Barons’ season ends in State semi-finals

By on June 5, 2019
Manheim Central senior Brandyn Musser spikes the ball over the net for a kill in the Barons’ 3-0 win over District 12 runner-up Palumbo last Saturday in the State Double-A quarterfinals. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Manheim Central senior Brandyn Musser spikes the ball over the net for a kill in the Barons’ 3-0 win over District 12 runner-up Palumbo last Saturday in the State Double-A quarterfinals. Photo by Kirk Neidermyer

Down 2-1 in games, the Manheim Central boys had a three-point lead in the crucial fourth.

There was hope for the Barons.

But then York Suburban’s defense stepped up with a couple key digs.

It was a recurring theme on this night.

“That’s about as good a defense as I’ve seen played this year by any team,” Barons’ coach Craig Dietrich said. “It just seemed like no matter what we did, it wasn’t good enough most of the time.”

In the end, York Suburban pulled off a 3-1 win (27-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23) over Manheim Central in the PIAA State Double-A semi-finals Tuesday night at Red Lion Senior High School’s Ronald E. ‘Abe’ Fitzkee Athletic Center.

While the Trojans (17-3) advance to Saturday’s finals to play the Ambridge-Meadville winner, the L-L Section Two and District Three champion Barons ended their season with a 17-2 record.

It was just 11 days ago that these same two teams played for that District title, with Manheim Central prevailing in a 3-0 shutout (25-18, 25-21, 25-20).

This time, York Suburban was a different team.

“The way York Suburban was playing compared to the last time we played them, the level was just so much higher,” Dietrich said. “They were on a mission tonight and some of our hardest hit balls were brought right back over. So you’ve just got to tip your cap and say, ‘Hey, they played a little bit better defense than us,’ and I thought they blocked better than us this time around.”

The fact that the Barons’ passing game wasn’t as crisp also didn’t help their cause. And when York Suburban’s Declan Ridings and Nate Bowman put down back-to-back kills midway through the first, the Trojans took a 12-8 lead.

The Central boys battled back and tied it 15-all, and that was the first of eight deadlocks the rest of the first game, the final being at 25-25.

But Noah Chojnacki and Luke Babinchak swung for back-to-back kills to clinch a game-one 27-25 victory for York Suburban.

“I said to the guys after the first game, ‘We didn’t play well and we lost by two points,’” Dietrich recalled. “I thought if that result could have changed, we might be talking a little differently right now.”

Game two was again one of momentum swings, with the Trojans going up early 6-2, and then the Barons countering with a 5-0 run, capped by one of Mason Nissley’s team-high four aces and a York Suburban error, giving them a 7-6 advantage. Nissley also led MC with 28 kills.

From there, the Trojans went on a 10-3 surge and went ahead 16-10 on an ace by Harrison Perring, forcing Dietrich to call a timeout.

Manheim Central got back as close as 18-15, but the Trojans eventually closed out a 25-20 win to grab the driver’s seat, two games to none.

“I had in my mind that we needed to get one of those first two,” Dietrich said, “and the second one didn’t go near well enough.”

In the third game, the Barons took their biggest lead of the night up to that point when they went up 13-10 on back-to-back Trojan errors.

York Suburban answered and took a 17-14 edge on Babinchak’s swing, but two straight kills by Nissley started the Barons on a 9-2 run, and Brandyn Musser’s block put MC ahead 23-19. Musser also had a team-high seven digs.

The Trojans didn’t go away, however, and a kill by John Doll led them on a 4-1, closing the gap to 24-23. But Nissley’s kill sealed the Barons’ 25-23 victory and kept their hopes alive. Jeremiah Zimmerman led MC with 40 assists.

Those hopes were still alive and well when Nissley’s kill made it 6-3 in the fourth.

Later, with the scored tied 11-all, York Suburban scored the next four points and went ahead 15-11 on one of Nate Bowman’s team-high 17 kills. Bowman was one of three Trojan players in double figures in kills, along with Babinchak (11) and Ridings (10).

Manheim Central, though, battled back to tie it 20-all, and Darien Colburn’s kill kept the Barons close at 23-22. But the Trojans scored two of the next three points, and Bowman’s kill clinched the match for York Suburban.

“This team has grown so much,” Dietrich said of his players. “From March 6 or whenever we took the court, I don’t think anybody had us (doing) any of the accomplishments we’ve done this year.”

For seniors Musser, Nissley, and Ben Wolford, Tuesday’s match marked the end of a special high school career playing for the Barons.

“These three seniors have really stepped up this year and brought us to these lengths that really not many people thought were possible,” Dietrich said. “So all three seniors should hold their heads up high knowing that, hey, this was just a little rag-tag team out here and they grew into their job.”


Last Saturday, Nissley had 23 kills and two blocks to lead the Barons in a 3-0 shutout (25-19, 25-8, 25-16) of District 12 runner-up Palumbo in the State quarterfinals at Twin Valley High School.

Musser also chipped in with two blocks, and Blake Wagner led the defense with three digs.

“We get in those rotations where we know we can score points and we get those match-ups that we like to see, and when we’re on, we’re pretty tough to stop. I love those runs,” Dietrich laughed.

In all, Manheim Central finished with 13 aces in the match against the Griffins.

“When we served aggressively, we really controlled the match,” Dietrich said, “and I thought about the first 15 points, we were just kinda lollypopping and putting some easy ones over, and they hung around. And then all of a sudden, we started being more aggressive with our style of play and that really put (Palumbo) out of system and put us in a good position.”

Palumbo led 6-5 in the opening game on a kill by Jacob Espinosa, but the Barons answered with a 7-1 run and went up 12-7 on Musser’s block.

The lead eventually climbed to 20-11 on Nissley’s kill and MC went on to win the opener, 25-19.

Central then made an adjustment in their blocking game in the second, jumped to a quick 10-2 lead on an ace by Nissley and never looked back, cruising to a 25-8 victory to take command.

In the third, the Griffins took a 7-6 lead on a service error by the Barons. Later, Palumbo was still as close as 13-10 following a block by Jie Gao, Nissley had four straight aces in a 6-0 run by Manheim Central, then Logan Whitehouse’s kill stretched the lead to 19-10, and it was never close from there.



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