The first time Central York and Red Lion met this season, the Lions took the defending YAIAA Division I girls' volleyball champions to five games before the Panthers emerged victorious.
This time around, Central York swept Red Lion in three games and in the process clinched the divisional crown for a second consecutive season. The Panthers came away with a 25-15, 25-22, 25-22 win Tuesday evening at Red Lion High School.
"The first time we played (Red Lion back on Sept. 24), we were still playing with lineups and just trying to find our way," said Central York coach Nate Ocasio. "Every team is like that at that point of the season. Since then, we've been able to sharpen some things up and found some things that work for us."
Central York (13-0, 11-0) bolted out to the first three points of the opening game and never trailed, winning the final three points to seal a 10-point win.
"That's generally what we've been doing all year against our opponents," Ocasio said. "We've been able to often win Game 1 against our opponents, then get a little wishy-washy at times in Game 2."
Red Lion (12-3, 9-2) battled the Panthers hard in the second game, which saw a tied score on nine occasions. The ninth tie came at 21-21 after a Red Lion serve went long.
"Volleyball is often a game where the team with less errors wins," said Red Lion coach Heather Schoemaker. "Unfortunately for us, it came down to those few, little points where we needed to better ourselves and be more mindful of what we were doing on-court and we didn't. The mistakes cost us. Little things."
Central York junior Ashley Gallagher scored on back-to-back service points to break the deadlock, and the Panthers won the critical second game on a serve by senior Laura Fahs.
"Anytime you can win a tight game like that, it's big," Ocasio said. "Either team that wins Game 2 would have had the momentum."
The Panthers were down, 9-8, in the third game before three straight service points from junior Kamryn Stambaugh propelled Central York into the lead to stay. Red Lion came within a point six times down the stretch, but the Lions could not catch the Panthers. The Lions put a return of a Fahs serve into the net to end the match.
"This is a good team," said Central York senior Emily Poole. "We are all pretty close. We go to dinners together. We lost a few players from last year, but the juniors (this year) did a really good job of stepping up. To win the division two years in a row is really special."
Central York — ranked No. 2 behind Garden Spot in the latest District 3 Class AAA power rankings — will aim to complete an undefeated regular season at home against Spring Grove on Thursday. Red Lion concludes the regular season at Dallastown on Thursday.
"The goal is to put the banner on the wall, but obviously, winning, seeding and power rankings are important right now too," Ocasio said.
Central York def. Red Lion, 25-15, 25-22, 25-22 at Red Lion
Central York stats — Allison Rife (10 kills, 1 dig), Ashley Gallagher (4 kills, 3 aces, 11 digs), Emily Poole (8 kills, 5 blocks, 1 dig), Emma Saxton (3 kills, 30 assists, 2 aces, 8 digs), Hannah Rishel (4 assists, 1 ace, 14 digs), Kamryn Stambaugh (8 kills, 2 blocks, 3 aces, 3 digs), Karah Slow (4 digs), Laura Fahs (1 ace, 10 digs), Natalie Hawksworth (4 kills, 3 blocks, 2 digs).
Red Lion stats — Rachel Groff (1 dig, 19 assists, 1 kill, 2 blocks, 1 ace), Brooke Gladfelter (2 blocks), Emily Sterner (7 digs), Lindsey Blevins (13 digs, 14 kills, 1 block, 2 aces), Lauren Enfield (8 digs, 5 kills, 2 aces), Logan Dontell (6 digs, 2 kills, 3 blocks), Kayla Johnson (3 digs), Jenna Enfield (7 digs).
JV Score — Central York def. Red Lion, 25-7, 15-25, 15-9.