November 7th District 3, Class 4A Finals:
DALLASTOWN — Cumberland Valley put up the block, but Hempfield simply wasn’t having it.
A balanced offensive performance by a cadre of players helped the Hempfield girls volleyball team prevail past defensive-minded Cumberland Valley 3-0 Saturday afternoon at Dallastown Area High School as the Black Knights earned their third-straight District Three Class 4A title.
It is Hempfield’s 14th district title in girls volleyball, breaking a tie with Delone Catholic for the most all time.
“We fought our hearts out,” outside hitter Camille De La Torre said. “Knowing that we added another number to the legacy that we have just makes it all that much better.”
Despite the sweep, top-seeded Cumberland Valley (15-2) posed a stiff challenge for No. 2 Hempfield (20-0). The Eagles held a lead midway through all three contested sets and kept things close before the Black Knights surged ahead.
Strong serves were the key, with seniors De La Torre, Nyah Smiley, and Joslene Morgan each recording aces down the stretch in the opening set, turning a 14-11 deficit into a 25-17 game one win.
“We really dug deep this time,” said Smiley, who contributed three of her eight kills in the opening set. “We came back in the first set and we served them deep, served them short, served them floating. That’s our strong suit.”
Morgan picked up her third ace of the match early in the second set, then proceeded to control the net with a trio of blocks and kills as Hempfield erased an 11-8 deficit to win game two 25-20.
Back-to-back blocks by Cumberland Valley helped the Eagles gain a 7-6 advantage in the third set, but kills from Smiley and Addison Leber (nine kills) quickly turned things around for the Knights.
“I saw that it was a cross-court block so I just really worked on going down the line because it was open,” Smiley said.
A kill from De La Torre (five kills, two aces) off the block and an ace from Allison Cummings (15 digs) gave Hempfield a 19-13 lead in the set. A kill by Leber made the score 22-18, but CV didn’t give in.
The Eagles forced a pair of lengthy rallies, yet the Knights held true with a duo block from De La Torre and Sarah Hess, followed by a tip-kill from Hess (four kills, three blocks) for match point, winning the set 25-19.
“We’ve done so many drills where it’s ball after ball,” De La Torre said. “Being able to calm ourselves and just play the game that we know, that’s how we ended it.”
Sophomore setter Melody Butzer added 22 assists and two kills for the Knights. Meanwhile, the senior class now has four league championships and three district titles under its belt.
“It means so much to us,” Smiley said. “Last year, our season was good, but all of us didn’t get to go on the court because of (the pandemic) and everything. So we really worked hard this year and really focused, because we really want this. We’ll see how far we get to go in states.”
Hempfield opens the PIAA Class 4A tournament vs. District One third-place team Unionville on Tuesday, site and time to be announced.