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Lady Warriors pull into second-place tie
To the untrained eye, it has appeared over the last three weeks as though the Warwick girls’ volleyball team is a better squad now than it was in its season-opener at Penn Manor. That hypothesis was put to the test last Thursday and the data from the experiment came back in the affirmative.
After being swept in the season-opener by Penn Manor, Warwick avenged the loss with a thrilling five-set victory in Lititz last Thursday. The Lady Warriors won the fifth set, 15-13, creating a feeling of vindication for the players and setting off a wild celebration for the Warwick fans.
The victory was the Lady Warriors’ sixth in their last seven matches, pushing their record to 6-2 overall. Their 5-2 record in Lancaster-Lebanon League play pulled them into a tie for second place in Section One with Penn Manor. Hempfield sits atop the section with an undefeated record.
Whether Warwick will someday end Hempfield’s perch among the undefeated is a hypothesis that must wait for testing on another day. But test results at this point prove the Lady Warriors are headed in the right direction.
"We are a very different team than at the beginning of the year," Warwick coach Jen Wanner said. "There was a learning curve for the underclassmen. We have straightened a lot of things out. Our seniors have shown strong leadership. Halfway through the season, we should be at this point."
The three seniors came through in spades against Penn Manor. Emily Buckwalter and Greta Weidemoyer led the offensive charge at the net with 17 kills apiece, but libero Abby Wenger came up with the match-ending point on an excuse-me overpass that fell harmlessly just inside the sideline as two Penn Manor players watched it fall.
Buckwalter also had a team-high 21 digs, while Weidemoyer added 14 digs, three serving aces and five blocks. Wenger and junior Tristan Booker served two aces apiece. Junior Gabby Yellets chipped in with four timely kills, while sophomores Callie Donmoyer and Gia Gruett each had one block.
As the line score indicates, the victory was a total team effort. But what goes unrecognized in the line score are the players who set up the Lady Warriors’ offense. That would be the setting combination of junior Sarah Rodgers and sophomore Alexa Mohler.
"Sarah and Alexa do a good job of setting up the people who can put the ball away," Wanner said. "That is so important to our offense."
Last Thursday’s match was a series of short scoring runs by each team that were almost always answered by the other team. After dropping the first set 25-21 to Penn Manor, the Lady Warriors roared back to take the second set 25-21. Penn Manor won the third set 25-19 and was one set from victory.
The crucial fourth set was back-and-forth, and Penn Manor took a 17-16 lead. A serving error gave the serve back to Warwick and behind the strength of two aces by Weidemoyer, the Lady Warriors grabbed a three-point lead at 21-18. Penn Manor mounted a short rally, but a serving ace by Booker pushed the lead to 24-20. Buckwalter finished off the victorious set with a kill and forced the match into a fifth set to 15 points.
The fifth set started with Weidemoyer asserting herself at the net. Weidemoyer blocked Division I-bound Lady Comets’ hitter Jessie Greenslade for a point, won a joust at the net for another point and then registered another kill. Warwick owned what seemed to be a commanding 6-1 lead. However, strong serving from Penn Manor quickly erased the deficit.
Another kill by Weidemoyer pushed the Lady Warriors back in front at 7-6 and then one of Yellets’ timely kills and two more by Buckwalter pushed Warwick in front, 12-9. Penn Manor tied the score, but another kill by Buckwalter gave the Lady Warriors the lead again at 13-12. Penn Manor tied it once again, but a Comets’ passing error and Wenger’s fortuitous overpass finished off the emotionally draining match.
While the Penn Manor win was the highlight of the week, it was not the only victory for the Lady Warriors. They swept Conestoga Valley 25-16, 25-16 and 25-18 last Tuesday, Sept. 25 at home. Buckwalter recorded another 17 kills, and Weidemoyer added nine. Booker served three aces and Rodgers served two more. Donmoyer recorded two blocks and Wenger led with five digs.With the two wins, the Lady Warriors have earned a 12th-place ranking in District Three. The top 20 teams in the District earn playoff spots.
Warwick ventured out of league play — and across the Susquehanna River — earlier this week to play Dallastown in York County. Results from that match on Tuesday will appear in next week’s issue of the Lititz Record. Tonight (Thursday), the Lady Warriors return to Section One play as they host McCaskey at 7 p.m. More LADY WARRIORS, page B-6