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Red Lion wins District 3 title in comeback fashion

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Red Lion made sure no one would forget its first District 3 title in girls' volleyball. Trailing Hempfield, 2-0, in the best-of-five District 3 Class 4A championship match, Red Lion won the final three games to secure the program's first title Saturday night at Dallastown High School.

What’s one of the cures for a two-game deficit?

If you’re Red Lion’s Logan Dontell, it’s five consecutive aces.

The senior pulled off the five-peat early in the fourth game to set up a deciding winner-take-all fifth game that Red Lion also won to take the crown, 11-25, 18-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-10. The win allowed Red Lion to remain a perfect 8-0 in five-game matches this season, and it snapped Hempfield's string of winning its previous two playoff matches in five sets.

Dontell compiled nine aces in the comeback win, which finally ended on Lindsey Blevins’ 18th and final kill.

Red Lion, the YAIAA and District 3 champions, will begin play in the state tournament Tuesday.

“We just told them, ‘You’ve worked this hard — don’t stop playing to the best of your abilities, don’t let them just take this away from you,’” Red Lion coach Heather Schoemaker said.

Hempfield stood four points away from a sweep in Game 3, when it scored five straight points to pull within, 23-21. But a well-placed hit by Dontell allowed Red Lion to regain serve. Hempfield hit the ball out of bounds to hand Red Lion the Game 3 victory, and the Lions moved within one game of Hempfield.

Early in the fourth game, Dontell followed up her own kill with her five straight aces to turn a 2-1 lead into an 8-1 advantage. Her first two serves hit the net and trickled over, but Hempfield could not play either. Her next two serves were returned out of bounds. Hempfield never moved within five points in Game 4 as Red Lion easily forced a fifth game.

“It’s just that consistent serving,” Schoemaker said. “We’re usually a good serving team.”

A Blevins’ kill put Red Lion on the board in the deciding game after two Hempfield winners. Lauren Enfield and Madelyn Grim each added kills as Red Lion went on an 11-4 run to go up 11-6. The Black Knights inched back to 12-10, but Hempfield committed a service error.

“Those girls, all of them on the court, deserve the recognition because everyone brought key aspects to that game for us,” Schoemaker said.

Grim finished with 36 assists on the night to go with 14 digs. Blevins had 14 digs of her own, with Enfield adding 18.