It was as if the Susquehannock girls' volleyball players had ended up in the exact spot they'd left off the previous night.

Back in a nip-and-tuck, extra-point game.

Back playing with their season on the line.

Down two games to Southern Lehigh in the teams' PIAA Class AA semifinal Saturday morning, the Warriors rallied. They even forced four match points in a back-and-forth third set.

Each time, the Spartans fended off the challenge.

When Southern Lehigh's final serve dropped to the ground, Susquehannock's thrilling postseason was over. The Spartans' exhausting, third-set victory sealed a three-game sweep, 25-14, 25-22, 30-28 at Central York High School.

The final game similar to the one Susquehannock had played less than 24 hours earlier, a 32-30 tiebreaker victory over Freeport that earned the Warriors their spot in Saturday's semifinal.

This time, the ending was different.

"I knew we'd done it before," Susquehannock senior Kacey Franz said. "I was just hoping we could do it again."

Southern Lehigh later dropped a 3-1 decision to Brandywine Heights in the state championship match.

For the Warriors, the loss ended a postseason run headlined by a District 3 Class AA title. The state semifinal appearance was the program's first since 2008.

Susquehannock could not, however, overcome a Southern Lehigh team that blended dogged defense with an overpowering attack.


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The Spartans tandem of sophomore Melann Amory and senior Molly Grammer combined for 37 kills.

"We called a couple timeouts to try to get the kids adjusted," Warriors coach Rob Marrison said. "We just weren't there (early)."

"They had everything they needed," Franz added. "It was hard to find the weakness to beat them."

Still, Susquehannock had chances to gain a foothold.

The Warriors rebounded from an early deficit in Game 2 to tie the match twice, at both 19- and 20-all. But Southern Lehigh rolled off the next four points to take control.

Then there was Game 3. The teams see-sawed into extra points, during which Susquehannock had four chances to finish the game off. The Warriors committed service errors on two of those set points. Two other times, Grammer slammed balls through the defense. The 6-foot-0 senior outside hitter had 10 kills in the third game, alone.

"When the game's on the line, you got to step up and perform," Marrison said. "I could make the excuse that most coaches would make and say we spent a lot of emotional energy last night in that playoff match, and we did. But the fact of the matter is they outplayed us today."

"We play tournaments all the time," Warriors senior Sherelle Walker added. "Physically, we can overcome a lot. And mentally we can, too. They're just a really great team."

Walker notched a team-high 13 kills, while fellow senior Kacey Franz dished 19 assists.

Walker and Franz were part of a senior core -- along with Hannah Bentz and Kara Anderson -- that formed the foundation of the Warriors' success. All four plan to play volleyball collegiately next season.

"I told the kids here in the huddle, I don't even know if I expected to do as well as we did this year," Marrison said. "They fought hard, worked their butts off in the offseason. I couldn't have asked for anything more out of them."

jclayton@ydr.com; 771-2045

  

SOUTHERN LEHIGH 3, SUSQUEHANNOCK 0
(25-14, 25-22, 30-28)
   Susquehannock stats -- Kara Anderson (2 kills, 2 aces, 2 digs), Kacey Franz (2 kills, 19 assists, 4 aces, 2 digs, 1 block), Sherelle Walker (13 kills, 1 dig, 1 block), Leah Deter (4 kills, 2 blocks), Beth Garrison (2 aces, 9 digs), Rachel Moltz (1 kill, 5 assists, 1 ace, 8 digs), Genna Weger (11 digs), Caroline Savin (5 kills, 2 blocks), Abbey Barnhart (2 kills, 2 digs, 1 block).
   Southern Lehigh stats -- Melann Amory (16 kills), Molly Grammer (21 kills).

Click here to read more about Susquehannock's four seniors.