The Lancaster-Lebanon League boys volleyball semifinals are set, with the top two finishers from both sections set to square off Friday in Lititz with a trip to the title match hanging in the balance.
The semifinal winners will serve and volley for league gold on Monday at 7 p.m. at Cocalico.
Here’s previewing Friday’s semifinal showdowns …
THE MATCH: Section 1 co-champ Hempfield (11-1 league) vs. Section 2 champ Lancaster Mennonite (11-1), 5:30 p.m. at Warwick.
NOTABLES: Hempfield is angling for its third title in a row — the Black Knights won in 2019, pre-COVID-19 and then last spring, after the 2020 season was a washout — and 25th overall. Their 24 crowns are a league record, and the Knights KO’d Warwick in those two previous championship clashes. … Hempfield shared the Section 1 flag with Warwick, while Mennonite — which is riding a 10-match winning streak — captured its first section championship since 2012, fending off a pack of hard-chargers to win it outright. … Rematch alert: Hempfield downed Mennonite 3-0 in the league quarterfinals last spring. The league sliced its playoff field in half this spring, with a four-team bracket. … Defensive specialist Mason Orth and setter Caden Bonner make Hempfield tick, and pin-hitter Dante Keener is a vet swinger who will command defensive attention at the net. Also keep an eye on Cole Overbaugh and Parker Wolfe in the front row. … Mennonite is a balanced bunch, comprised mostly of soccer players who helped the Blazers win the district title on the pitch last fall. Hempfield simply must block Mennonite power hitter Elijah Lazor, a St. Francis University recruit and one of the most feared swingers in the league. … Hempfield rookie coach Kenny Eiser will match wits with Mennonite vet skipper Gary Martin in this scrap. … Hempfield is No. 8 in Class 3A and Mennonite is No. 8 in Class 2A in the PVCA state rankings. Both squads are ticketed for the district playoffs later next week.
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THE MATCH: Section 1 co-champ Warwick (11-1) vs. Section 2 runner-up Garden Spot (10-2), 7:30 p.m. at Warwick.
NOTABLES: After sharing the Section 1 hardware with rival Hempfield, Warwick now seeks its third finals appearance in a row. Garden Spot is in the league semifinals for the second year in a row, after the Spartans won the Section 2 title in 2021. They settled for silver this time around, and will get another shot at the Warriors: Warwick blanked Garden Spot 3-0 in last year’s league Final Four. … Warwick features a trio of go-to hitters at the net in Jacob Lobb, Landon Wenger and Kyle Charles, who has made a triumphant transition from full-time setter to big-time swinger. Adam Gingrich and Primo Campagna also help out up front, and Seth Graybill and Nate Wenger have been solid in the back for the Warriors. … All eyes on dangerous Garden Spot hitter Tanner Laukhuff in this showdown. He’s been unreal up front, and Warwick simply must defend him at the net. Derrick Lambert and Jethro Martin are two more front-row stalwarts for the Spartans, and Tyler Martin has made a seamless transition from libero to setter as the team’s quarterback and heartbeat. … Fun matchup between a couple of graybeard coaches here in Warwick’s Nate Gajecki and Garden Spot’s Ben Rutt. Gajecki is in his 18th season at the helm in Lititz, the longest clip among active L-L League coaches. … Warwick is No. 5 in the PVCA Class 3A state rankings, and the Warriors and the Spartans will set sail in the district tournament later next week.
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