WEST GROVE >> La Salle battled right to the end on Saturday, ascending to a level it hopes to get back to – and surpass – in years to come.
“It was a good one. We can’t be mad after that,” said the Explorers’ Dan Van Thuyne, who helped lead a spirited comeback attempt against Central York. “Record season for La Salle. We couldn’t be happier. We knew it was gonna happen at the beginning of the season and we knew this year was our year. We made it happen.
“It’s gonna happen again next year. Only they’re gonna win this one.”
After falling 25-17 and 25-19 in Games One and Two, La Salle nearly forced a fourth game against the Panthers, upset winners over powerful North Allegheny in the opening round of states. Central York made one final push though, prevailing 25-23 and winning 3-0 in the PIAA-3A Quarterfinal out at Avon Grove High School.
Still, the loss didn’t diminish the Explorers’ season, which included its first ever appearance in the state’s elite eight.
“We switched over to a five-one. We were getting a little shaky with the three-one,” Van Thuyne explained of Saturday’s match. “We got to fully utilize our hitters, and those guys were dominant. Our back row really took a strong voice in telling our blockers what to do. We had a lot of communication and good leadership..”
Many heroes emerged for the District 12 Champs.
“Sam Johnsson, Owen Huy…Colin Broderick – he had a ‘Michael Jordan flu game’ today. He was a monster,” praised Van Thuyne. “(William) Keffer got in there and really put it away. Everyone had a big moment.”
Van Thuyne, Huy, Broderick were all part of a group of 10 seniors that helped pave the way the last four years for La Salle. Johnsson and Keffer are two of the five juniors that will look to take La Salle a step further next season.
The Explorers had a tremendous run in Game Three to close to deadlock things at 20 apiece.
The Panthers continued their push though, keyed in part by libero Ryan Roberts. Central York advances to the state semis Tuesday, to take on either Canon McMillan or Shaler.