The coach's voice, at various points frustrated, exasperated, encouraging and confused, grew hushed.
Jason Leppo's Delone Catholic girls' volleyball team was one point away from a thrilling five-set victory in its YAIAA girls' volleyball final against South Western on Tuesday night.
"He just kind of looked at us and said, 'You guys stay calm, stay in control. You know what to do,'" said senior setter Allie Mondorff.
When the huddle broke, the Squirettes put the final exclamation point on an 18-25, 16-25, 29-27, 25-16, 15-12 triumph and a YAIAA tournament title at Dallastown High School.
Cheyenne Altland's clinching kill finished off a marathon night for Delone. Hours earlier Tuesday, the Squirettes had survived another five-set thriller in a semifinal match against Susquehannock. After taking the first two games, Delone held off the Warriors' comeback with a 15-10 win in Game 5.
In the final, the Squirettes found themselves in the opposite situation. They dropped the first two set against an upstart Mustangs team that few had projected to make the championship round.
After surviving a pair of match points in a pivotal Game 3, Delone finally found its rhythm. And began to heed its coach's advice.
"At that point, in the situations we were in, it's on them to figure out a way," Leppo said. "We can't always fix it, it's up to them to fix it. And they just kept finding and creating new ways."
The turning point of the final came late in Game 3. After trailing much of the set, South Western surged ahead late and had match points at 24-23 and 25-24.
Delone fought those off, then clinched the set on Cambria Wierman's kill.
"There were a lot of times when I stood back and said, 'What is going on?'" Mondorff said. "We felt at that moment (in Game 3) we got this."
Added Leppo, "I still don't know exactly how we were able to pull that out."
At one point late in Game 4, South Western coach Cathy Harman gave her players Pixy Stix to give them a jolt of energy.
"We should have finished them off when we had them there," Harman said of Game 3. "We played the same eight players all night. They just got tired."
Delone trailed in the fifth game, 9-7, but won four of the next five points to go ahead for good. Wierman had four kills in the final set, while Mondorff added 10 assists.
Afterward, the Squirettes celebration was tempered by grander thoughts. They are ranked third in the state in Class AA by the PVCA heading into the start of districts next week.
Which brings us back to that conversation at the end of Game 5.
"What I was trying to get them to understand is we have bigger fish to fry," Leppo said. "No matter what happens winning a county championship is great, but we can't take those medals and trade them in for five points next Tuesday.
"I wanted to make sure we calmed down and won, but also make them understand that we don't want this to be our best moment of the season."
DELONE 3, SOUTH WESTERN 2
(18-25, 16-25, 29-27, 25-6, 15-12)
South Western -- Mariah Krumrine (43 assists, 7 digs, 5 kills, 2 aces, 2 blocks), Sarah Bortner (34 digs, 1 ace, 1 kill), Erin Harman (22 kills, 20 digs, 1 block), Danielle Savino (14 digs, 4 kills, 3 aces, 1 assist), Holly Arey (11 kills, 9 digs, 7 blocks, 2 assists), Katelin Willingham (7 kills, 1 dig), Tori Sager (2 digs), Tiara Craig (1 assist, 1 dig), Hannah McMaster (1 kill, 1 dig).
Delone Catholic -- Hannah Lawrence (27 digs, 5 assists), Allie Mondorff (20 assists, 14 digs, 7 kills, 1 ace), Cambria Wierman (17 kills, 13 digs, 2 blocks, 1 assist), Maddie Comly (7 kills), Cheyenne Altland (6 kills, 3 blocks), Meghan Stambaugh (5 assists, 4 digs).