BOYS' VOLLEYBALL: Penn Manor headed to district finals after downing Central Dauphin
DALLASTOWN - In a broader sense, the mentality of the Penn Manor Comets boys' volleyball team this season stayed "unbroken."
In the immediate sense, their serves went unbroken throughout the opening set of the District 3 semifinal match versus Central Dauphin, propelling the Comets to a 3-1 (25-18, 25-23, 17-25, 25-17) victory Wednesday evening at Dallastown Area High School.
Tied at 7-all early in the first set, the Comets (16-3) reeled off a 10-2 run on the Rams (13-2), capped by back-to-back aces by senior outside hitter Griffin Sangrey.
"We all got our serves in, so that's always good," Sangrey said of the opening game. "Once we get our serves in we can do something with it. If we're making mistakes, we're not getting anywhere."
Where Penn Manor is headed is the District 3 AAA final opposite Central York (13-1), a 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 25-17, 23-25, 15-12) winner over Comets' L-L rival Hempfield (16-1) in Wednesday's second semifinal. The title-bout is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday back at Dallastown.
"I couldn't think of a better group of boys to make it to the finals again, to do what they're doing," said head coach Chris Telesco. "We've been riddled with injuries all season, for them to start playing the way they just played right now, I'm just so proud of them.
"They've been unbroken all year, and we've played some good volleyball at key times," Telesco added, referring to the popular book, Unbroken, read by team leaders regarding Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini's personal triumph over adversity. "I'm so proud of them, I really am. They're a great group of guys to be in the finals."
After cruising late in the first set, Penn Manor built a 14-7 lead in the second on a variety of impressive kills by Sangrey (13 kills, 3 aces, 7 digs), Sam Greenslade (11 kills, 12 digs), and Justin Torres (7 kills) before Central Dauphin rallied to tie the game at 22-all behind the strong play of junior hitter Brady Campbell and senior setter Jacob Kerschner.
But the Comets countered with the setting of senior Dawson Funk (76 assists, 8 digs), who missed much of the season as part of the Comets revolving door of injuries.
"It's nice to have some continuity," Sangrey said of Funk's return. "He's able to see where to set, so he'll set it middle and then throw it outside. The blockers are trying to figure out where he's going with it."
A pair of Greenslade kills gave the Comets the 24-23 lead in the second, before Funk finished off the game at the server stripe, his send-off glancing the netting and over for a fortunate, but well-played ace.
"Anytime you call something a game, there's a little luck involved," Telesco said. "Sometimes points just fall the way you want them to fall; I love it."
But Central Dauphin would continue their rally in the third set as the Comets offense went cold, tightening the match at two games to one.
"Every game has a life of its own, so yes we lost one, but you have to start over at zero and you have to play," Telesco said of heading into the fourth game. "We just had to play better. We got our serves in, we played better and these boys played their hearts out. I just watched good volleyball; I just watched."
Finding themselves in another 7-all deadlock in the fourth set, Penn Manor began to pull away. Noah Leichliter (7 kills, 4 blocks) and Sangrey helped build a 20-13 lead before Greenslade finished off the contest with a clean kill at center-court for the victory.
"We have a saying, every new game is a new creature," Sangrey said regarding the fourth game Wednesday. "We faced it with a new set of eyes. Don't remember the past, just go and do this new one."
Seems an apropos way of thinking for a team playing in the District 3 finals, and whose season-long mentality remains unbroken.
Boys' High School Volleyball
District 3 AAA Semifinal
Penn Manor 3, Central Dauphin 1 (25-18, 25-23, 17-25, 25-17)
Penn Manor Statistics:
Kills-G. Sangrey 13, S. Greenslade 11, J. Torres 7, N. Leichliter 7
Blocks-N. Leichliter 4, D. Funk 3
Aces-G. Sangrey 3, D. Funk, J. Torres, S. Greenslade, T. Foultz
Digs-S. Greenslade 12, D. Funk 8, G. Sangrey 7
Assists-D. Funk 76