For much of the season, York Suburban and Susquehannock have mirrored each other from afar. As they both piled up wins and ran through division play without a loss, they remained tied atop YAIAA Division II.
On Tuesday they finally got a chance to go head-to-head with a chance to prove who was the top squad in the division. And Round 1 went to Susquehannock.
The Warriors (9-2, 8-0) did a little of everything — coming from behind to win once, holding off a Trojans (8-1, 7-1) rally, and pulling away late — while winning 25-21, 25-22, 25-27, 25-23 in front of their home crowd.
Laura Savin tallied 19 kills, Kelly Franz added 43 assists and Karah Sweitzer racked up 43 digs as Susquehannock took sole possession of first place.
"This has been on everybody's radar for a long time so I was really hoping they would rise up a little more to the occasion," York Suburban head coach Sonia Guyer said after her team suffered their first loss this season. "But now they (Susquehannock) have to come and beat us in our house."
The Warriors' offense came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. Behind three Gabee Ogude kills, Susquehannock led by as many as eight points midway through the first game, before a Ciara Buckingham kill and a Molly Sargen ace cut the lead to 18-15. But two late kills from Savin sealed a 25-21 win.
"I liked the way they executed our game plan," Susquehannock head coach Darla Pennewill said. "We knew where we needed to keep the ball away from, so we put it where we needed it to be. That kept us on a roll."
The Trojans bounced back in Game 2, and after seizing an early 6-3 lead, refused to allow Susquehannock back into it. The Warriors tied the game nine times before finally taking a lead, 19-18, then squeaked by, 25-22. A timeout midway through the game was the turning point. The Warriors outscored York Suburban, 14-8, after the timeout.
"I just told them to play one point at a time," Pennewill said of her message in the timeout. "Remember what we need to do and remember what we did that got us our points. They usually play pretty steady like that so we just had to take it back one point at a time and close the gap."
Game 3 provided some fireworks. The Trojans led late, 22-20, but two errors helped Susquehannock tie the score at 24. With her team on the verge of being swept, York Suburban's Jordan Landis, who finished with 12 kills and 14 digs, made the play of the day – a kill with her left hand while tumbling out of bounds near the net. While the Warriors' crowd sat in disbelief, the Trojans gained momentum. A 27-25 win in Game 3 translated into an early lead in Game 4. But the Warriors took a late lead behind three more Ogude kills, and held off a late rally, 25-23.
The Trojans played with heavy hearts. They were without starter Ali Reinecker, who was undergoing a procedure to have two holes in her heart fixed. Two sophomores, Eryn McBride and Cheyanna Buckingham split time filling in for Reinecker.
"The very first thing we learned tonight was that they're ready," Guyer said of McBride and Buckingham, who combined for 6 kills and 17 digs.
Despite the loss, the Trojans are still in play for a second-straight division title. A rematch with Susquehannock looms Oct. 19.
"When we drop a match or drop a set, it's only really a loss if we don't consider it a learning opportunity," Guyer said. "We have half or a little less than half of our season left, so just recover now. Just recover and go at it again."
Susquehannock def. York Suburban, 25-21, 25-22, 25-27, 25-23 at Susquehannock
York Suburban stats — Georgia DuMars (5 aces, 35 assists, 2 blocks, 8 digs), Jordan Landis (2 aces, 12 kills, 1 block, 14 digs), Ciara Buckingham (14 kills, 5 blocks, 14 digs), Parker Faircloth-Henise (4 kills, 2 blocks), Miranda Kauffman (3 kills, 4 blocks), Emily Hamberger (8 digs), Molly Sargen (2 aces, 5 digs), Eryn McBride (14 digs), Cheyanna Buckingham (6 kills, 1 block, 3 digs).
Susquehannock stats — Laura Savin (2 aces, 19 kills, 22 digs, 1 assist), Kelly Franz (1 ace, 3 kills, 16 digs, 43 assists), Karah Sweitzer (2 aces, 43 digs), Gabee Ogude (10 kills, 2 digs, 4 blocks), Kelly Doogan (4 aces, 4 kills, 7 digs, 1 block).