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Warwick prevails over rival Manheim Central
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Warwick’s Alexa Mohler picked her spots on Monday night.
Turns out she had great timing.
With the Lady Warriors volleyball team holding a 2-1 lead in games, but trailing 20-16 to Manheim Central in the fourth, the junior setter had a couple of well-timed tips which hit the floor.
The second of those snapped a 21-21 tie and helped the Warwick girls close it out on a 4-1 run, clinching a 3-1 non-league victory (25-21, 25-12, 15-25, 25-22) between back-yard rivals in Manheim.
"It’s something that she doesn’t do a whole lot of and I talked to her about it that, ‘When you’re tight, you can always just help it over a little bit and keep them on their toes,’" Warwick coach Jen Teale said of Mohler, who also had a match-high 35 assists. "I was happy with those choices that she made because both times, she caught them off guard and it was two big points for us late in that fourth game."
The win improved Warwick’s early-season record to 2-0 overall (1-0 Section One), while the Lady Barons (2-0 Section Two) fell to 2-1.
In typical fashion when these two teams meet, very little came easy. Two of the four games were decided by four points or less.
"We always have a good rivalry with them," Teale said. "It’s a big win. I think it’s good for us to be working for our wins because even though this is a non-league match for us, it prepares us because when we play bigger teams – when we play the Hempfields, when we play the CV’s, when we play the Penn Manors, when we get to the playoffs – we need to be able to play long games, long matches that last."
Manheim Central coach Laurie McClure added, "There’s always that rivalry between Warwick and us just because we’re close and we play them every year and we see them in Leagues and so it’s one of those matches where you want to come out strong."
Manheim Central did that in game one, battling back from an early 4-1 deficit to pull even at 8-8 on a Warwick error. But freshman Riley Derr’s kill put the Lady Warriors back in front. Later, the advantage mushroomed to as many as six, 21-15, behind junior Callie Donmoyer’s tip, one of Sarah Rodgers’ team-high four aces, and back-to-back kills by Derr and senior Gabby Yellets.
Derr was one of three freshmen who played in the match for Warwick – the other two being Jensen Burnheimer and Alyssa Jones – and all made an impact.
"They have grown leaps and bounds, just with their confidence and just being able to swing, being able to hit the ball, seeing the court better," Teale remarked. "The freshman class is a game-changer for us. They’re doing a great job."
Central, though, didn’t go without a fight, as they battled back to 21-all. But Warwick ended it with four straight points, the last two coming on back-to-back Lady Baron errors.
"Right now, we’ve just been up and down a lot," McClure said. "Warwick is obviously a strong team and things like that. But I think it’s all about us right now and what we’re doing versus what other teams are doing against us."
Heading into game two, the Lady Warriors capitalized early on their momentum, again jumping out to the early lead. In fact, Warwick never trailed in either of the first two games, and when money player Gia Gruett had back-to-back kills, the Warwick girls pushed their advantage to 7-3. Gruett led the team with 15 kills and two blocks, while Yellets chipped in with five kills.
"The nice thing about Gia is she can hit any ball, anywhere on the net," Teale said. "So we run her outside, we run her back, we run her middle. I feel like blockers key on her and then we can kick it out to a freshman, or Gabby Yellets on the outside had a bunch of kills tonight hitting high. Our kills were pretty spread across our team, which is good."
Following a kill by Central’s Evie Dunagan, who had a team-high 13 on Lauree Wiegand’s team-best 18 assists, Warwick quickly opened up a double-digit edge, 14-4, and cruised to the 25-12 decision.
Things followed a similar pattern early in game three, with Warwick going up 6-2. This time, however, was different. Central junior middle hitter Brooke Witmer got a hot hand with two kills and a block, tying it 8-8, and then a series of Warwick errors enabled MC to take it first lead of the night at 12-10.
Improved serving by the Lady Barons was a key factor for them in the third game.
"Obviously, one of our goals is to serve so that we get teams out of system and things like that," McClure said. "That is a difference. It’s just the girls making that choice and that valiant effort to actually serve aggressively rather than coming out scared and nervous and thinking they have to get it in play. There’s that fine line between being aggressive and not making errors, and playing safe. They knew it was do or die at that point and I think they decided to actually turn it on and do what I asked them to do."
Warwick was within four points, 18-14, following a Manheim Central service error, but the Lady Barons closed it on a 7-1 run to win 25-15, capped by one of Witmer’s team-high four blocks.
With Central looking to continue its comeback, they rallied from a 12-11 deficit in game four with a 5-1 run, including a kill by Dunagan and an ace by Jasmynn Reksid. The Lady Warriors tied it 16-all, but the MC girls answered with the next four points, capped by Witmer’s ace, to make it 20-16.
But Warwick answered on Jones’ kill and Mohler’s tip, propelling them on a match-ending 9-2 run to clinch the 25-22 win. Tristan Booker played a key part in Warwick’s win with 16 digs on defense.
"It not only is a good victory because I think it feels good to win when you really have to work for it," Teale said. "It’s good for us mentally, especially as that young team – half of us are freshmen, half of us are returning players. It’s good to see that composure and just seeing the team come together for a win like this."
McClure believes, too, that her team will come together and be competitive in the Section Two race.
"I really do (have high hopes)," McClure said. "I think they can challenge a lot of teams in the Section and our league even to go into Districts. Last year, we were ranked number seven, so I’ve given them the goal that we need to stay at that, if not higher, and I truly believe that they can."
Last Thursday, Dunagan recorded a team-high 20 kills and chipped in with two aces, leading Manheim Central in a 3-1 win (25-15, 23-25, 25-14, 25-18) over Solanco.
Wiegand added two aces and 32 assists, while Witmer finished with four blocks and Sarena Greiner helped out with 26 digs.
More VOLLEYBALL, page B-5