Magic runs out on Central York's bid for PIAA volleyball repeat vs. Seneca Valley
ALTOONA >> Central York faced match point three times before Seneca Valley's Tyler Herrmann finally put away the Panthers.
Just a week ago, Central faced match point five times before it rallied and eventually won a District 3 championship against Penn Manor. A similar task was required in the final moments of Saturday's PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal at Altoona Area High School. On this occasion, Seneca Valley denied the defending state champions and advanced with a 3-1 victory.
"We had a couple of cushion points," Herrmann said, "so we could take a little breather, just relax and just stick that one pass to nail that kill."
A 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter, Herrmann scored the final point of a match-clinching Game 4 and provided an ace to seal Game 1 in the Raiders' victory. The District 7 (WPIAL) squad never advanced past the first round in program history. Now it's headed to the state semifinals after a 29-27, 20-25, 25-20, 25-22 win.
Ranked fifth in the state by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association, Seneca Valley (17-2) advances to face top-rated Fox Chapel (18-1) on Tuesday. The sides are familiar with each other as members of the same section in the WPIAL. They split their two regular-season meetings before the Foxes won last week's district title in four games.
Central (16-3) was prepared for this moment.
Panthers coach Brad Livingston sent assistant Dwayne Warehime to scout these Pittsburgh-based WPIAL squads during their district tourney. With these quarterfinal pairings, the Panthers were guaranteed to face two of them on a path back to State College for the finals. Fox Chapel beat another District 7 squad, Bethel Park, in five games to decide their quarterfinal.
District 3's Hempfield and District 11 champion Parkland — the state's No. 2-ranked squad and this year's Koller Classic winner — also advanced to Tuesday's semifinal round.
Central entered the state tournament ranked fourth by the PVCA. It was Panthers' highest billing of the season as they knocked off Hempfield and Penn Manor en route to their district crown. Livingston credited two late-season matches against YAIAA-rival Northeastern for setting the postseason tone.
"After that we became a lot different team mentally, and I thought we were ready to make a run," Livingston said. "Unfortunately it stops a couple of matches short."
A back-and-forth Game 1 required extra points Saturday in Altoona, a drive of 120-150 miles for both schools. Central rallied for Game 2 before more plays went Seneca Valley's way.
The Raiders opened a pivotal third game on an 11-4 run. During that stretch Livingston called a timeout and yelled to his players.
"I see a bunch of people feeling sorry for each other," he said.
They rallied, but 6-5 Seneca Valley middle blocker John Dolfi denied numerous attempts at the net. Dolfi even provided Game 3's final point and finished with 10 kills and five blocks.
Central countered by taking the game to the edges of the net. Jeremiah Dadeboe registered a match-high 20 kills in his final performance, punctuating a season in which Livingston thought his team "grew an awful lot."
"Give it a few days," Livingston said, "and I think they'll know they went from a team that was kind of rebuilding and in new roles to a team that became a pretty excellent volleyball team at the end of the season."
Dadeboe, Jason Gardner and Landon Shorts were three all-star players back from last season's PIAA title team. Gardner and Shorts will play volleyball next year at Stevenson University. Dadeboe is bound for the University at Buffalo and will join his older brother on the football team.
"I got to Seneca three years ago and there were three programs across the state I knew I wanted to emulate: North Allegheny, Central York and Hempfield," Raiders coach Daniel Follett said. "Central York, I wanted to emulate them because every year they're in the mix. Every year they've got kids going to play in college."
Follett shared those thoughts with Livingston.
"After three years," Follett said, "I think we've gotten to it."
Contact Matt Goul at 771-2045.
Seneca Valley def. Central York, 29-27, 20-25, 25-20, 25-22 at Altoona Area High School
Seneca Valley stats — Tyler Herrmann (11 kills, 1 ace, 1 block), Anthony Sprentz (40 assists), John Dolfi (10 kills, 5 blocks), Taylor Matthews (8 kills, 2 blocks, 1 ace).
Central York stats — Jeremiah Dadeboe (20 kills, 2 blocks, 3 digs), Landon Shorts (23 assists, 9 digs, 2 kills, 1 block), Jason Gardner (14 kills, 3 aces, 3 digs, 2 blocks, 1 assist), Hayden Wagner (6 blocks, 6 kills, 2 digs), Braden Neal (6 digs, 3 kills, 1 ace, 1 assist), Carter Luckenbaugh (16 assists, 3 digs).