as the end of a season can be, though, Fretz will remember these last two months fondly.

“Their personality and their attitudes in a positive manner every day in the gym, it makes you want to come coach while all these other things are happening,” Fretz said of her veteran group. “So it's definitely going to be a little bit different in the gym next year, but (we hope to) keep building.”

York Suburban will visit No. 2-seed Twin Valley on Tuesday, and the Trojans are guaranteed to be playing next Thursday as well, either for a district championship or one of three spots at states. They’ve made it this far by coming back to beat Fleetwood in five sets and overcoming their county rivals.

Guyer’s group won this tournament in 2020 and fell to Spring Grove in the finals last season, so the underclassmen on those teams are no strangers to the big moments. And another long playoff run will have just the same long-lasting impact.

“We talk a lot about building legacy,” Guyer said. “When we lost right away to Dallastown last Friday, we had a fairly long talk after that loss about how it's important that we extend our playoffs as long as possible … because once you're exposed to it, now all of a sudden it's not novel and scary. You can kind of hit the ground running with it. 

“The teams that have come before our seniors, they have been able to push deep into the postseason, and that does nothing but help them when you have that experience.”