Senior Josh Van Wyk watched as the ball from the last official swing he'd ever take in the Central York gymnasium bounced off a pair of Eastern York blockers before flying toward the stands.
Spinning to face his teammates, he expressed composed satisfaction in his celebration. He lacked the pure joy one might expect after bringing home a victory, 3-1 against Eastern York, in his final home game.
"It was nice to get the last kill, but it would have been better if we'd played better overall," he said. "We made way too many errors."
Fortunately, Tuesday night was senior night in name only at Central York.
"It's good to get the guys going, but as Coach likes to say, we hope our true senior night is at the end of states," junior Royce Clemens said.
With a predominantly senior lineup, the Panthers (11-0, 12-0 YAIAA Division I) captured the first game with ease in a 25-14 opener. The trouble followed in 23-25, 25-19, 25-20 games to close out the night.
Central York coach Brad Livingston was thankful on two fronts -- for getting to a showdown with Northeastern (10-0, 11-1) unblemished and for having to fight a little before it.
"We needed to play a little bit. We've been playing a lot of different lineups lately," he said. "We're fortunate enough to get by and survive. A few years ago we lost a match to Susquehannock just a few matches before Northeastern."
Livingston was bothered by a run of double-digit error totals. In Game 2, the Panthers made 17, then reduced the totals to 14 and 12, closing out the night.
They made up for their lack of brilliance with balance. Clemens finished with 15 kills, followed by Ryan Gardner, who had 14. Alex Klunk and Van Wyk drilled 10 and nine, respectively, on the strength of Dylan Hose's 20 assists.
Clemens also led the team with 10 digs. Brett Lomicky followed with eight.
Eastern York coach Carol Thompson was pleased to see her team fighting. Austin Miller had 29 assists, setting up Sandon Eaton nine times. Brady Dailey and Liam Eifert had double digits in digs, and Royce recorded five blocks.
"I was really impressed with the way the kids played -- truthfully I was not expecting them to be as cool, calm and collected playing against Central," Thompson said. "They played up, they played steady and stayed calm through every play."
Clemens said the team lacked energy in the home finale, but he didn't see the trend continuing beyond Tuesday.
"It shouldn't be different, but it is going to be different for Northeastern," he said. "The atmosphere is going to be different. It's a big rivalry. The guys will be extra pumped for practice tomorrow and our energy is determined by how we practice."
CENTRAL YORK 3, EASTERN YORK 1
(25-14, 23-25, 25-19, 25-20)
Eastern York stats -- Sandon Eaton (9 kills, 9 digs); Austin Miller (1 kill, 2 blocks, 5 digs, 29 assists); Elliot Royce (5 kills, 5 blocks, 1 assist); Mike Bair (5 kills, 3 blocks, 9 digs); Jason Seitz (3 kills); Nathan Myers (4 kills, 4 blocks, 2 digs); Liam Eifert (10 digs); Brady Dailey (4 kills, 3 blocks, 1 ace, 11 digs, 1 assist) .
Central York stats -- Josh Van Wyk (9 kills, 2 blocks, 5 digs); Royce Clemens (15 kills, 1 ace, 10 digs, 1 assist); Alex Klunk (10 kills, 1 blocks, 4 digs, 1 assist); Ryan Gardner (14 kills, 1 ace, 3 digs, 1 assist); Matt Thomas (1 kill, 1 block); Dan Hamme (3 kills, 1 dig); Dylan Hose (1 block, 4 digs, 49 assists); Nick Salter (1 ace, 5 digs, 1 assist); Derek Wisner (4 digs); Brett Lomicky (9 digs); Andrews Dadeboe (2 blocks); Jason Gardner (2 kills).