VOLLEYBALL

York Catholic girls' volleyball tops Trinity for District 3 championship

The Fighting Irish are district champions for the first time since 2015.

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

Things weren’t looking too good for the York Catholic girls’ volleyball team through the first set and a half of its District 3 Class 2A title contest with Trinity.

The Shamrocks, winners of the past three district crowns, were playing aggressive, quick and consistent volleyball. Something had to happen for the Irish to turn things around.

Fortunately, it did.

Trailing midway through Set 2, the York Catholic girls picked up their play, clawing back to within a point and forcing the Shamrocks to use their first timeout of the evening. The brief stoppage, however, could not halt the momentum. Moments later, a long rally was ended by a kill from Ashley Patterson that gave the Irish the lead.

The pendulum clearly swung in York Catholic's favor from that point on. The Irish pulled even with an ace from Beitris Boyreau-Millar to take Set 2 and never looked back. The hosts dominated in Sets 3 and 4 to claim the program’s first District 3 title since 2015 with a 14-25, 25-22, 25-16, 25-19 triumph.

York Catholic celebrating their win over Trinity in the PIAA District 3 Class 2A girls volleyball final in York on Nov. 3, 2022.

“Oh my gosh,” York Catholic setter Reese Beck said. “After that first set (a 25-14 drubbing by Trinity), we really wanted to get that next set so badly.”

The past two district title clashes saw the Shamrocks (19-3) cruise past the Irish each time. Set 1 gave off a vibe of deja-vu from those previous battles, but Beck and her teammates were not about to let that happen.

“Trinity has crushed us the past couple of years,” Beck said. “We wanted this revenge. We needed to go out there and get this win for our team.”

The Irish (20-2) showed everyone why they entered the night as the top seed in the district draw as well as the No. 2 ranked Class 2A team in the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association poll. Hitting and service errors were kept to a minimum.

The defense also played terrific as the Shamrocks grew more and more frustrated with the Irish digging up a slew of attacks. Boyreau-Millar led the way with 23 digs and Beck tallied 15 more as the Irish prevented the ball from hitting the court time and time again.

York Catholic's Beitris Boyreau-Millar (23) against Trinity in the PIAA District 3 Class 2A girls volleyball final in York on Nov. 3, 2022.

During a four-point run in Set 2 that turned the momentum in York Catholic's favor, Beck could literally feel the shift.

“That was unreal,” Beck said. “Everyone, even our bench and our student section, was cheering so loud. We all, and not just us players, wanted it so badly. We were in the zone and when you’re in the zone we just crushed every single ball.”

The duo of Adeline Phillips and Avery Heist led the Irish attack, with each registering several big kills to fuel York Catholic runs throughout the final three sets. Phillips finished with 16 kills, while Heist recorded 11.

While those two were the most noticeable with booming kills, the Irish attack was aided by its diversity. Patterson tallied seven kills, Mary McNamara added six and Paige O’Brien registered five.

As the fans and players on the Irish side could sense the inevitability of victory, the cheers and chants from a boisterous student section helped fuel YC’s final run. A kill from Patterson finished things off as the Irish celebrated on their court in utter joy.

“This means a lot to this team,” York Catholic coach Phil Autrey said. “These girls have played together since junior high and we’ve come so close a number of times. I don’t want to say that we got over the hurdle, because we’ve won some fantastic silver medals over that time, but the pressure of being the only classification (in District 3) where only the winner gets to go to states, that’s been the hard part to swallow.”

Autrey and his crew won’t have to worry about that anymore. The past two years, the Irish finished runner-up in the district draw despite being widely recognized as one of the best teams in the state. This time, the Shamrocks are the ones feeling left out. Entering the night as the No. 5 team in 2A, Trinity will not get a chance to play for a state title.

Autrey knows that feeling all too well, as his program hasn’t been in the PIAA bracket since last winning the 1A title back in 2015. The beginning of state play next week will certainly be a new look for the Irish, but Autrey likes his squad’s chances.

“I think we play our first state game at home,” Autrey said. “And I think that everything is winnable moving forward as long as we compete.”

York Catholic will host the District 12 runner-up at 7 p.m. Tuesday.