Central York volleyball wins thriller
It may have taken more than two hours to get it done, but at the end of the night the Central York girls' volleyball team had punched its ticket to the District 3 Class AAA final and earned a spot in the PIAA tournament.
In front of a raucous crowd at Dallastown, the Panthers beat Cumberland Valley in five games, 19-25, 25-16, 25-22, 22-25, 16-14.
"I'm kind of speechless right now," Central York head coach Nate Ocasio said, adding he couldn't remember the last time Central had reached the final."We knew we had something special going on around midseason. It's a great group of girls.
That year was 1984.
Central will play Hempfield, who won the other semifinal in convincing fashion with a 25-20, 25-14, 25-15 victory against Garden Spot, in the championship game at a time to be announced Saturday at Dallastown High School.
The Eagles cruised in the first game, 25-19, before Central flipped the script to win the second game, 25-16. The Panthers won again in the third game, setting up a dramatic fourth game.
The squads went back and forth, tying 12 times before Cumberland Valley broke a 21-21 tie by closing on a 4-1 run.
"We know we're a good ball control team so we knew we could play with them ball-control wise," Ocasio said. "Offensively, they (Cumberland Valley) have a lot of good players so we knew they were going to get the kills. But we just had to understand that when they get a big kill, it's just one point. So the message was to move on and focus on the next one."
Central's Emily Poole, who finished with 22 kills, added three kills in the fifth game, then an Emma Saxton point tied the game at 13.
Saxton finished with 36 assists. The Eagles were within a point of victory, 14-13, but the Panthers called a timeout, then reeled off three straight points to claim the win. What was the message in that timeout?
"I told them to just play every point," Ocasio said. "Don't think about the big picture, just focus one point at a time and that's the goal. We try to win one point, then score in bunches. That was the message and they did just that."
Hannah Rishel drew applause several times with big play after play on the defensive side for Central York, and finished with 29 digs.
"She has been awesome during the whole district run for us," Ocasio said. "We're getting a ton of great play from our defense right now.
Central York 3, Cumberland Valley 2
(19-25, 25-16, 25-22, 22-25, 16-14)
Cumberland Valley stats
- Emily Nesgada (1 dig, 6 assists), Emma Grever (9 kills, 3 blocks), Stephanie Neast (6 aces, 10 digs, 15 kills, 3 blocks), Peighton Wright (1 dig, 9 kills, 3 blocks), Abby Smith (1 dig), Julie Nightwine (5 digs, 45 assists, 1 block), Bianca Harbold (3 aces, 22 digs), Autumn Otto (12 digs, 6 assists, 11 kills, 4 blocks), Devin McCarrell (5 kills, 1 block).
Central York stats -
Allison Rife (10 kills, 1 dig), Ashely Gallagher (5 kills, 2 blocks, 13 digs), Emily Poole (22 kills, 2 blocks, 5 digs), Emma Saxton (1 ace, 2 kills, 2 blocks, 36 assists, 11 digs), Hannah Rishel (1 ace, 2 assists, 29 digs), Kamryn Stambaugh (3 aces, 4 kills, 5 blocks, 3 digs), Karah Slow (8 digs), Laura Fahs (1 ace, 1 assist, 19 digs), Natalie Hawksworth (2 kills, 1 block, 2 digs).