Delone Catholic’s march to the PIAA finals highlighted last year’s girls’ volleyball season in the YAIAA. Can the Squirettes go on another long journey? We take an early look at the upcoming season in our latest in a series of high school previews:
PRESEASON TOP 5
1. Delone Catholic
3. Central York
5. South Western
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bayleigh Hoffman, Dover, Sr.
Cambria Wierman, Delone Catholic, Sr.
Hannah Lawrence, Delone Catholic, Sr.
Erin Harman, South Western, Sr.
Lauren Reichard, Eastern York, Jr.
DIVISION I BREAKDOWN
● Central York (14-5, 10-2) returns four starters from a team that lost Division I player of the year Hadley Swartz. The returning foursome includes junior Andrea Quartey and senior Alexis Biesecker, Erin Dobbeck and Naya Cheatem. The Panthers’ passing should be crisp. Dobbeck was an all-star setter last season.
● Susquehannock (13-3, 11-1) moved up to Division I last year and walked off as its champion. To repeat, the Warriors will have to do so without graduated all-stars Leah Deter, Rachel Moltz and Caroline Savin. Moltz led the Warriors in assists and aces, while Savin provided a 6-foot presence at middle hitter. Coach Rob Marrison should have Abigail Bentz and Beth Miller back in his lineup.
● South Western (14-7, 8-4) brings back seniors Erin Harman and Holly Arey. The Mustangs must replace their libero and setter from last season’s YAIAA tournament finalists, however. All-stars Sarah Bortner and Mariah Krumrine have graduated. Harman registered 250 kills, 42 aces and saved 271 digs last season. Sophomore setter Hannah McMaster and Katelin Willingham also return. The Mustangs have four starters back.
● What Dover (7-7, 6-6) lacks in size it should make up for with experience and talent. The Eagles return five of six starters, including two-time all-state senior Bayleigh Hoffman. She sets and hits from the outside and opposite spots in Dover’s sets. Hoffman led Dover in kills, blocks and aces in a rebuilding season. The Eagles played their first year without former co-coaches Barb Grady and Bobbie Strausbaugh following Grady’s death and a second battle with cancer.
Brett Hoffman took over as the program’s coach and got his team to a .500 record despite such a loss. This season, he also brings back senior outside hitters Alayah Hall and Kylie Foust. Hall starred last season at point guard on the school’s record-setting basketball team. Hoffman expects Hall to become a legitimate No. 2 attacker and strong defender. Senior Lauryn Messner will handle the setting, while junior Karsyn Blauser should see an increased role at middle hitter. The libero is open to a few players, including junior Jordan Crone.
● Spring Grove (5-11, 4-8) graduated a handful of experienced players, including Katie Baynum and Katie Mummert. Baynum earned All-YAIAA honorable mention, but so did Mia Bennett, who will be a junior.
● Dallastown (2-13, 2-10) took some bruises last season, but the Wildcats return half their starting lineup, including senior outside hitter Becca Flinchbaugh and junior setter Megan Clinton. Coach Shannon Werner likes her team because it’s “young and experienced.”
● Red Lion (3-11, 1-11) brings back senior outside hitter Marley Vebares, senior middle hitter Hayley Barto and junior setter Brooke Daugherty. Sophomore Rachel Groff also is slated to return.
DIVISION II BREAKDOWN
● York Suburban (10-5, 10-2) brings back a pair of senior all-stars outside hitter Kayla Gibbs and middle hitter Morgan Lehman. The Trojans graduated another outside hitter in Luci Billet, who also made the All-YAIAA first team last season in Division II. Gibbs and Lehman provide a well-rounded attack. Gibbs had 335 digs and 228 kills last season. She also had 39 aces. The Trojans also return junior outside hitter Maura Brehl.
● New Oxford (8-5, 8-4) is slated to bring back two All-YAIAA honorable mention players in Bonaire Berry and Alexis Hufnagel.
● At first glance, replacing Division II player of the year Lexi Rhein, an All-American, could make this season a challenge for Eastern York (9-7, 6-6). What helps the Golden Knights are four returning starters, including all-league middle hitter Lauren Reichard. A 6-foot-1 junior, Reichard should be a defensive threat in addition to her offense. She led the Knights in blocks and was their No. 2 hitter as a sophomore. The cast also includes senior outside hitter Erin Kalke, junior setter Lauryn Snyder, plus outside hitters Allie Crumling and Hannah Reichard.
● Northeastern (7-6, 7-5) returns All-YAIAA performer Maddie Reichard at the net but lost defensive specialist Natalie Seitz, who moved out of the district. Both were slated to enter their senior seasons for the Bobcats. Reichard registered 98 kills, 24 blocks and 27 aces. Overall, the Bobcats bring back three starters from last year’s team, including setter Holly Shoemaker and outside hitter Bayleana Sowers.
● West York (7-9, 7-5) returns juniors Dixie Miller and Alexis Harbold but graduated an all-league player in Lauren Fink.
● Although Kennard-Dale (5-11, 3-9) graduated All-YAIAA performer Jess Myers, four starters return to the Rams lineup. Among them, senior outside/middle hitter Marlaina McConnville, senior outside hitter/setter Olivia Pastelak, senior outside/rightside hitter Lauren Ciccotello and sophomore Katie Leftridge, who can play outside, rightside or set. The starting setter, senior Anna Clements, and libero, senior Julia Peters, also have experience.
● William Penn (5-16, 0-12) had an All-YAIAA performer last season in Jasmine Berry, who has since graduated.
DIVISION III BREAKDOWN
● Delone Catholic (27-1, 12-0) didn’t lose a match until last year’s PIAA Class AA championship. The Squirettes lost six seniors from that team, including Division III player of the year Allie Mondorff. Despite those depatures Delone returns six starters, beginning with a pair of seniors in outside hitter Cambria Wierman and libero Hannah Lawrence.
Both were all-state players a year ago. Wierman led the team in kills and aces. She was second in digs to Lawrence. They will be joined by juniors Maddie Comly on the right side and Cheyenne Altland. Comly was second in kills last year, while Altland led the way in blocks. Those factors have coach Jason Leppo thinking he might have as physical of a team he’s had at the net.
The question is, who will set them up? Both setters from last season are gone. That includes Mondorff, who generated 564 assists as a senior. Contenders to set include sophomore Sarah Senft, junior Kelly O’Boyle and sophomore Katie Laughman.
● York Catholic (9-7, 9-3) graduated two all-stars in Zandria Zielinski and Kathleen Farrell. The Irish do bring back juniors Natalie Stewart, an honorable mention All-YAIAA selection last year in Division III, and Meredith Beecher.
● Senior outside hitter Shelby Barnes led Hanover (11-7, 8-4) in kills and is one of five returning starters in the Nighthawks lineup. With Barnes, Hanover brings back middle hitter Rachel Kelly, setter/right side Renee Drawbaugh, libero Bri Staub and outside hitter/setter Steph Howard. All are seniors.
That experience has 10th-year coach Reagan Bitler confident in his team’s balance across the front, offensively. Defensively, his team should be OK, too, with Kelly. She led the way in blocks and solo blocks a year ago. Drawbaugh and Barnes are coming off All-YAIAA seasons.
● What Littlestown (7-7, 6-6) lacks in size it has in experience. The Thunderbolts return five starters from last season. Libero Amber Davidson is back after leading the team in digs a season ago. Middle hitter Taylor Nicol paced the Bolts in kills and blocks, while Lauren Slater led the way in assists and outside hitter Alicia Mosebrook topped the team in aces. All four are seniors.
● Bermudian Springs (9-8, 5-7) looks to dig past .500 in league play this year with honorable mention All-YAIAA outside hitter Madison Itterly back in its lineup as a senior. Sophomore middle hitter Madyson Whitcomb, a defensive specialist, also will be key for the Eagles, who open their season with defending league and district champion Delone Catholic.
● York County Tech (3-15, 1-11) graduated its top player from a year ago, Cheyenne Fulcher, meaning the Spartans will need a new anchor at middle hitter. They should have senior Lauren Bupp back. Bupp earned honorable mention all-league in Division III as a junior.
● Fairfield (1-11, 1-11) graduated one of its best players last year, Kayla Luckenbaugh, who was voted honorable mention on the Division III YAIAA all-stars. The Green Knights bring back team MVP Abby Blinn, a senior libero. Two other seniors, three-year player Alisha Kelly and setter Trisha Zimmerman, also return. Zimmerman missed most of last season because of injury but is coming off a successful club season. The setter position was handled by committee last year and should see more consistency from Zimmerman. Kelly, meanwhile, can set and hit but progressed the greatest on the defensive end. The middle position is open, but 5-foot-10 sophomore Morgan Reed should help at the net for new coach Autumn Weigle said.
MARK THE CALENDAR
● Central York vs. Susquehannock: Tuesday, Sept. 10 at Central; Thursday, Oct. 3 at Susquehannock.
● Delone Catholic vs. Hanover: Thursday, Sept. 12 at Hanover; Tuesday, Oct. 8 at Delone.
● YAIAA tournament: First round Monday, Oct. 21 at Dallastown; semifinals and finals, Tuesday, Oct. 22 at Dallastown.