GREENCASTLE — Greencastle-Antrim got off to an excellent start against Spring Grove in a District 3 Class 3A girls volleyball semifinal match, taking a 2-0 lead.
But the Rockets began to impose their will on the Blue Devils and stayed on the gas to rally for a 3-2 victory in Greencastle on Tuesday evening, taking the deciding Game 5, 15-9.
That pushes No. 4 seed Spring Grove (15-4) into the championship match on Thursday, when it will host No. 5 seed Middletown (19-2), which bumped off No. 1 seed Berks Catholic, 3-0. Greencastle (17-2) will travel to Reading to face Berks Catholic (19-3) on Thursday for third place and a berth in the state tournament.
In the end, the Blue Devils had no answer for Alayna Zeigler and McKenzie Boyer, who worked the left side of the Rockets’ attack for 32 kills, 19 by Zeigler.
That factor turned out to be even more noticeable because Greencastle’s left-side hitter and leader in kills, Abby Eagler, was not able to play because of an injury. That left G-A’s attack from the left side inconsistent at best.
“They had some of the toughest serving we’ve seen this year,” Blue Devil coach Corry Eagler said. “So we were out of system quite a bit, and then it’s hard. We knew who their hitters were, but we didn’t get as many blocks on them as we needed.”
But Greencastle did enough to make it work for wins of 25-18 and 25-23 in the first two games.
In Game 1, the teams went back-and-forth with neither team leading by more than 3 points, until it was 16-16. Then Alaina Garling had two aces wrapped around a Spring Grove net violation for a 19-16 lead. The second of two service errors by the Rockets made it 21-18.
Then the Blue Devils scored 4 straight points on two kills by Lily Kauffman (she finished with 12), one by Brianna Woodring and the final point a kill by Mia Jones.
Spring Grove found its groove in Game 2 … for a while. The Rockets rolled to a 13-4 lead. After a kill by Masalyna Miller halted the run, Miller served for 6 consecutive points, including an ace and a kill for her.
Later in the set, with the Rockets ahead 23-21 on a kill by Zeigler, Greencastle won by scoring the final four points on a serving error, a long hit, a net violation and Kylie Kerns’ kill to end it.
“We had a nice comeback in that one, but maybe we celebrated a bit too much and weren’t ready for the next set,” Eagler said. “They got out to a lead again, and it seemed like they did a lot of that.”
Spring Grove took a 6-4 lead, then scored 3 straight points, and never led by fewer than 2 the rest of the way, en route to a 25-17 win.
The fourth set was similar, with the Rockets jumping ahead and the Blue Devils trying to rally. The only lead G-A had was at 11-10 on a kill by Miller, and the only other tie was at 14-14 on a kill by Emma Pool.
An ace by MacKenna McBride and a hitting error closed out the game, 25-21, which forced a Game 5.
The score in the deciding game was tied four times early, the last at 6-6, before Spring Grove pulled away after another Zeigler kill. Fittingly, Boyer scored a kill for the final point.
Eagler said, “We had only 9 service errors, which isn’t bad serving, but they seemed to come at kay moments. Our passing wasn’t the best, and since we were out of system we couldn’t run our middles like we wanted to.
“Last week we could stick to our game plan, but not tonight. Maybe it’s good. Maybe we’ll fight that much harder now to try to get to states.”
NOTES: The Blue Devils hit only .061 as a team and had 11 return errors … Miller and Garling had good all-around nights — Miller had 6 kills, 14 service points, 2 aces and 12 digs, while Garling had 10 points, 4 aces, 11 digs and 14 assists … Woodring had 11 points and 3 aces, along with 22 digs … Also, Wren Roberts had 24 digs and Kerns had 15 digs and 14 assists.