All season long, the Central York and Red Lion girls' volleyball teams have been linked together as the top two teams in YAIAA Division I.
So it was only fitting that once the District 3 Class AAA volleyball championships started, the schools would be together in more ways than one.
Saturday at Dallastown, the Panthers and Lions found themselves taking on tough Mid-Penn Conference opponents and facing in the same, unenviable situation: trailing in a fifth-game, winner-takes-all match.
Yet both teams showed the character and mental toughness needed to perform under such circumstances, coming from behind to earn Sweet Sixteen round victories with identical scores in the final game.
Second-seeded Central beat No. 15 Chambersburg, 15-25, 25-19, 26-24, 20-25, 15-12, while Red Lion, seeded 10th, handed No. 7 Waynesboro its first loss in 21 matches, 23-25, 25-14, 25-19, 17-25, 15-12.
And for their efforts, the two local squads earned spots in Tuesday's quarterfinal round against each other.
But before worrying about their third meeting of the season, the teams get to savor the success they found Saturday under pressure.
First came the Lions' turn to come from behind. The Maidens jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the clincher, forcing a timeout.
Red Lion (14-3) then began chipping away at the deficit, eventually tying it at seven apiece on a Logan Dontell block. It would be tied three more times before Lindsey Blevins notched one of her 18 kills to give the Lions the lead for good.
Head coach Heather Shoemaker said she knew what to expect out of the Maidens and was pleased with how her team responded to the challenge.
"We just worry about ourselves. That's been our mantra for the second half of the season," she said. "Today, everybody contributed to the win. I couldn't be more proud of this team."
Blevins said she was confident going into the match.
"We've been ready for this game. Anyone can win the district because everyone is so close," the junior outside hitter said .
Central (15-0) also got a big performance from its offensive star, Emily Poole, who had 21 kills against the Trojans.
But just as important to the Panthers' success was the support Poole got from teammates Allison Rife (11 kills) and Ashley Gallagher (nine kills), according to head coach Nate Ocasio.
"(Ashley) really took advantage of what she was given," he said. "And Allison Rife just played phenomenally, especially when we were out of system."
In its deciding game, Central trailed as late as 10-7 when Chambersburg missed a serve coming out of the Panther timeout.
A pair of Poole kills tied it at 10. Kamryn Stambaugh followed up one of her 11 kills out of the middle to give Central York a permanent lead.
Ocasio said he wasn't happy with the pairing against the Trojans, who matched up well physically with his team, but knew the Panthers had a win in them.
"That was the worst possible draw in a Sweet Sixteen match for us," he said. "We had a couple of nice practices leading up to (Saturday). We looked relaxed coming into it."
Red Lion def. Waynesboro, 23-25, 25-14, 25-19, 17-25, 15-12 at Dallastown
Red Lion stats — Lindsey Blevins (18 kills, 6 digs, 3 blocks, 1 ace), Logan Dotell (7 digs, 6 blocks, 6 kills, 1 ace), Lauren Enfield (8 digs, 1 block, 5 kills, 10 aces), Rachel Groff (10 digs, 1 ace, 30 assists, 1 block), Brooke Glatfelter (4 blocks, 7 kills), Emily Sterner (10 digs), Kayla Johnson (3 blocks), Jenna Enfield (3 aces).
Waynesboro stats — Liv Fogelsonger (11 kills), Alyssa Taylor (30 digs, 1 ace), Ciara Rosenberger (21 kills, 2 aces, 7 digs), Jordan Stoops (45 assists), Rachel Johnson (11 kills), Kaylie Yarnell (17 digs), Brycelin Spidel (4 blocks, 6 kills)
Central York def. Chambersburg, 15-25, 25-19, 26-24, 25-20, 15-12 at Dallastown
Cental York stats — Allison Rift (11 kills, 2 digs), Ashley Gallagher (1 ace, 9 kills, 2 blocks, 12 digs), Emily Poole (21 kills, 4 blocks, 2 digs), Emma Saxton (1 ace, 1 kill, 51 assists, 8 digs), Hannah Rishel (2 assists), Kamryn Stambaugh (2 aces, 11 kills, 1 block, 5 digs), Karah Slow (1 ace, 11 digs), Larua Fahs (2 aces, 17 digs), Natalie Hawksworth (4 blocks).
Chambersburg stats — Danessa Martin (1 kill, 1 ace, 24 digs), Lauren Ching (43 assists, 10 digs), Kailey Layman (3 aces, 8 digs), Caitlin Vrabel (1 ace, 4 blocks, 19 kills, 6 digs), Cara Long (14 kills), Bailee Nitterhouse (6 kills, 16 digs), Lauren Diller (7 kills, 8 digs).