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Hempfield edges Dallastown in Koller Classic

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Even though Hempfield could be heard celebrating its Koller Classic championship across the gymnasium, Dallastown coach Tom Beakler smiled.

"We have nothing to be ashamed about," Beakler said.

"I coached in this tournament for 20 years at Northeastern, and we never made it this far. Even the state champions never won this tournament. It's just an incredible tournament, you face one great team after another."

Dallastown had knocked off all of those great teams in machine-like fashion until the final, not dropping a game until the final championship match.

At the end of Dallastown's near 12-hour stretch at Central York High School, Hempfield had the crisper passing game and the better serving game to claim the title with a 2-0 (25-19, 25-21) victory against Dallastown Saturday.

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Still, the outlook for Dallastown's entire season might have just changed dramatically. A good team at the start of the season now proved it could be a championship contender.

The Wildcats went 8-0 in pool play, knocking off powerhouses Emmaus (25-23, 25-16) and Hempfield (25-14, 25-16). Then the Wildcats beat Pennsbury, 25-13, in a quarterfinal and topped Penn Manor, 25-15, in a semifinal.

Those four teams all entered the week ranked in the top eight in the Class 3A state rankings.

"I think it's a completely different team," Dallastown senior Peyton Ranck said about his team's turnaround. "We showed today we can compete with the top teams in the state."

Dallastown was not even a top-10 team entering the week.

"We just got tired of losing," Dallastown junior Brian Bixler said of the turnaround. "Something finally clicked, 'Hey, we can do something this season, and let's not blow it for the seniors.'"

Beakler pointed to a key spot early in the day against No. 2-ranked Emmaus.

"We got behind Emmaus early and came back with a six-point run, and from that point we just believed," Beakler said.

The YAIAA was once again well represented at the tournament.

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Host Central York earned a 25-22 win against North Allegheny (ranked No. 1 in Class 3A) in the quarterfinals before Hempfield knocked off the Panthers with a 25-22 win in a semifinal.

Northeastern reached the quarterfinals, losing a heartbreaker 29-27 to defending District 3 Class 3A champion Penn Manor.

York Suburban was knocked off in similar fashion in Round 2 with Pennsbury recording a 29-27 win.

Koller Classic
Pool play
Pool A:
Dallastown 8-0, Hempfield 6-2, Derry 3-5, Emmaus 2-6, Cumberland Valley 1-7.
Pool B: Penn Manor 7-1, York Suburban 5-1, North Allegheny 4-2, Ambridge 2-6, Maplewood 0-8
Pool C: Central Dauphin 7-1, Northeastern 7-1, Cambridge Springs 4-4, Montour 1-7, State College 1-7
Pool D: Central York 6-0, Pennsbury 4-2, Chambersburg 3-5, Exeter 3-5, Parkland 2-6.
Tournament play
Round 1:
Montour def. Maplewood, 15-13; Cumberland Valley def. Exeter, 15-11; Ambridge def. Parkland, 15-8; State College def. Emmaus, 15-12
Round 2: Dallastown def. Montour, 25-11; Pennsbury def. York Suburban, 29-27; Northeastern def. Derry, 25-16; Penn Manor def. Cumberland Valley, 25-22; Central Dauphin def. Ambridge, 25-21; Hempfield def. Chambersburg, 25-18; North Allegheny def. Cambridge Springs, 25-15; Central York def. State College, 25-15
Quarterfinals: Dallastown def. Pennsbury, 25-13; Penn Manor def. Northeastern, 29-27; Hempfield def. Central Dauphin, 25-23; Central York def. North Allegheny, 25-22
Semifinals: Dallastown def. Penn Manor, 25-15; Hempfield def. Central York, 25-22
Final: Hempfield def. Dallastown, 25-19, 25-21