Warwick girls clinch L-L playoff berth

By on October 17, 2012

Photo by Stan HallSenior Emily Buckwalter pushes the ball over the net for a point in Warwick's match against Hempfield last week.

There was one last hurdle to clear between the Warwick girls’ volleyball team and clinching their first trip to the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs in three years. At first on Monday, that hurdle appeared to be the size of a sidewalk curb, but then it quickly became more like a rock-climbing wall.

After easily winning the first two sets of the match, 25-14, 25-13, against host Manheim Township, Warwick found itself down 23-16 in the third set. With the Lady Blue Streaks revitalized and their home crowd finally finding something to cheer about, it looked like momentum had shifted so far against Warwick that Manheim Township would win and force a fourth set.

That was before the Lady Warriors put on their rock-climbing shoes.

As good teams must do, Warwick kicked into another gear at crunch time to score 10 of the set’s final 11 points to win 26-24 and crush any hopes Manheim Township had of an upset or a chance to earn its own playoff spot in the league playoffs. The victory assured Warwick a spot in the league playoffs on Friday. The loss ensured that the Lady Blue Streaks’ season was to end Wednesday night with their final regular-season match.

For Warwick, the final regular-season match was Wednesday at Conestoga Valley. Results from that match will appear in next week’s issue of the Lititz Record. The Lady Warriors’ season, however, will not end there. They will play a league playoff game Friday at a site and time to be determined today. The semifinal and final matches of the league playoffs will be played next Monday and Tuesday.

While the third-set deficit created a little more anxiety than the Warwick fans may have cared, it proved to be an opportunity for the Lady Warriors to show what they can do when the pressure is on. Warwick has qualified for the league playoffs and the PIAA District 3 playoffs. From here on out, there will be no easy matches. The matches will be much more like the third set on Monday than the first two sets. Warwick coach Jen Wanner feels her team is ready for that challenge.

"I’m really happy with where we are," Wanner said. "We are definitely peaking at the right time. It’s the end of the season and this is when you want to play your best volleyball."

Their best volleyball is what Warwick had to play in the final 11 points of Monday’s third set. Down, 23-16, Warwick scored the next four points as senior Emily Buckwalter recorded a kill and junior setter Sarah Rodgers came up with a big point as she blocked a Manheim Township kill attempt of a Warwick overpass at the net. The Lady Blue Streaks, however, won the next point and were one point away from winning the set at 24-20.

A Manheim Township hitting error gave serve back to Warwick as sophomore Callie Donmoyer rotated back to the server’s spot with the score at 24-21. The final five points were highlighted by Donmoyer serving two aces and senior Emily Buckwalter recording two kills on well-placed tips to complete the sweep that seemed so inevitable heading into the third set.

"The biggest thing is overcoming ourselves sometimes," Wanner said. "Case and point was that third game. But we pulled it together just in time to win the match. That’s big."

With the victory, Warwick is 10-3 overall and 8-3 in league action. Penn Manor has an identical league record, but if the two schools finish Wednesday’s action tied, Warwick will earn the second-place spot in Section One. Since the teams split their two matches, the tie-breaker is decided by District power rankings. Beginning this week, Warwick was ranked 12th in the District and Penn Manor was ranked 18th. The top 20 teams qualify for the District playoffs, which begin Oct. 25.

In the Lady Warriors’ win over Township, senior Greta Weidemoyer led the way at the net with 14 kills and Buckwalter added nine. Sophomore Gia Gruett added five kills. Weidemoyer and Gruett each added two blocks. Junior Tristan Booker recorded nine digs and Buckwalter added six. Buckwalter, Donmoyer and Weidemoyer each served up three aces.

The victory Monday helped take away the bitter taste Warwick experienced last Thursday as the Lady Warriors lost to Section leader Hempfield in straight sets 25-12, 25-17 and 25-15. Weidemoyer and Buckwalter led with nine and seven kills, respectively. Gruett added four. Weidemoyer and Gruett each recorded two blocks. Buckwalter and Weidemoyer each had nine digs and Booker added eight.

Earlier last week, Warwick swept Cedar Crest at Cornwall 25-13, 25-11 and 25-6. Buckwalter had 13 kills. Weidemoyer had nine, and Gruett had five. Weidemoyer recorded two blocks. Booker served five aces.

In non-league action over the weekend, Warwick finished tied for third in the Manheim Central Varsity Classic. In a tournament filled with highly-ranked schools from District Three, the Lady Warriors swept through pool play undefeated. In the semifinal round of the tournament playoffs, Warwick won the first set against Palmyra 25-18, but lost the next two sets 25-21 and 16-14 to be eliminated. More VOLLEYBALL, page B-7

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