DALLASTOWN – It’s been a whirlwind week for the State College boys volleyball team.
Friday was a continuation of that as the Little Lions made the trek to Dallastown High School for the second time in three days for the District 3 Class 3A tournament.
At least this time it was to face Central York in the championship match.
Despite falling in four sets to the Panthers, State College coach Kim-li Kimel was able to keep perspective on the week, which included an incredible win over six-time defending 2A champion Northeastern in Wednesday’s semifinals.
“I know these guys are invested and this was a special week,” the coach said. “We just talked to them about how proud of them we are. We were a six seed and ended up in the championship match.
“They’ve had 15 hours on the bus this week, and three matches. I think as a team we had to do more than any other team. Emotionally, travel, everything is stacked against you and we did a really good job embracing that.”
Central York earned another 3A district title, 29-27, 25-22, 24-26, 25-15, however, the night started terrifically for the Lions
State College (14-4), which enter next week’s PIAA tourney as the No. 2 seed from a power district, took an early lead against the Panthers, going up 12-6 in the first set.
Later, a Jeremy Bullock kill put the Lions up 21-16. However, Central York rallied for the next five points, three of which came from Matt Minkin.
Still, State College led 24-23, 25-24 and 26-25, but couldn’t put the set away.
“That was definitely disappointing because we have been in that situation before,” said Kimel. “I would love to have that setback. We played them really tough but just didn’t execute in the back half of that set. It’s frustrating.”
The Lions also led the second set, but the Panthers rallied. Senior Braden Richard recorded four kills in Central’s final 6-3 that captured the game.
Richard commented on his team’s comeback ability, which included Wednesday’s dramatic five-set win past Cumberland Valley after losing the first two games.
“In the beginning, we couldn’t maintain a lead. This has happened in previous games and we learned how to pick ourselves up,” he said. “I think we thought back to Wednesday when we lost those first two sets and we knew that couldn’t happen today. We fought and fought and eventually came out on top.”
The third set was State College’s turn to come back as the Panthers led 23-20, but the Lions rallied with a 6-1 run with two points from Tanner Kuruzovich and another from Bullock.
Kimel credited Bullock for his play, which included 13 kills, to go along with 15 from Kuruzovich. But the coach added that her team needs to improve upon defending players such as Richard, who drilled 33 kills.
“ It’s nice to have some balance within our lineup and I think Jeremy did exceptionally well for us tonight,” she said. “We have to be able to find an answer for some of these big hitters from across the state. They are so mobile and quick, from one pin to the next pin.
“We have to understand as a team that the way to manage that kind of offense is on the front end of that ball. It’s not by the time people are trying to block, it’s when we are serving.”
In the 2A title match played at Central York, Manheim Central, the 2018 runner-up swept York Suburban, 25-18, 25-21, 25-20.
Northeastern rallied from down one set to defeat Cumberland Valley in the 3A third-place match, 21-25, 25-10, 28-26, 25-22.
Hempfield needed five sets in the 3A fifth-place match, earning the final PIAA spot, 25-16, 22-25, 28-26, 12-25, 15-7 past Exeter.
Lower Dauphin topped Brandywine Heights for third-place in 2A. Both teams are in the state 2A tournament.