Not once. Not twice. Not three times. But four times.
Four consecutive times Delone Catholic volleyball has entered the YAIAA tournament and, in what has become an annual occurrence, cruised through the bracket.
After another impressive performance Tuesday night at Dallastown, Delone Catholic's senior class ensured that they'd never have to walk away from a league tournament without a gold medal around their necks. Four straight trips. Four straight gold medals.
"When you're winning multiple years in a row, and you realize how good our league is at volleyball, it adds significance," Squirettes head coach Jason Leppo said. "But we never want to make it a bigger deal than it is. We have bigger goals. Right now we have a forward focus, and tomorrow, we'll get back to practice. After the season, when we get time to reflect, we'll look back and talk about how it was pretty cool."
Like a well-oiled machine, the Squirettes efficiently moved through the semifinals with a sweep of Division I power Central York, then held off a feisty York Suburban squad in the championship, 25-17, 25-21, 25-17. And it was the senior class, which had been on this stage three times already, leading the way for Delone. Sarah Senft finished with a game-high 19 kills, including eight in Game 2. Katie Laughman chipped in with a game-high 31 assists, Amber Johnson added four kills, and Lilly Singleton finished with six.
"This one feels a little different because I'm a senior," Senft said. "Plus, I played volleyball with all these girls growing up so to win it with them, it feels pretty special."
In all three games against York Suburban, the Squirettes surrendered brief early leads, then pulled away late. In Game 1, two Jordan Landis kills gave the Trojans an early lead, then a third kill later in the game cut Delone's lead to 15-14. But the ever-steady Squirettes closed on a 10-3 run.
Game 2 featured an early back-and-forth battle and a late York Suburban rally, but Senft's big eight-kill performance was too much for the Trojans. The two squads tied 10 times in the third game before Delone shut the door with a 12-5 run.
The Trojans, who still qualified for next week's district tournament, are on the right path regardless of Tuesday's outcome against Delone. Their 25-15, 25-22, 22-25, 25-20 triumph against division rival Susquehannock in the semifinals put them in a position to play for their first gold medal since 1977.
"We've been making our own statements," Trojans head coach Sonia Guyer said. "We've been putting banners on our walls, and we've been getting it done the last few years. We've turned ourselves around. It's not a matter of looking for accolades or acknowledgment, we're just going to go out there and work hard."
On the other side, Leppo made sure to remind his squad that Delone has bigger goals ahead.
"I don't get caught up in medals," Leppo added. "Even with the district and state medals, I couldn't even tell you where they are. For me it's not about that. Maybe years down the road when I'm done coaching, it'll be cool to look back on. But right now, it's all about these kids. I want more for them. It's more about the memories than the medals."
Delone Catholic def. York Suburban
25-17, 25-21, 25-17
Delone Catholic stats — Amber Johnson (4 kills), Katie Laughman (31 assists), Sarah Senft (19 kills, 1 assist), Lexi Shanabrook (3 assists), Lilly Singleton (6 kills), Sydney Dockins (4 kills), Karigen Emig (4 kills, 1 assist), Kayla Ewart (1 kill, 1 assist), Claire Kauffman (1 kill), Lexi Wierman (1 ace), Emily Welsh (1 ace), Kristen Morrow (1 assist).
York Suburban stats — Georgia DuMars (1 kill, 20 assists, 2 aces, 6 digs), Jordan Landis (9 kills, 11 digs), Ali Reinecker (5 kills, 1 block, 3 digs), Ciara Buckingham (5 kills, 1 assist, 5 blocks, 6 digs), Parker Faircloth-Henise (2 kills, 7 blocks, 1 dig) Miranda Kauffman (1 kill, 2 blocks, 2 digs), Emily Hamberger (1 assist, 4 digs), Molly Sargen (1 assist, 7 digs), Eryn McBride (1 kill, 9 digs).