Delone Catholic wins District 3 Class 2A title
The day before playing for the District 3 Class 2A title, the Delone Catholic girls' volleyball team spent practice working on playing from behind.
Time and time again, head coach Jason Leppo ran the Squirettes through a drill where they simulated trailing by four. And time and time again, the players struggled to complete the comeback.
Faced with that same situation in the actual title match Saturday, the Squirettes came through.
Taking on York Catholic at Dallastown High School, the Squirettes came back from down seven in the third set to sweep the Irish by final scores of 25-10, 25-13, 25-22. It's Delone Catholic's 11th district title since 1985 and first since 2013. The team lost in the title match the past two seasons.
"Yesterday at practice, we didn't win the drill for literally 45 straight minutes," Leppo said. "We finally won on the last attempt. When they took a timeout (in set three), I heard one of the girls say, 'This is just like the drill.' It's just ironic.
"It made it really special because that was something we were really working on and struggling with 24 hours ago."
After two sets, it didn't seem likely that the match would come down to an exciting finish. Delone came out on fire, scoring the first seven points and outscoring the Irish by 27 in the first two sets. York Catholic scored consecutive points just four times during that stretch and seemed to be overmatched.
But the Irish put up a fight in set three, taking an 18-11 lead at one point. The Squirettes would storm back though, with Sydney Paulin serving seven straight points and Molly Raville registering the final kill.
Almost every member of Delone's lineup had a standout game. Claire Kaufmann tallied 15 kills, six digs and four blocks; Chloe Kindig dished out 36 assists and had six digs; and Karigen Emig finished with 11 kills and eight digs.
"I was definitely nervous but as soon as we got that lead in the first game and were playing really well, I wasn't," Kaufmann said. "It was a little surprising (to trail in set three) but we gathered ourselves and realized, 'We're up 2-0, let's go.'"
While Delone swept the Irish twice in the regular season, both Leppo and the players came into Saturday expecting a tight match. Both teams were missing multiple key players when they played last on Oct. 6, and the Squirettes have played enough district matches to know nothing comes easy this time of year.
The win also sent Delone back to the PIAA playoffs. The Squirettes first state game will be next Tuesday, though the opponent has yet to be determined.
"We've been kind of inconsistent lately and playing tight," Leppo said. "The way those first two games played out, this time of year you're never expecting to win games like that. I kind of prepared myself for five games like that third one. We just played pretty darn well."
While York Catholic's season ended short of the state playoffs, head coach Phil Autrey said it's good the team bumped up from Class 1A to 2A this year.
"Do I like playing the bigger programs? Definitely," Autrey said. "We really did believe we had a chance to win (the third) game but also the match. We've worked hard to instill that in them and hopefully going forward, next time we're going to get them."