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West York earns revenge of Palmyra in state quarters

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LANDISVILLE – Just last week, West York found itself two wins away from a district title – only to see it slip in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the Palmyra Cougars.

The Bulldogs, however, had a chance to reverse that fate, getting a second chance with the Cougars, this time on the state tournament stage.

And West York took full advantage of the opportunity, sweeping Palmyra 3-0 (26-24, 26-24, 25-15) Saturday in the PIAA Class 3A Quarterfinals.

“The bottom line is the second time we played them, we didn’t play our game. We had a very bad passing game, and we weren’t disciplined on defense,” Bulldog coach Joe Ramp said. “Their script didn’t change, but our defenses changed as far as blocking goes. We had better team chemistry and passing, knowing there is no tomorrow. The girls really took it to heart.”

West York flipped the momentum by only a matter of two 4-0 runs with its back against the wall, facing game point in the first two sets.

“It’s all perseverance. If they want it, they got to go get it," Ramp said. "That’s been our motto from day one. I just called a timeout down 24-22 and then see what they could do. We do have a rule once you get to 20: we need to play aggressive ball, but play clean and smart, because you’re really close to that five-point margin.”

Palmyra coach Clark Sheaffer said his team’s play simply tightened knowing how close it was to winning both sets, trying to do too much.

“What I think I’ve found with this team is they play better when they’re loose, relaxed and having a good time for each other. So we had really focused on that in practice,” Sheaffer said. “So I think when it comes to saying, ‘One more point,’ it kicks on the pressure for them. They’d rather not see the score and just keep playing, and maybe that’s what I need to emphasize in the future.”

The Cougars looked as if they had shaken off the early hole after jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the third set. But a 6-3 Bulldogs run tied the set at seven, shifting the momentum once again. West York took it to Palmyra from there, closing out the game on an 18-8 run.

Alhough the best season in program history came to a disappointing end, Sheaffer says there’s still so much for his team to take away from this run.

“I told them I’m proud of them. This is a good team and they work hard together," Sheaffer said. "This is going to be a good memory for my daughter (Melanie Sheaffer) and the seniors because to finish a year of high school with a good, cohesive team is something you’ll always cherish,” he said. “Even though we got knocked out, the fact we made it this far is something to be proud of. We knew it was going to be tough. I think West York can be a serious contender.”

Now as West York gets ready for Allentown Central Catholic in Tuesday’s semifinals, Ramp is putting his team right back to work.

“We’ll get tape on them and I have the girls do a shot chart, they show what they’re defense looks like, so I really put them to work,” he said. “I think that really mentally prepares them, because that’s what we had trouble doing earlier in the season.”

Tuesday’s semifinal time and place are to be determined.