For the fifth time this season, Penn Manor and Hempfield will meet on the boys volleyball court.
But unlike the first four meetings, this one is for all the marbles. Penn Manor defeated Penn-Trafford, 3-1, in a PIAA Class AAA boys volleyball semifinal to punch its ticket to its first-ever state championship match.
"At the beginning of the year, I don't know that they or I expected this," Penn Manor coach Chris Telesco said. "I saw so much potential, but of all the teams I've had, this probably wasn't the one where we talked about getting to the state final. But they have risen to the occasion, and they're playing like a team. That's the difference."
The state final is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Penn State. The loss ended the Warriors' season with a 21-2 record.
Not surprisingly, George Mason commit Sam Greenslade was a big factor in the victory. The Comets (21-3) had some difficulty adjusting to the strong defensive effort of Penn-Trafford, but once they did, Greenslade was nearly unstoppable.
"They were incredible on defense," Greenslade said. "Our mindset changed, though. We realized that our best shots weren't always going down, but you can't get frustrated right away; that's what good defenses do. We kept playing our game and tried to learn as much as we could - find the gaps and see what they were leaving open."
Telesco said, "Penn-Trafford has more defense than they do offense, and that doesn't take anything away from them. They're a good offensive team, but we knew coming in that they depend on their scrappiness. Certain times when we got them off balance, we could control their scrappiness just a bit more. But when they were on, they were dangerous."
Two long serving runs allowed Penn Manor to take off in the third set, which it dominated to the tune of 25-13.
"Early in the third game, everything seemed to be going their way, and Sam (Greenslade) just took over with his serving," Penn-Trafford coach Jim Schall said. "He was a really good player, and he was hitting from the back row as well."
Greenslade finished with 27 kills, and it was fitting that after a heated fourth game that featured five lead changes and a staggering 14 ties, Greenslade put the final nail in the Warriors' coffin.
"For me today, it was definitely just trying to find a rhythm," Greenslade said. "I think everyone heated up in that third set, which gives me an opportunity personally. The whole team got going, which helped me get free and open."