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MC boys advance in District playoffs
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
If there are other high school coaches like Manheim Central boys volleyball boss Craig Dietrich, they are often holding their breath leading up to games on Mondays.
More than once in their career, those coaches have seen their teams come out looking like they were still affected by the weekend break.
Fortunately for the Barons, they avoided that trap this week, as they shut out Schuylkill Valley 3-0 in their District Three Double-A first-round playoff match at Wilson.
Junior Josiah Hershberger recorded team-bests with 20 kills and six blocks, in addition to adding an ace, helping the Central boys oust the Panthers, 25-21, 25-17, 25-20.
"I thought we played really good," Dietrich said. "It was probably one of the more complete matches we’ve played this year."
One week earlier, the Barons were quite as consisted as they had hoped to be in a 3-2 loss to Manheim Township in the L-L playoff quarter-finals, but they stepped their game up against Schuylkill Valley to advance to Wednesday’s quarterfinal-round pool play.
"We were just a little bit sharper — on a Monday, sometimes it’s like a mixed back, you never know what you’re going to get," Dietrich chuckled. "But we had a nice walk-through for about an hour, received some serves, hit some balls, did a little bit of blocking, grabbed some dinner, got on the bus, and we were able to watch the match before us and kinda mentally settle in."
It didn’t take long then for the Central boys (12-5) to settle in against the Panthers. They took the lead in game one, weathered a run in which SV pulled within one, 12-11, and then put away the game one 25-21 victory.
"(Schuylkill Valley) wasn’t terrible by any means," Dietrich said. "They played really tough for about the first half to three-quarters of the first game. Not that were superior, but I don’t think they’ve seen a good quality team test them for a full match. And I think they just kinda ran out of gas and mentally, I think they saw some things that they didn’t see all year offensively from some of our guys."
One of those, of course, was Hershberger, who was a force at the net for the Barons.
"Three games, 20 kills — that’s nice numbers," Dietrich said. "You’re getting at least seven points out of him a game."
Robbie Lawyer and Nate Ginder chipped in with two aces apiece, as the MC boys took a 16-6 lead in game two and won 25-17 to grab a big two games to none lead.
Schuylkill Valley then pulled within 19-16 in the third game, but got no closer, and the Barons put their win in the books with a 25-20 decision. The Panthers never scored more than three consecutive points against MC’s defense, which was led by Shawn Sauder’s 13 digs.
After falling to the Blue Streaks in the L-L League playoffs last week, the Barons found themselves staring at a long layoff, but they were able to avoid playing with rust against Schuylkill Valley.
"What a difference a week makes, I guess, huh?," Dietrich said. "I think, especially at this point in the season, you’re conditioned to go, go, go and when you have a layoff like that, as a coach you kinda think, ‘What’s our mentality like?’ We try to separate things into four seasons. One, the regular season. The Lancaster-Lebanon League (playoffs) is a second season, District Three is a third season and States is the fourth season. And I think the guys have done a good job so far with separating those seasons. The first two haven’t necessarily gone the way we would have liked. We’ve run into some good teams, but I think going forward here, we have an excellent opportunity (Wednesday), in my opinion, to come out."
The Barons were slated to compete at Pool B at Dallastown yesterday (Wednesday) against York Suburban, Red Land and Wyomissing. Dietrich said that York Suburban is hands-down the best team in the District, but the key for the Barons will be defeating Red Land in their second match.
"(York Suburban) is head and shoulders above everyone right now," Dietrich said. "The second match of the day, we play Red Land and that will be the match we’ve got to win to get out (to the semi-finals). They’re very similar to Manheim Township. They’ve got one guy that does everything, so we’ll see what we’ve learned from that match last Monday against Township."
If the Barons do indeed grab one of the top two spots in Pool B, they will not only reach the Final Four of the District Three Double-A playoffs, but also clinch a berth at States.
"We just want to advance at this point," Dietrich said. "That’s really what it’s all about and getting to that semi-final round, and hopefully we’re playing our best volleyball Wednesday and Friday." More MC VOLLEYBALL, page B-5