Central York boys' volleyball sweeps York Catholic, jumbling league standings

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

It’s been a relatively smooth ride for York-Adams League boys’ volleyball newbie — and co-leader — York Catholic so far. Despite being a first-year member, the Fighting Irish entered Tuesday having yet to taste defeat in one of the premier volleyball conferences in the state.

To remain there, however, the York Catholic boys knew they would have their collective hands full with perennial Y-A contender Central York. And in the first-ever showdown between the programs, the Panthers proved why they expect to be contenders for the league, District 3 and PIAA Class 3A titles next month.

Using their exceptional blend of size and skill, the Central boys looked every bit the part of a team destined for a long postseason run against the upstart Irish. Led by big nights from Mason Boyer and Donovan Burris, the Panthers cruised past York Catholic with a 25-18, 25-18, 25-17 sweep.

Central York’s Donovan Burris, left, hits the ball while York Suburban’s Kevin Bryant defends during boys’ volleyball action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, March 28, 2023. York Suburban would win the match 3-0. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“We knew that this was the type of game where we had to come out and compete,” said Boyer, who finished with a team-best 13 kills. “I think we handled things great at the net, getting blocks and everything.”

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Without a ton of size, the Irish rely on speed and quickness at the net to get past blocks for kills on most nights. Against the Panthers, though, those areas were congested and contested with nearly every swing.

The York Catholic defense also faced a stern test, as the Central boys varied their swings and attacks to keep the Irish on their toes.

“I think this was good for us as team,” York Catholic coach Phil Autrey said. “And I think the guys enjoyed the challenge and it's these type of games against the bigger schools that will get us prepared. We will know what we have to work on because we’ve seen it now instead of getting to the postseason and wondering, ‘Wait, what we do we do against a guy that’s 6-5?’

“I was happy, regardless of the scores, of how we adjusted to things like getting better touches on our blocks and moving around and seeing where their hitters were going to hit from, because Central was running a pretty good offense.”

York Catholic vs. York Suburban during boys’ volleyball action at York Catholic Middle & High School in York City, Tuesday, April 11, 2023. Dawn J. Sagert photo

After a brilliant showing early at the Koller Classic on Saturday, the Panthers entered the night with a bit of chip on their shoulder after falling to rival Northeastern in the final. Unfortunately for Autrey and his crew, the Irish were on the receiving end of a high-performance, high-intensity thrashing.

“I think that we’ve kind of found our strengths and are using them in our games,” Boyer said.

Panthers co-coach Landon Shorts agreed.

“I think it was a great team performance tonight,” Shorts said. “This was a big win for us. I know that they beat Suburban (who beat Central in the season-opener) and that they were undefeated (in the league) and that this was a big game for us moving forward.”

Central York vs. York Suburban during boys’ volleyball action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, March 28, 2023. York Suburban would win the match 3-0. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Tuesday’s outcome further jumbled up what was already a cluster of contending teams atop the York-Adams standings. Northeastern now holds sole possession of first place with a 5-0 mark. York Catholic (6-1), Central York (4-1), Dallastown (5-1) and Red Lion (5-1) are just ahead of Suburban (6-2).

“We knew that it was going to be very hard for anyone to go undefeated in the league,” Autrey said. “Northeastern is the only one left, and they still have to play (most of the top teams) still. Losing in the league is just the nature of the beast, which is good because I’d rather have a schedule like this — where we should still make districts and be prepared — than be undefeated and not really tested.”

Burris tallied four blocks to go along with 10 kills in the victory for Central, while setter Lance Shaffer dished out 29 assists to go along with 10 digs in the triumph.

Luke Forjan finished with 14 kills to lead the Irish, while twin brother John finished with 28 assists and a team-best eight digs in the setback.