Central York's season ends in state quarterfinals
Saturday marked the end of a memorable girls' volleyball season at Central York.
Central -- which has long seen its boys' volleyball program highlighted as a prominent sport at the school -- witnessed the girls' team win the YAIAA Division I title, reach the district finals for the first time in three decades, and win a state playoff game under the guidance of Nate Ocasio.
But two state playoff wins proved to be out of reach for the Panthers, who were facing Cumberland Valley for the second time in eight days Saturday at Hempfield. Unlike the first meeting when Central won in five games, the Eagles dominated from start to finish, sweeping the Panthers 25-15, 25-22, 25-20.
"It was a very enjoyable season," Ocasio said. "We've had a solid program the last five years, but District 3 is always tough, so to get out of districts and into states is an accomplishment itself."
Every time Central seemed to throw a punch or start a rally, Cumberland Valley would counter with two punches. Central's best chance came in the second game. After spotting the Eagles a 9-6 lead, the Panthers started to make a run. Two Emily Poole kills and a Hannah Rishel ace gave Central a brief 17-14 lead. But the Eagles called timeout, regrouped, and came out on fire. Peighton Wright -- who gave Central trouble along the front line all day -- had six of her 13 kills in the second game, and Cumberland Valley closed on an 11-5 run.
"We came to play today," Cumberland Valley head coach Jackie Orner said with a smile. "As long as we're controlling our side, I never really worry about the offense. As long as we take care of that first ball, we have a setter who can get the ball to who we need to get it to, and we've got enough hitters that we can spread it out and keep it away from what they have."
It was deja vu for Central in the first game. The Panthers have had trouble winning the first throughout the postseason and have fallen behind early in nearly every match other than its first round win over Delaware Valley. The Eagles, who were seeking revenge for last week's loss to Central, had a near-perfect hitting percentage in the first game on their way to a 25-15 win.
"They just played phenomenal," Ocasio said of Cumberland Valley. "They cut down on their errors and just played solid all around...They did a good job of staying in system. Last time, we served short to get their hitters out of rhythm but today they handled it well."
Poole racked up five of her team-high 11 kills and Laura Fahs added an ace in the third, but Cumberland Valley kept Central at bay and the Panthers trailed from start to finish.
Cumberland Valley def. Central York
25-15, 25-22, 25-20
Cumberland Valley stats – Autumn Otto (2 digs, 9 kills, 1 assist), Bianca Harbold (2 aces, 7 digs), Devin McCarrell (1 block, 4 kills), Emily Nesgoda (5 digs), Emma Grever (1 dig, 5 kills), Julie Nightwine (5 digs, 42 assists), Peighton Wright (3 digs, 13 kills, 2 assists), Stephanie Neast (1 ace, 5 digs, 14 kills).
Central York stats – Allison Rife (1 kill), Ashley Gallagher (4 kills, 10 digs), Emily Poole (11 kills, 2 blocks, 3 digs), Emma Saxton (32 assists, 8 digs), Hannah Rishel (1 ace, 9 digs), Kathryn Stambaugh (1 ace, 10 kills, 1 block, 2 digs), Karah Slow (10 digs), Laura Fahs (1 ace, 5 digs), Natalie Hawksworth (6 kills, 2 blocks, 2 digs).