VOLLEYBALL

York Catholic girls' volleyball sweeps Bermudian Springs, returns to district final

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

The York Catholic girls’ volleyball team has been highly motivated all season long.

Sensing a golden opportunity to capture a coveted District 3 Class 2A title, the Irish have been both confident and focused throughout the 2022 campaign. With just one match left standing between them and a berth in the district finals, the York Catholic girls brought their A-game to Tuesday’s semifinal clash with York-Adams League Division III rival Bermudian Springs.

Using a business-like approach that has earned the Irish 18 victories so far this season, York Catholic was able to fend off a serious challenge by the visiting Eagles. Big nights from attackers Adeline Phillips and Avery Heist, who tallied 12 kills apiece, were the catalyst behind York Catholic’s 25-18, 25-15, 25-18 home triumph.

York Catholic's Avery Heist (9) celebrating the winning point with teammates against Bermudian Springs after their girls volleyball game in York on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.

Tuesday’s victory earned the Irish, the top seed in the draw, a 19-1 record and the honor of hosting the District 3 Class 2A title contest Thursday at 7 p.m. against three-time defending champ Trinity (19-2).

“Bermudian is a really good team,” York Catholic senior Mary McNamara said. “They’re really scrappy and we had to be prepared for everything that they put over. They came out and played their best. We got up at times and they got up at times and I think we both played about the best that we could.”

The Eagles attempted to combine a tough approach from the service line with a pesky defense that they hoped would throw off the Irish attack. While it was effective at times, the senior-laden Irish core proved adept at staying consistent, especially with its pass.

“We wanted to come in here and play a defensive game,” Eagles coach Mike Beachy said. “We wanted to stay disciplined and also serve tough. I felt we might have an advantage if we could serve tough, but unfortunately they were able to pass really well.”

Irish passes often found the mark to setters Beitris Boyreau-Millar and Reese Beck — who combined for 37 assists on the night — allowing the YC attack to stay in system. The Irish were able to generate a slew of small runs of three or four points that eventually helped them pull away from Bermudian.

York Catholic's Reese Beck (2) and Avery Heist (9) against Bermudian Springs during their girls volleyball game in York on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022.

Now the York Catholic girls can set their sights on the Shamrocks, a team that has ended their season in each of the past two years.

The first of those defeats occurred in the district final during the pandemic-affected 2020 season. That year, the Irish, who were slight favorites to win the title, were forced to go with a sophomore lineup due to a COVID situation that kept seven key players from participating.

Last year, the Irish once again made it to the final only to be dropped one win shy of earning the school’s first District 3 title since 2015 (which was won in Class 1A).

As the top seed, the Irish will host Thursday’s final for the first time against Trinity, an advantage the players hope to make the most of.

“The COVID year was probably one of our best chances to beat them,” McNamara said. “But hopefully, Thursday is going to be our best chance.”

York Catholic coach Phil Autrey, who led the team to the 2015 title, is anxious for his program to end a drought in which the school has dropped its last five District 3 Class 2A title appearances (three vs. Delone and two vs. Trinity).

Autrey, however, doesn’t believe the experiences of the past will factor in at all into Thursday’s contest.

“It doesn’t matter,” Autrey said. “Different teams, different games. The only one that was here for those (five losses) was me. But we do have a number of girls that have been in these situations before.”

The advantage of playing at home also figures to be of great benefit, much like it was in Tuesday’s victory. The York Catholic student section was loud and supportive all night, something that McNamara and her teammates appreciated.

“The fans really helped us,” McNamara said. “Our energy really stayed up and they kept us up. And if we got down, they got (us) up.”

Ella Means led the Eagles (11-7) with five kills and two aces, while Lucy Peters, Laney Cook and Molly Kuntz all finished with two ills apiece. Setter Madelyn Wagner dished out 19 assists and Kuntz led the Eagle defense with four blocks.