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Dallastown boys' volleyball earns crucial road win over York Catholic

The Wildcats took three close sets to sweep the Fighting Irish on Tuesday night.

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

High school boys’ volleyball is so often a game of adjustments and momentum. That was certainly the case Tuesday evening as York Catholic hosted Dallastown in a pivotal York-Adams League showdown between a pair of 7-2 squads in the circuit.

Both teams proved adept at making adjustments, but the Wildcats proved to be better at shifting momentum thanks in part to coach Drew Blecher making the most of his timeouts. Whenever the Irish seemed poised to seize momentum, the Dallastown coach would signal for a break that often time stole it away the hosts.

Case in point: trailing 23-20 in Set 3, a timeout allowed the visitors to recover and reset. The York Catholic boys' momentum quickly dissipated as the Wildcats won seven of the final nine points to earn a 25-20, 25-21, 27-25 sweep.

Dallastown's Jaidyn Bethel (13) against Dover during their boys volleyball game in Dallastown on Thursday, Apr. 20, 2023.

The victory solidified Dallastown’s position on one of four York-Adams playoff berths as the Wildcats improved to 8-2, behind only 10-0 Northeastern and 9-1 Central York. York Suburban is also 8-2 in league play, with York Catholic dropping to 7-3 and into a tie for fifth place with Red Lion.

“This was a good win,” Blecher said. “A good win for the boys going into a big match with York Suburban Friday.”

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The Wildcats were able to take advantage of their size against a smaller but scrappy York Catholic side at key points during the contest. The Dallastown attack came from a multitude of directions as setter Evan Schmidt (32 assists) was able to distribute the ball around the court to his mates.

Jaiyden Bethel, who is one of the more athletic attackers in the league, finished with 15 kills and seven blocks on the night, while Adian Lee, Kirby Campbell and Gusatavo Vargas combined for another 17 kills in the victory.

“We knew they were scrappy,” Blecher said, “and we knew there defense was tough. We preached that at practice (Monday) that we had to go for every ball, because we knew they were going to make us fight for every point. They weren’t just going to let balls hit the floor. We blocked pretty well and got a bunch of balls up ourselves and I think that was a difference.”

Luke Forjan (eight kills) and Brady Walker (seven kills) paced the YC attack, while setter John Forjan dished out 21 assists in the setback.

York Catholic's Brady Walker (3) agaisnt Northeastern during their boys volleyball match in Manchester on Thursday, Apr. 27, 2023.

While the Irish failed to win a set Tuesday, they proved their scrappiness with rallies and comebacks throughout each frame. York Catholic clawed within 21-19 in Set 1 only to see the Wildcats take four of the last five points.

“We knew we had to come in here and fight hard,” said Dallastown middle Luke Fureman, who finished with two kills and two blocks. “And that’s what we did.”

Down 10-5 in Set 2, the YC boys rallied back to even the score at 21-all before a four-point run by Dallastown gave the visitors a 2-0 lead in the match.

“In these type of games,” York Catholic coach Phil Autrey said, “using timeouts are important. It gave them a chance to reset and talk about what we were running.”

Blecher was especially encouraged to see the Wildcats' resiliency after a so-so performance at the Dallastown Invitational tournament Saturday.

“We struggled at our tournament,” Blecher said. “So we really went at it at practice (Monday) and had a team meeting that we needed to have a turn. Hopefully this is our turning point and we start peaking at the right time of the season.”

Dallastown's Kirby Campbell (3) against Dover during their boys volleyball game in Dallastown on Thursday, Apr. 20, 2023.

The Wildcats, whose only losses in the league came against Northeastern and Central York, still have clashes against Suburban and rival Red Lion, who dropped a five-set marathon match to Northeastern on Tuesday.

“Fortunately we’ve had a long season with some trial and error to find what works,” Fureman said. “We’ve had some experiences with (big games).”

The Irish, who own a victory over Suburban, still have an important battle with the Lions on Thursday. The loser of that contest will likely be out of the league playoff race.