When Delone Catholic High senior Allie Mondorff took the court Saturday at Central York High School in the PIAA Class AA Girls' Volleyball Championship game, she knew that, win or lose, it would be the last time she played with her teammates.
She also knew how close they were to closing out their season with a perfect record and bringing home the first-ever state volleyball championship at Delone.
Mondorff's Squirettes were facing a Fort LeBoeuf team that also had history on its mind. A win would also give it the first volleyball title in school history and allow it to finish the season undefeated.
The two teams play extremely similar styles, almost to the point of being mirror images of each other.
The match came down to which team executed its play more effectively and committed the fewest mistakes.
"They got us just enough out of our comfort zone," Delone head coach Jason Leppo said. "They had us do things that we weren't quite ready to do."
"Their setter did a good job of keeping us off balance," he added. "That was big early on. They did a good job of serving us out of system and putting us in predictable situations. They also did a really good job of cheating blockers to certain hitters in certain situations that it was tough for us to score."
The entire match was back-and-forth.
The Squires came out in game one and displayed a combination of nerves and rust in committing service errors and having communication struggles. Bison setter Alex Carroll proved to be a thorn in Delone's side.
With an array of talent to pass to on the outside, and Delone working hard to defend against it, Carroll faked a set and tipped the ball barely over the net on four separate occasions while leading the Bison to a 25-20 game-one win.
The Squirettes rebounded in game two and came out on fire with Maddy Greth serving six straight points, three of which were aces and two of which were earned on kills by senior middle
The Bison were not able to etch their way any closer than five points throughout the set, that ended with Delone's Cambria Wierman serving three straight aces to close the 25-15 win.
Game three was all about Bison senior outside hitter Maria Peluso. Peluso, who is headed to Shippensburg University next year to play volleyball, led the way in the third game with nine kills and four service points in a 25-20 win.
Down 2-1 heading into the fourth game, the Squirettes jumped out to a 19-16 lead before Peluso, who finished with 15 kills and nine digs, again saved the day for the Bison, helping them regain the lead with six service points in a row. It was a lead that they would not relinquish despite a valiant Squirette comeback that fell just short.
The Bison claimed the PIAA Class AA crown with a fourth-set, 25-23 win.
As they had much of the season, the Squirettes were led by Mondorff (29 assists, eight digs, six kills), Hannah Lawrence (21 digs) and Wierman (14 kills, seven digs, five aces).
While the sting of the loss hurts right now, Leppo knows, when his players look back, they will see something special.
"In the long run, this tight match will mean a lot," he said. "Right now, it just hurts. When we have more time, we will look back. We wanted to stay focused on what was ahead of us and not behind us. Our record was 27-1, a county (YAIAA) championship, a district championship and a trip to the state final. There is only one way to have a better year. Right now, it's a little raw to know what it will mean to us in the long run."
The Squires will graduate six seniors, and none may be bigger than Mondorff.
"I am sure there are people that would say this kid is better than her or that kid is better than her around the state." Leppo said. "I don't care. I wouldn't trade her for any kid in the entire state. The impact she had on our program is something that you will see for years and years and years"
Senior Ali Smith reflected upon the close bond every member of the team had with each other.
"We had such incredible chemistry," Smith said. "That is why we made it this far. We knew their outsides were really good. (Peluso) was phenomenal. They had a great setter. They matched up perfectly with us. We do the same stuff they do. It just depends on the day."
For Delone, Saturday was not its day, but it cannot take away from the incredibly successful season it had.
"It's been an awesome journey," Mondorff exclaimed.
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at Central York
FORT LEBOEUF 3, DELONE CATHOLIC 1
(25-20, 15-25, 25-20, 25-23)
Fort Leboeuf stats -- Maria Peluso (15 kills, 9 digs), Jolene Young (11 kills, 2 blocks), Amanda Krolczyk (3 blocks), Abby Rose (30 assists), Allania Banta (13 digs).
Delone Catholic stats -- Hannah Lawrence (21 digs, 1 ace, 1 assist), Meghan Stambaugh (5 assists), Maddy Greth (7 kills, 8 digs, 5 aces), Allie Mondorff (29 assists, 8 digs, 6 kills, 2 aces), MiKayla Strausbaugh (1 ace), Cheyenne Atland (4 kills, 2 blocks), Maddie Comly (5 kills, 1 assist, 2 digs), Cambria Wierman (14 kills, 7 digs, 1 assist, 1 block, 5 aces), Ali Smith (3 kills, 2 blocks), Isabela Ugarte (2 digs, 1 assist), Mary Gingrow (1 kill).