WHS girls gain some revenge on Central
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
With the Warwick girls volleyball team trailing 15-8 to back-yard rival Manheim Central on Monday night and facing the danger of going to a fifth and deciding game, coach Jen Wanner called her troops together to deliver a message.
"I was just saying, ‘It has to start now. We’re going to run out of time if we don’t start to work,’" Wanner recalled. "We talked about just chipping away, holding onto the ball and setting our strong hitters in the right rotation."
Apparently, her words were heard.
The Lady Warriors (0-1 Section One, 1-1 overall) did go to work, rallying for a thrilling 32-30 fourth-game decision to clinch a 3-1 non-league victory in Lititz.
These two squads are no strangers to hard-fought matches when they get together. This marked the third straight year that they have battled on the court, and the Lady Barons (2-0 Section Two, 2-1 overall) prevailed in the first two meetings — by a 3-1 decision in 2011 and a 3-2 score in 2010.
"Manheim Central is kinda in our backyard and it’s close and we always have a lot of fans from both sides come," Wanner said. "I definitely think it’s a rivalry. It’s been a rivalry and it just continues to be so because every time we play them, we have these tight matches. Last year we lost in four or five. So it feels really good to beat them, especially in our home opener."
"I think it’s just two teams who are close district-wise and things like that, they know each other from being on club teams together and things like that," MC coach Laurie McClure said. "They’re friends and it’s just going to be one of those close games all the time. But I think they really had it out for us in the fact that we beat them last year and it’s just payback once in awhile."
The Lady Barons’ team looks much different now than it did a year ago after losing four senior players to graduation in setter Renee Wiegand, middle hitter Kaitlyn Gochenauer, opposite hitter/setter Hannah Metzler and outside hitter Megan Herr, all of whom are currently playing in college.
So far this fall, with a young squad on the floor, the Lady Barons have battled with some inconsistent play and Monday night was another example of that.
"We really have a young team," McClure said. "We really lost a lot of strength with our seniors. Our girls are starting to play club ball and things like that, but most of our power and our strength is coming from sophomores. Realistically, they’ve had maybe two seasons of club ball and then school ball … and you can really tell from games where girls just have the knowledge of where the ball is going to fall or where it’s going to be placed and our girls are just a step behind.We really lost a lot of strength with our seniors."
After Warwick took the first game 25-21, the Central girls answered 25-22 in the next one in a game in which the Lady Warriors had leads of 10-4 and 20-17.
"It’s just one of those momentum things," Wanner said. "I think sometimes we get too comfortable and it could be the lack of experience. We have a couple of girls on varsity who haven’t played varsity before, but we just get too comfortable and think that we’re going to just be able to have it handed to us. But no varsity team is just going to hand over free points."
But the WHS girls picked themselves up to prevail 25-16 in the third game to put themselves on the threshold of victory.
In the fourth game, Manheim Central snapped a 3-3 tie with an 8-3 run, as sophomore Evie Dunagan registered a couple of her team-high 15 kills.
Then following an ace by MC’s Julie Smith, one of her team-high three, which gave the Lady Barons their biggest lead, 15-8, Wanner quickly called a timeout.
"Manheim Central did a really good job of using our hands and they had a lot hits that were just kinda right off the hands and falling behind the block," Wanner said. "I kept saying to my girls, ‘You just have to be scrappy, scrappy, scrappy, scrappy, scrappy.’"
Scrappy they were, as senior Greta Weidemoyer scored on a push, sophomore Gia Gruett registered a kill and junior Sarah Rodgers served up an ace to cut the Lady Barons’ lead to 16-14. Weidemoyer finished with 12 kills on the night, second behind only senior Emily Buckwalter, who had 16. Weidemoyer also chipped in with a team-best two blocks.
Central continued to battle and Dunagan’s kill stretched their lead to 19-16.
"(Evie) really is (our go-to hitter) because she’s got the height, she can hit over some girls," McClure said. "I just don’t think our passing was right there to keep her on the net where she needs it to really crush the ball. But she still did some nice things tonight."
So did Buckwalter for Warwick, and her kill put Warwick up 21-20 for the first time since leading 2-1 earlier in the game. Overall, the Lady Warriors used a 6-1 run to go ahead 22-20, as MC seemed to start playing tentative while making several mistakes.
"I think it was just a little bit of frantic (play)," McClure said. "I actually threw a different lineup in than what we’ve normally been doing the first couple of weeks of season here. So that might have messed with them a little bit but I think they’re just still not confident in themselves and their teammates who they’re around. So there’s just those mental breakdowns."
The Lady Barons eventually pulled even at 24-24, and that was the first of seven ties as the two teams battled into bonus points.
"I just loved to see Sarah Rodgers, our setter, in the fourth game there just feeding our strongest hitters and feeding them and feeding them and feeding them," Wanner said. "We really rallied. I was really proud of them. We definitely played hard."
Both teams played hard, each seemingly refusing to lose, with players on both side of the net keeping points alive with nice digs.
"I wish they would play like that all the time," McClure said. "It’s been a battle this whole season of deciding if they’re a strong team and if they’re willing to play without fear and just go take a game here and there."
Finally, with the score tied 30-30, Buckwalter scored the go-ahead point for Warwick on a push, and then Weidemoyer’s kill ended the marathon victory.
Although the Warwick girls lost six seniors to graduation last year, Buckwalter and Weidemoyer are half of a solid corps of returning players, along with senior Abby Wenger and junior Tristan Booker. The Lady Warriors are also starting three sophomores in Gruett, Alexa Mohler and Callie Donmoyer.
"We have like the leadership and then we have the rookies," Wanner said. "So it’s kind of finding that balance and finding that flow, and I think as the sophomores become more comfortable with the pace of this game and raise their volleyball IQ and just learn those quick decisions at this level of play, I think we don’t have anywhere to go but up … I absolutely think that we have tons of potential. We just have to work on being consistent. We have players that can do everything. We have players who can play anywhere across the front row, we have different people who can set the ball, different people who can play defense, we have a lot of different opportunities to play people in different places."
Last Saturday, Warwick advanced to the semi-finals of the Dallastown Tournament. But following a power outage at the school, the Lady Warriors were declared co-champs with Eastern York, Central York and Dallastown.
Earlier in pool play, the Lady Warriors finished with a 4-2 record after splitting with Northeastern 1-1, defeating York Suburban 2-0 and splitting with Central York.
In the quarterfinals, Warwick handled Dover by a score of 25-14.
Last Tuesday, Sept. 4 in their Section One opener, Warwick dropped a 3-0 loss to Penn Manor, losing by scores of 25-19, 25-20, 25-20. Buckwalter had 16 kills in the losing cause, while Donmoyer added one block and Booker served a match-high five aces.
Manheim Central was also in action last Tuesday, outlasting host Ephrata by a 3-2 score (25-21, 21-25, 18-25, 25-15, 17-15).
The Lady Barons returned to the court on Thursday night, when the played another five-set marathon, this time prevailing by a 3-2 score (25-5, 25-18, 22-25, 17-25, 15-11) over Solanco in their home opener.
Dunagan finished with 21 kills and Logan Newcomer added nine blocks, helping Central survive after squandering an early 2-0 lead. Janae Nolt chipped in with two aces. More RIVALRY, page B-12