South Western’s Kristen Martinak, left, and Brittany Harman, right, attempt to block the shot of Dallastown’s Jordan Haines during the YAIAA
South Western's Kristen Martinak, left, and Brittany Harman, right, attempt to block the shot of Dallastown's Jordan Haines during the YAIAA Championships' final match Thursday at Dallastown. (Evening Sun Photo by Brett Berwager)
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South Western High's players stood on the sideline while watching the YAIAA official award Dallastown its gold medals.

The Lady Mustangs, tanks on empty, couldn't help but be overcome by emotion.

After all, South Western had won the first game of the finals in a commanding 25-16 fashion and lost a heartbreaker in the second game before ultimately falling to the Lady Wildcats in five games.

"It was a little heartbreaking because we had it in the second game, but we gave it up," said South Western libero Hannah Free.

Ahead 22-19, the Lady Mustangs were on a roll until the Lady Wildcats rattled off six straight points to come from behind and win.

In the third game, the teams played tug of war, but South Western came out on top and it looked like the Lady Mustangs would escape in four games.

"Our passing was pretty good, and we definitely hit the ball really well, but we just didn't kill it every time," Free said.

All was going according to plan. South Western was ahead 11-7 in the fourth game and cruising when the momentum shifted.

Dallastown stormed back with five unanswered points to take a 15-14 lead, and later scored seven of eight points to force a fifth game, which the Lady Wildcats won 15-8.

Heading into the fifth game, South Western coach Paul Zeroth told his team to have fun and realize the unique situation at hand - playing for the YAIAA championship.

"I thought we pretty much had it in control until the fifth game and, about halfway through the fifth game, you could tell people were starting to get down," Free said.

Thursday's match marks the third time Dallastown and South Western have needed five games to settle a match after splitting the matches 1-1 during the YAIAA Division I season.

Free said her team needs to work on building up team unity to keep their season alive during districts.

"I think tonight we are all pretty tired, but when Tuesday comes, other teams better watch out because we'll be ready," Free said.

Though South Western lost in YAIAA championship, the Lady Mustangs' postseason is still alive with the district 3 Class AAA tournament approaching next week.

Zeroth saw a silver lining in that his team made it to the YAIAA championship final with little postseason experience under its belt.

"I think we need to take this, even though we lost, and leave here on a positive note. We made it to the championship match," said Zeroth.

Contact Sam Latter at slatter@eveningsun.com.