Central boys reach District semi-finals Barons qualify for States
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
No trophy was being awarded to the winners of Monday’s District Three Double-A boys volleyball quarterfinal-round winners, but that didn’t mean there weren’t some high stakes involved.
"Really, I feel like this is the pressure match," Manheim Central skipper Craig Dietrich said. "District Three qualifies four teams to States, so every team that’s playing on Wednesday (in the semis) has already qualified for States … So it’s pretty big stakes tonight, really. It’s win or go home."
Perhaps the 2nd-seeded Barons were feeling some of that pressure in game one, when 10th-seeded Fleetwood capitalized on MC errors to grab the inside track with a 25-22 win.
But Central righted the ship after that, and swept the next three games from the Tigers 25-16, 25-17, 25-18 to win 3-1 at Hempfield High School.
That punched the Barons’ (18-2) ticket to District Three’s Final Four, where they will face L-L League rival Lancaster Mennonite for a third time this season. The 3rd-seeded Blazers (16-3) advanced with a 3-1 decision (25-17, 18-25, 25-18, 25-22) over 6th-seeded Red Land (12-7) in the quarters.
"I think the pressure match is off," Dietrich remarked. "Now you can kinda come in Wednesday and may the best team win. If we play at a high level, we know we’re going to be that team. We’ve got to show up and play with energy and intensity because we know Mennonite is going to."
Josiah Hershberger (24 kills), Brayden Fahnestock (12 kills) and Luke Spang (10 kills) played with energy and intensity against Fleetwood, giving the Barons three players with double-digit kills.
"They really couldn’t stop Josiah and Luke Spang in the middle," Dietrich said. "They both had big nights and Brayden Fahnestock had a nice night on the right side. We had three nice solid options going all night."
In the first game, the Tigers had their game going, though, as they took an early 4-1 lead and led wire-to-wire for the early edge. Kemmerer paced Fleetwood with 10 kills and two blocks, and the Tigers also benefited from two players 6-foot-4 or bigger.
"We started out a little sluggish," Dietrich said. "We just didn’t play to our level the first game. The first game, we didn’t pass too well, we got a little bit predictable on offense. They made a couple of plays and we just made a lot of mistakes the first game. We missed some serves, swung at some balls out of bounds."
They eliminated those mistakes in the next three games, building double-digit leads in every one of them on their way to the victory. Nate Ginder chipped in with three aces for the winners.
"Really (after the first game), the second, third and fourth games weren’t overly close," Dietrich said. "We kinda got rolling a little bit better, the passing was a lot better in the second, third and fourth games. Serving was a lot more aggressive and we had a lot of free ball opportunities."
With the win over Fleetwood behind them, the Barons turned their attention to LMH in Wednesday’s semi-finals with a berth to the District championship match at stake.
"I really feel like, as a coach, (the quarter-final match) is the pressure match," Dietrich remarked. "Now can the kids relax and play high-level volleyball when it counts?"
More CENTRAL BOYS, page B-6