Red Lion boys' volleyball hopes to last as York-Adams League title contender

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

RED LION — There are many yellow and black banners hanging from the ceiling inside the Fitzkee Athletic Center at Red Lion High School.

None of them, however, say ‘Boys' Volleyball.'

The Lions' program has typically been solid over the years, but with Central York, Northeastern and York Suburban all in the York-Adams League, the goal of earning a banner has always been just out of reach.

Perhaps this year could be the year for coach Rick Torbert and his up-and-coming squad. While the season is still very much in its early phase, the Red Lion boys improved to 3-0 on the season — and 2-0 in the Y-A League — Thursday after downing visiting Eastern York, 25-11, 25-16, 25-13.

Red Lion's Tyler Good (4) against Eastern York during their boys volleyball match in Red Lion on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

“Trust me, we've been trying,” Torbert said of the chase for a championship. “We would all love to see a banner go up there.”

For the past decade, the York-Adams League has featured one, if not two or three teams, among the state’s best. Central York and Northeastern have combined to win 10 PIAA titles since 2010, while York Suburban has finished in either the Class 2A semifinals or finals a handful of times during that period.

This year is perhaps Torbert’s best chance to lead his program to a coveted league title. It certainly won’t be easy, as the defending champion Trojans are stocked, but the Lions also return plenty of talent from a squad that pushed Suburban to five sets in the regular season and four sets in the county playoffs last season.

“I’m hoping that we can play this well against the competition coming up,” Torbert said in reference to his squad’s Thursday sweep of the Golden Knights. “We only have two seniors, who are my two middles — Matthew Miller and Gabe Williams — and I have two sophomore outsides.”

Those outsides — Tyler Good and Jacob Shaffer — combined for 12 kills in the victory over Eastern York, while Miller finished with three kills and three blocks. Torbert is high on Good, a 2022 District 3 Class 3A third-team all-star who finished with over 250 kills as a freshman, as well as Miller, who checks in at 6-foot-7.

Red Lion's Matthew Miller (28) against Eastern York during their boys volleyball match in Red Lion on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

“Matthew, when he is on, is going to be a force,” Torbert said. “He’s 6-7 and a half, so he takes up a lot of room up there (at the net). Tonight he hit underneath the ball a little, but when he hits it, he can bounce it pretty good. And (Good) … when he takes over a game, he takes over a game. He did that against Carlisle in the final two sets and we just started rolling.”

Red Lion setter Ryan Bennett tallied 27 assists and four aces for the Lions in Thursday's win. Eastern York's Aaron Hildebrand finished with three kills and 13 digs, while setter Ryan Moore tallied seven assists to go with four digs.

Red Lion will get a bit of a barometer of just how it stacks up with league brethren this weekend at the Bobcat Invitational. The Lions will be joined by host Northeastern, Central York and York Suburban as well as a handful of other talented squads around the area.

“I think we’re going to do well,” Torbert said. “It all comes down to, whenever we play against the better teams, how we respond.”

The Lions will also face a mini-gauntlet in a few weeks when they take on Suburban, Central Dauphin (the defending District 3 Class 3A champs) followed by Central York.

“Hopefully we’ll be 6-0 when we hit Suburban,” Torbert said, “and then we’ll see what we’re made of.”