The Delone Catholic High Squirette girls volleyball team could do no wrong Monday at Lower Dauphin High during the first-round pool of the District 3 Class AA tournament.
That is, until Greencastle-Antrim and its boisterous team spirit, bordering on lunacy, decided to pick up the intensity and gut-check the Squirettes.
The Blue Devils - who brought their team mascot along for the first-round ride, which is unusual for girls volleyball action - rebounded from a 25-16 first-game loss to Delone in the last match of the night for both teams, but they followed with consecutive victories, 25-22, 25-22, to end the night 8-1 in all games.
The Squirettes finished the night 7-2 in all matches.
"We just buckled under pressure," Delone head coach Stephanie Zortman said. "That first game, we won 25-16 and I told them (Greencastle-Antrim is) not the type of team that's going to let that happen to them two times in a row. So they took that second one from us. They outplayed us, and that third game, we came out and had nothing."
Zortman admitted the emotionally driven Blue Devils may have cut through the fabric of the Squirettes' focus during those last two games.
"That's something I've been trying to preach to our players all season, to be more vocal," Zortman said. "Because, if you're vocal, that means your mind is in the game and your body will follow. I told them (Greencastle-Antrim is) a very vocal team and, if you let them get in the game, they will throw it in your face and that's basically what they did."
But despite the ending, the Squirettes have big reason for optimism.
Both Greencastle-Antrim and Delone qualified for the quarterfinals of the district tournament.
The Squirettes, earning the second-place bid out of Pool A, will face the Pool D first-place team, Susquehannock, on Wednesday at Lower Dauphin.
Senior Rachael Hoffman, who was a big part of the Squirettes' 25-17, 25-15, 26-24 victory over Littlestown and 25-17, 25-14, 25-19 win over Schuylkill Valley, believes Delone has all the right gifts to continue.
"I think communication is the biggest thing we have to focus on," said Hoffman, who had 17 assists and four blocks against Greencastle-Antrim. "We have all the other strengths. We just need to put them all together.
Littlestown went 1-8 in pool play on Monday and earned its lone win, 25-17, against Schuylkill Valley in the last match of the night.
Head coach Ken Crockett, who took over for Ashley Walton about three weeks ago when she accepted an assistant coaching position at California University of Pennsylvania, said there were many positives to take away.
"Halfway through the season, we saw that there was still a possibility (for districts) and we really started working hard (for that)," Crockett said. "The fact that we did get here with such a young team is a positive thing."
Contact Cory Mull at firstname.lastname@example.org.