Red Lion boys' volleyball spoils Dallastown's league playoff push with 3-1 win

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

RED LION — If there’s one lesson to be learned from the 2023 York-Adams League boys’ volleyball season, it's to not take anyone lightly. Especially your rivals.

With one victory standing between Dallastown and a berth into the four-team Y-A playoffs next week, the Wildcats only needed to get past rival Red Lion on Tuesday evening.

The Lions, who were already eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to York Catholic last week, certainly weren’t going to let their backyard nemesis get an easy pass. Even with four losses, including a pair of heartbreaking five-set defeats to league-leading Northeastern and third-place York Suburban this season, the Red Lion boys are a team no one in the league looks forward to facing.

That was proven Tuesday, as the Lions put together one of their best performances of the season. After rallying back to take Set 1, the hosts rebounded from a loss in Set 2 to sweep the final two sets en route to a 27-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-20 victory.

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

The result ended a three-game skid for the Lions, who improved to 9-6 overall and 8-4 in the league. Dallastown dropped to 11-5 and 8-4, one game behind York Catholic (9-3) for the final league playoff berth.

“If we’re out,” Red Lion coach Rick Torbert said, “they might as well be out, too.”

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The 1-2 duo of Tyler Good and Matthew Miller was a force to be reckoned with Tuesday. Good, one of the top outside attackers in the league, finished with 17 kills, while Miller, an imposing 6-foot-5 middle, tallied 12 kills and five blocks in the victory.

“We had a lot of energy coming out the gate,” Good said. “We were just trying to get started early and hit a bit of a rocky start, but we picked it up.”

The Lions rallied back late in Set 1 to even the score before the teams traded points back and forth. Deadlocked at 25-all, the hosts finished off the first set with two big points from Good to take the lead.

Miller, however, was a difference-maker even when he didn’t touch the ball. The Dallastown attack had to account for his size in the middle by hitting around him as much as possible.

“We’ve had some tough losses where I think we got outplayed defensively,” Torbert said, “but tonight I think we outplayed them defensively.”

After winning Set 2, the Wildcats were unable to capitalize on their momentum early in Set 3. If anything, they came out extremely flat, which allowed the Lions to take the first seven points. That deficit proved to be too much, even though Dallastown rallied to cut the Red Lion advantage to three points a couple of times.

Red Lion's Ryan Bennett (3) against Eastern York during their boys volleyball match in Red Lion on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

The Lions took advantage of Set 3’s momentum in building a steady lead throughout Set 4.

The hosts also did a solid job in limiting Dallastown standout Jaiyden Bethel to just nine kills in the contest.

“We put up a really good block against a really good player,” Good said. “And we held him to a decent amount of kills.”

While neither the Lions nor Wildcats will be in the upcoming York-Adams League draw, both teams are solidly entrenched in the District 3 Class 3A tournament. Dallastown is currently No. 8 in the rankings, with the Lions pulling up to No. 9 after the victory.

If those seedings hold — which may be unlikely due to Red Lion having another big match on the schedule Thursday against No. 2 Cumberland Valley — the two rivals would meet up in the first-round of the district playoffs.

“It is what it is,” Good said. “It feels good to get a win, and we’ll roll into districts and go from there.”