An eclectic mix of music blared over the Sonny Sheppard Jr. Memorial Gymnasium sound system --from AC/DC to Big and Rich.
However, there was little time for dancing for the Delone Catholic High girls' volleyball team. Instead, the practice was focused, with breaks sprinkled within it so second-year head coach Jason Leppo could teach a point here and there.
"They're going to pass, set and swing just like we're going to pass, set and swing," Leppo said about the Squirettes' PIAA Class AA championship opponent, District 10 champion Fort LeBoeuf.
The 1 p.m. clash on Saturday at Central York High School will pit teams with similar fortunes in a winner-take-all match. Both squads are unbeaten and both have a serious opportunity at history.
For the YAIAA and District 3 champion Squirettes, the PIAA crown would be the first in school history, perhaps surprising considering the talent which has passed through McSherrystown over the years.
"Leppo would tell us the stories about how good those girls were, like Sarah Gates and, I don't even know, a bunch of other girls back in the day, Lyndsey Smith and all of that," libero Hannah Lawrence said, "and how they haven't been able to reach their dreams.
"He always says he wants to see the seniors go out winning. No senior has gone out winning yet, and he's very excited to see if we can do it."
Because Fort LeBoeuf is located near Erie, Delone's ability to achieve the dream may depend upon what information Leppo can get about the Bison. But the coach was planning Thursday night to use one big advantage.
Former Delone head coach Tom Hunt currently coaches Hempfield, which faced Fort LeBoeuf in a tournament and whose staff videotaped the match. Leppo will watch that tape with Hunt.
Meanwhile, Leppo said, "Everyone that I've talked to says this should be a great matchup. They like to play a similar style to us. I know they have an outside hitter who's very
Likewise, the Squirettes (25-0) bring their own strengths. Cambria Wierman has pounded 52 kills in the three PIAA tournament matches. In those same matches, Allie Mondorff has accumulated eight service aces, 27 digs and 87 assists. Lawrence has added 57 digs.
However, Lawrence indicated such numbers are hardly automatic.
"We try to get in rhythm," she said. "I know, a lot of times, we're down in the beginning of the game because we're not in sync yet. It usually takes us about 10 points, but we pull it together. We talk about the plays and get in rhythm."
That slow start has come onto Leppo's radar as well.
"I think, early on, if you look at it as two teams trying to feel each other out," he said, " ... it takes us about half of a game to settle in and make some adjustments and find out things that work.
"You never want to be in that situation. In a perfect world, you're up 15-5, but it's something with this team. ... If that happens, we're not going to panic. It just seems to be our style."
One adjustment will be the gymnasium. Though only 45 minutes away, Central York will be a new venue for the Squirettes, according to Leppo, but its location could offer the biggest advantage Delone will have.
"I hope it's a huge one. It's what kind of crowd we get there," Leppo said. "With it being so close to home, hopefully we'll get all of McSherrystown and all of York-Adams to come out and support us.
"When you think about it, a state championship 45 minutes away from your school, the atmosphere, hopefully it's to our advantage."
But Leppo doesn't want to think yet about what advantage a state crown would offer his program. That is analysis for another day. For now, there is the moment at hand.
"The key is what we do on our side of the net," Leppo said. "We have to serve aggressively, as we always do, pass well and, when we have chances to score, score."
"I don't know if it'll turn out to be a defensive battle. Well, I don't know if we'll win. I don't know if we'll lose, but I do know we will play hard."
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