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Hempfield girls' volleyball held on for a 3-2 victory against Central York Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 at Dallastown High School. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com

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Afterward, Hempfield coach Andrew Olree admitted he had no idea what happened to his team in the fifth and deciding game against Central York.

Somehow the defending District 3 girls’ volleyball tournament champions rallied from an early deficit and held on just long enough to secure a 25-23, 25-27, 25-22, 23-25, 15-12 victory in the District 3 Class 4A quarterfinal match Tuesday at Dallastown High School.

“We got down after losing that fourth game, but something sparked us there,” Olree said. “Neither team wanted to give it up.

“From the quarterfinals on, it’s a blood bath,” Olree said. “And that’s exactly what it was. There was blood on the court.”

Sporting a younger and smaller roster than a year ago, Hempfield relied on Lindsey Heisey (14 kills) and Reily Shelly (14 kills) to finish rallies. But the key might have been Heisey’s service in the fifth game as she helped bring the Knights back from a 9-5 deficit.

“They kept the ball in play,” Central coach Nate Ocasio said. “Obviously they extended the rally a little more than we did, and that was a difference in the match and the difference in the fifth game.”

Central committed 13 service errors to Hempfield’s 9. But the key was late in the fifth game, when both teams needed to eliminate service errors.

Ocasio did not even think senior Kamryn Stambaugh would play in the game after suffering an ankle injury in the YAIAA tournament. She gutted it out, drilling 10 kills to aid the Panthers’ attempt to advance to a semifinal. Emily Wilt recorded a match-high 21 kills, powering Central to comeback victories in games 2 and 4. And setter Emma Saxton, in her final game for Central, had 44 assists.

Both coaches jumped out of their seats. Central’s Kristina Landis ran off the court with blood running pouring from her nose, only to return moments later. And early leads disappeared quickly. In a rematch of two teams that met in the district championship match, the quarterfinal matchup lived up to expectations.

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