York, PA - The expected league championship wasn't going to be easy. Even after York Suburban went unbeaten during the YAIAA volleyball season.
For the Trojans on Thursday, the title became downright elusive.
In fact, the favored Trojans were two points away from defeat against host Dallastown in the semifinals. A loss would have meant no YAIAA title and heading to next week's District 3 play on a sour note.
But Suburban's roster is filled with experienced players and seniors who weren't about to let the sought-after prize get away -- no matter how difficult or bleak things looked.
The Trojans rallied from five points down against the Wildcats by scoring the final seven points of the match to win the fourth game, then won Game 5 going away to reach the finals.
Suburban then spilt two games with Northeastern before running off the next two en route to winning the YAIAA championship in four games, 25-19, 19-25, 25-17, 25-9.
Despite the hurdle, the Trojans won the title they were destined for after rolling through the league without as much as losing a game, finishing with an 11-0 record.
Trojans coach Jamie Evans, who admitted to preparing for the worst result late in the semifinal match, was pleased, if not speechless at the tenacity shown by his team. However, there were a few moments ...
"To be honest, (I was thinking) what I was going to say to them. ... They wanted it so bad," Evans said.
Fortunately for top-seeded Suburban, that speech wouldn't be needed as Jaryd Eshler's ace tied Game 4 against Dallastown at 23. Kody Deiter recorded a kill, and Fred Gard notched his third kill over the final seven points to win the game.
"I think we were all freaking out a little bit. We haven't really been down like that all season," senior Ted Hinnenkamp said. "Thankfully Jaryd stepped up and served five great points and got the win for us."
Eshler took over in Game 5, notching six of his 18 kills for the match, and the Trojans advanced to the finals after holding off the Wildcats, 20-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-23, 15-7.
"Jaryd put the team on his back," Deiter said.
Yet after being up against the wall, Suburban had to respond against a Bobcat team that also needed five games to win their semifinal against Dover, 22-25, 17-25, 25-17, 25-16, 15-13.
While Eshler had six of his 13 kills in the opener against Northeastern, the rest of the Trojans found their game as well, particularly sophomore Jacob Kauffman, and junior Brad Hartshorne, who put a wall up in combining for 17 blocks.
Still, Suburban needed to show resilience one more time after the Bobcats won the second game of the finals, thanks to Stephen Braswell, who knocked home six of his team-high 13 kills for the match.
"The success they have had after the past couple of years, they are a team that never gives up.
"We can never take Northeastern lightly. We knew taking the first game, they were coming back," Evans said.
The Trojans scored six of the first seven points in the third game, en route to a 25-17 win and never gave the Bobcats a chance in the final game, which ended when Deiter's serve hit the net and dropped for an ace.
"I am proud. Our kids have come a long way," Northeastern coach Matt Wilson said. "Suburban is the top team. We are all chasing them. Typically, it's going to be a wily, experienced group that wins the (league) championship."
Something Suburban proved to be Thursday night.
York Suburban def. Dallastown, 20-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-23, 15-7
Northeastern def. Dover, 22-25, 17-25, 25-17, 25-16, 15-13
York Suburban def. Northeastern, 25-19, 19-25, 25-17, 25-9
YORK SUBURBAN 3, NORTHEASTERN 1
(25-19, 19-25, 25-17, 25-9)
Northeastern stats -- Luke Braswell (3 blocks, 25 assists, 6 digs); Stephen Braswell (13 kills, 2 aces, 14 digs); Matt Hollinger (6 kills, 2 blocks, 11 digs); Malik Jefferson (3 kills), Chris Curry (5 kills).
York Suburban stats -- Fred Gard (7 kills, 2 blocks, 12 digs); Jaryd Eshler (13 kills, 10 digs, 1 ace, 1 assist); Jacob Kauffman (6 kills, 9 blocks, 4 digs, 2 aces, 1 assist); Ted Hinnenkamp (11 kills, 2 blocks): Brad Hartshorne (2 kills, 8 blocks, 3 digs); Kody Deiter (1 kill, 3 blocks, 13 digs, 2 aces, 36 assists).