It seems hardly fair that the District 3 girls’ Class 2A only gets one representative in the PIAA State Volleyball Championships every year while other districts get multiple seeds. Given District 3 had three teams – Delone Catholic, Trinity and York Catholic – all inside the state’s top-ten rankings, it seems triple unjust.
What this translates into is that teams must win the highly competitive District 3 championship to advance, and it becomes quite the pressure cooker to beat great teams in winner-take-all environments.
In the past decade, Delone Catholic and Trinity have both owned the title, winning gold in the District 3 finals before making a run at a PIAA state title, which both schools have won in recent years against stout western Pennsylvania foes on neutral courts. And the program that has been feeling the agony of defeat rather than the thrill of victory has been the Fighting Irish of York Catholic.
To be sure, their match at this year’s final on November 3 at York Catholic High School had enough tension in the air to forewarn that one team was going to go home very disappointed. Trinity dispatched of a very good Squirettes team from Delone in the semifinals two nights prior, and the way the Shamrocks began the championship match against the Irish, one got a sense that it would be the ’Rocks getting the thrill once again.
After dominating the first set, 25-14, Trinity took control of the second, leading 13-8 midway through. And after team leader Carly Everett went down with an awkward landing-leg injury, the Irish’s fate seemed sealed. But, tied at 22 after an Irish rally, the Shamrocks seemingly got tight and mishandled a few passes and a seasoned York Catholic squad stunned Trinity by winning the set’s last three points.
The Irish adjusted and completely shut down Trinity’s vaunted dink game and handled the ’Rocks hitting-game with superior dig efforts led by senior libero, Everett.
After Everett shook off her injury, the Irish’s momentum only grew in sets 3 and 4, which they won handily to capture the school’s first District 3 volleyball championship. It was a masterful turnaround to beat a Trinity squad that has had proven success on the district and state level during the past decade.
“We definitely had some nerves the first set,” York Catholic head coach Phil Autrey said after the game. One difference in the match was a home crowd and student section that was vociferous and encouraging to the home team, which had a positive effect for the Irish. In addition, Everett’s 29 digs on the defensive end of things clearly got the Irish’s heavy hitters going on offense, and Trinity was never able to adjust and block consistently.
“This is the best group of girls I’ve ever played with,” Everett said. “I did not want our season to be over.”
York Catholic easily won their first PIAA match and are now in the quarterfinals, where their bracket draw looks favorable to going deep to the finals on November 19 at Cumberland Valley High School.
(York Catholic/Trinity championship photos by Bob Chadderdon; Trinity/Delone semifinals photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness