York, PA -
One game into Susquehannock's District 3 Class AAA quarterfinal with Cumberland Valley on Wednesday, everything seemed to be going so right. The next three were anything but that.
The Warriors' passing, which played a key role in their YAIAA Division I title-winning regular season, was no longer as crisp.
Communication was no longer as clear.
But, most of all, Cumberland Valley's size was too effective in front of the net.
"I think size is always a beautiful thing," Cumberland Valley coach Jackie Orner said after her team beat Susquehannock, 19-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-16, at Central York High School.
Of course, it was not so pretty for Warriors coach Rob Marrison and his six seniors -- all of whom he had coached since seventh grade. And when Kelly Friers sent the last of her match-high 15 blocks back into a trio of Susquehannock players in front of the net, that six-year run ended.
The fifth-seeded Eagles (16-2) denied fourth-seeded Susquehannock (13-3) a repeat district championship. They advanced to today's semifinals against undefeated Hempfield back at Central.
"Once you get to this point in the season, all of the easy matches are done. The kids are fighting from here on out," said Marrison, whose program is accustomed to qualifying for the state tournament and had won three district titles in the last six years.
Susquehannock needed to dig itself out of early holes in just about every game Wednesday. Marrison blamed the struggles on a passing game he said fell apart. Both of the Eagles' wins in Games 2 and 3 were keyed with runs that included communication lapses ending with the ball landing unchallenged in the middle of the Warriors' floor.
But those few hiccups were miniscule to the presence Cumberland Valley's trio of Friers, Emily Thomas and Kristine Jahn at the net. The three combined for 29 blocks, 17 kills (43 set kills between Friers and Jahn) and 21 digs.
"When we go against teams that have size like they do, if we're not passing the ball and running our offense, we're just not going to be successful," Marrison said. "I think they made some good adjustments. They started serving from different spots, and we weren't able to pass the ball as effectively as we normally do.
"When we weren't passing well, we were eating it."
Knowing Susquehannock's strength is its passing, Orner said she adjusted schemes about six times.
"We tried to keep them thinking instead of just playing," she said, crediting her team's depth to accomplish it. That allowed Orner to shuffle 10 players throughout the match, particularly up front, as she brought in Jahn off the bench for a team-high 10 digs.
The Eagles' performance also came without senior Rachel Snyder, who Orner said was their No. 1 outside hitter entering the season and has multiple scholarship offers. They have been without her since she suffered tears in her ACL and MCL during a preseason scrimmage.
"We definitely could have stepped it up on defense," said Susquehannock senior Leah Deter, who had 12 kills and 18 digs in her last match. "There wasn't one particular part of the game that went wrong. Cumberland Valley's a good team."
at Central York
CUMBERLAND VALLEY 3, SUSQUEHANNOCK 1
(19-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-16)
Cumberland Valley stats -- Sharalyn Lankford (8 digs), Emily Thomas (9 blocks, 3 kills, 2 digs), Bethany Gould (43 digs, 6 aces), Abbie Hamilton (4 kills, 2 digs), Karleigh Lutz (21 digs, 11 kills, 4 aces, 1 block), Kelly Friers (15 blocks, 9 digs, 8 kills, 1 ace), Lora Nuschke (9 digs), Emma Hager (1 kill), Elizabeth Scott (10 kills, 4 digs, 3 blocks), Kristine Jahn (10 digs, 6 kills, 5 blocks).
Susquehannock stats -- Leah Deter (18 digs, 12 kills, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 1 ace), Beth Garrison (20 digs, 3 kills, 1 assist, 1 block), Rachel Moltz (31 assists, 10 digs, 5 kills, 4 blocks, 2 aces), Caroline Savin (7 kills, 1 block), Genna Weger (40 digs, 1 ace), Abbey Barnhart (5 kills, 3 digs, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 1 ace), Bethany Miller (2 digs), Abigail Bentz (28 digs, 8 kills, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 1 ace).