York, PA - It was hard the pinpoint the moment when the momentum switched, planting itself on Susquehannock's side of the court like a well-placed spike.
One moment, the Warriors girls' volleyball team was staring at an early, eight-point deficit in the second game of its District 3 Class AA quarterfinal pool play match with Berks Catholic. Susquehannock had already secured its spot in the semifinals, but a loss would have meant a lower seed -- and a tougher road to the final.
The next moment, the Warriors were in the midst of a methodical resurgence, one they rode to a comeback victory against the Saints, 21-25, 27-25, 25-16, and the top seed from their quarterfinal pool.
There wasn't a defining sequence or a clear turning point against Berks Catholic, ranked the No. 2 Class AA team in the state by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association. (Susquehannock was rated No. 4.) The Saints led 9-1 in Game 2, before Susquehannock began chipping away. A few points here. A few more there.
"We pushed through as a team," senior outside hitter Sherelle Walker said. "We just kind of came together and decided we were going to win."
Susquehannock earned a matchup with YAIAA Division II foe West York in the district semifinals at 3 p.m. Saturday at Wilson High School. Berks Catholic will face Brandywine Heights in the other semifinal, with the winners of those two matches meeting in the final that afternoon.
The victory also gave the Warriors a jolt of confidence, after a disappointing showing in the YAIAA tournament last week. Susquehannock was swept by eventual champion Dover in the semifinals.
"We could have very well come here tonight and just tanked," Warriors coach Rob Marrison said. "They stepped up when they needed to tonight. That means they have the mentality finally that we've been looking for all season long."
That mentality certainly showed itself against Berks Catholic. After peeling off a late run to win Game 1, the Saints screeched ahead in Game 2. The Warriors' efficient attack and dogged defense that was on display their first two matches had faded. (Susquehannock toppled Lancaster Mennonite, 25-12, 25-16, 25-7, then breezed past West Perry, 25-11, 25-7, 25-10.)
"We knew that we were so much better than that," Walker said.
"You get them easy serves and easy free balls," Marrison said of the Saints, "and you're going to be eating them."
At one point during the deluge, Marrison called a timeout to challenge his team. Specifically, he called out Walker, a 6-foot offensive sparkplug and the team's top hitter.
"I just looked at her and said 'You're a senior, we gotta get on your back, and you gotta carry us,'" Marrison said. "And she did."
Walker led the Warriors back, one thumping kill at a time. She had 10 in the second game, and 17 in the match against the Saints.
Meanwhile, Susquehannock's defensive tightened. Its mistakes were minimized.
The Warriors tied the game at 18. The teams see-sawed back and forth, before Susquehannock finally took the lead on Walker's kill at 26-25. Her block on the next point finished off the comeback.
Once Susquehannock had an edge, it didn't let it go. The Warriors grabbed a 9-2 lead in Game 3, then scored the final seven points of the match to seal the victory.
Walker led the Warriors with 39 total kills on the night. Junior Caroline Savin added 21 kills, while senior Kacey Franz piled up a combined 39 assists, 32 digs and seven aces in the three matches.
Performances they all hope to build on heading into the semifinals.
"We're going to use this momentum to our advantage," Walker said, "and take it on to Saturday."
District 3 Class AA pool play
Susquehannock def. Lancaster Mennonite, 25-12, 25-16, 25-7
Berks Catholic def. West Perry, 25-14, 25-15, 25-15
Susquehannock def. West Perry, 25-11, 25-7, 25-10
Berks Catholic def. Lancaster Mennonite, 25-10, 25-11, 27-25
Susquehannock def. Berks Catholic, 21-25, 27-25, 25-16
Lancaster Mennonite def. West Perry, 25-18, 25-14, 25-19
Standings: Susquehannock 3-0 (8-1), Berks Catholic 2-1 (7-2), Lancaster Mennonite 1-2 (3-6), West Perry 0-3 (0-9)
Susquehannock (combined statistics) -- Kara Anderson (5 kills, 5 aces), Hannah Bentz (2 aces, 39 digs), Kacey Franz (5 kills, 39 assists, 7 aces, 32 digs), Sherelle Walker (39 kills, 2 aces, 7 blocks), Leah Deter (7 kills, 6 assists, 3 aces), Beth Garrison (19 digs), Kristin Hedgeland (4 aces, 1 dig), Rachel Moltz (29 assists), Caroline Savin (21 kills, 4 blocks), Genna Weger (7 aces), Abbey Barnhart (6 kills).