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Eagles rally to beat MC in District semi-finals
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
The Manheim Central boys expected Dover’s Ryan Lamparter to get his share of kills last Friday.
But when Tyler Lehman started inflicting damage late in the match, the Barons task became a lot tougher.
Ultimately, the Eagles rallied from a 2-1 deficit by taking games four and five and they defeated the Central boys 3-2 (21-25, 25-18, 22-25, 25-11, 15-9) in the District Three Double-A semi-finals at Central York High School.
"I think really what happened is Dover stepped their level up a little bit," MC coach Craig Dietrich said. "We felt like we had a little bit of an advantage on defense, especially when Lamparter was in the back row. We tried to make him work and do everything, and I think at first he was a little uncomfortable. And then he and Tyler Lehman kinda got into a good rhythm, where both of those guys were shouldering a lot of the offense and receiving a lot of the serves."
While Dover advanced to the District finals, where they suffered a 3-0 loss to York Suburban, Manheim Central faced Northern in a PIAA seeding game and dropped a 3-0 decision, giving them the number four seed from District Three.
Early on against the Eagles, however, the Barons got the upper hand while trying to reach the District finals for the first time since 2009, when they lost to Northeastern. Nate Ginder served for one of his two aces, Josiah Hershberger put down a couple of kills, 15 added a big point and Robbie Lawyer dropped in an ace, as the Barons darted to a quick 9-2 lead in game one.
"Our guys know that when we play and when we practice, we always focus on the first 10 points of the game," Dietrich said. "When you think of that mentality, every time that we had that 6-4 or 7-3 or greater lead to start off a game, we finished those games, even going back to pool play. That’s how we won matches that we needed to win — we jumped out to a nice lead and we’re a good enough team, just like any other team here, that we can preserve a four or five-point lead."
Dover eventually got as close as two, 19-17 and 20-18, but Brayden Fahnestock eventually put away a kill on match point to preserve the Barons’ 25-21 game one victory.
The Eagles then turned the tables in game two, as they rode early winners by Lamparter and Brendan Warren to a 6-1 lead. Manheim Central was never able to score more than two points in a row in that game, and although the Barons were within four as late as 18-14, Lamparter’s kill capped a 25-18 win for Dover, evening the match 1-1.
"That’s a credit to (Dover)," Dietrich said of his team’s inability to put together a run. "I think they played a little bit more solid. They were a little bit up and down in the first game and we were able to take advantage of that. It gave us a little bit of confidence and then they pushed back a little bit and took control of (game two)."
Overall, Lamparter and Lehman finished with 20 and 19 kills, respectively, and Lamparter added a team-best four aces to lead the Eagles.
But the Barons pushed back in game three, with Luke Spang’s push providing them an early 4-0 cushion. The Eagles twice battled back to tie it, 8-all and 10-all, but Ginder’s ace gave the Barons their biggest lead at 21-15. Lamparter brought Dover within two points on three different occasions — 22-20, 23-21 and 24-22 — but Fahnestock’s kill finally put the Barons’ 25-22 win in the books, giving them a two games to one lead.
Hershberger paced Manheim Central with 31 kills and seven blocks, while tying Ginder with two aces apiece. Shawn Sauder led the defensive effort with 16 digs and Lawyer piled up 51 assists from his setter’s position.
But the Barons were forced to play from behind wire-to-wire in game four, with Warren’s kill giving the Eagles an early 8-2 advantage. MC made it interesting at 8-5 on a block by Hershberger, and then Spang’s block got the Barons within five, 13-8. But with Central’s offense not clicking, they were providing the Eagles with too many free possessions, and they capitalized and finished the game on a commanding 12-3 run, clinching a match-tying 25-11 and forcing a decisive fifth game for all the marbles.
"Lamparter started to hurt us with his serve there in the fourth game," Dietrich said. "He’s a great ball player. That, and I don’t know if we just tightened up a little bit. I don’t know if we just didn’t trust our skills so much. We weren’t confident receiving the serve in the fourth game and we got off to a bad start and that just kinda spiraled a little bit. We just weren’t able to come back from that … We just couldn’t get that spark that we needed."
Unfortunately for the Barons, they got off to another tough start in the fifth game. Hershberger’s kill had the Barons within one, 3-2, but then Ean Julius led Dover on a 5-1 run which pushed the Eagles’ lead to 8-3.
"When you’re in this type of atmosphere, there’s four of the best teams in the District, and we knew it was not going to be a sprint. We knew it was going to be a marathon," Dietrich said. "And just because you win the first game or the first two doesn’t mean necessarily anything. Volleyball is a big game of momentum and when both teams had it, both teams were good. But when we didn’t have it, you saw an equally good volleyball team run with it, and when you give up three, four points in a row like that, it’s very hard to come back when both teams are playing at a high level."
Central did come back a bit with three straight points of its own, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 8-6 on a block by Fahnestock. But then Lehman got the hot hand for the Eagles, putting away two kills, a push and an ace which ran Dover’s lead to a commanding 13-8. Austin Good’s point kept Central’s hopes alive, but the Eagles answered with back-to-back points to seal the deal.
"I just want the guys to succeed so bad for themselves. I’m not disappointed in them, I’m disappointed for them because the guys work really hard, as evidenced, they leave it out on the court," Dietrich said. "I said to them, ‘Game five, let’s go out and leave everything out on the court and we’ll have a good chance to win. But if we don’t, let’s go down saying that we gave it our best.’ And you know what? If we’re going out and being aggressive, that’s really what I’m looking for in a game five like that. It’s the team that’s going to be more aggressive that’s usually going to win. And I think they got off to a little bit better start, and how aggressive can you be when you’re down 8-4? I mean, you’ve really got to be overly aggressive or conservative at that point."
In the end, Dietrich tipped his hat to the Eagles.
"I wouldn’t say we relaxed," Dietrich said. "We had that opportunity in game four, being in the same situation last year where we were up 2-1 on Mennonite (in the District semis), and we had those opportunities to close it out and Dover stepped it up. I would say credit to Dover. I thought they played at a pretty high level for an extended period of time there and we didn’t … They’re a nice ball club. I still feel like we’re a better ball club all-around than they are. They won, so hopefully the opportunity comes around that we get to play them again. We wanted to win at least the first match to get into the medal round and now we realize we’re not going to get that. But the kids know, ‘Hey, let’s win one match today and it can still be a good day.’"
Unfortunately for the Barons, they weren’t able to get that one win, as Northeastern won two games by four points or less while sweeping the Central boys 3-0 (25-21, 25-15, 25-22) in the consolation match on Friday at Central York. Hershberger recorded 15 kills and Spang chipped in with five blocks to help lead the Barons in the losing cause. Ginder and Brayden Fahnestock each finished with one ace and Sauder added seven digs on defense. More MC VOLLEYBALL, page B-3