The only thing standing between Hempfield and an unprecedented 18th Lancaster-Lebanon League girls volleyball championship is a group of surging Bears.
The Black Knights and Elizabethtown both secured spots in the title match during a semifinal doubleheader Monday night at Garden Spot.
Hempfield swept Garden Spot 3-0 (26-16, 25-15, 25-18), while Elizabethtown did the same to Manheim Township (25-13, 25-16, 25-23), setting up a meeting in the championship match at 7 Wednesday night at Manheim Township.
The unbeaten Knights (16-0) kept their perfect league season going and have not dropped a set since doing so in last year's L-L final to Garden Spot.
“This was a big one for the girls because last year we dropped our only set of the leagues to them, so they had a little extra motivation to go out and win 3-0,” Hempfield coach Andrew Olree said.
Hempfield never trailed in the opening set, jumping out to a 4-0 lead before eventually building a 22-12 advantage.
The Spartans led briefly, 4-3 in the second, but Hempfield broke a 9-9 tie by winning six of the next seven points and closed the set on a 16-6 run.
Again, Spot had an early lead in the third, but the Knights came back and controlled the rest of the match, before finishing it off.
“We played pretty well,” Olree said. “When we pass well, that's when we're at our best because we have so much offense at every spot.”
Jailene Lugo had a team-high eight kills, while Rachel Sipling added seven, combining for nearly half of the Knights’ 32.
“I think we're playing really well right now,” said Hempfield's Kylie Ulrich, who had six kills, three blocks and two digs. “We're right where we want to be.”
Logan Martin, meanwhile, had nine of Garden Spot's 21 kills.
“I'm proud of them,” Spartans coach Lauren DiPiano said. “They executed the plan I had. Today, we didn't pass very well and we gave them too many opportunities to get points and against a good offense like Hempfield, they're able to put balls away.”
Elizabethtown, the second seed from Section Two, rolled through the Streaks in the opening set. The Bears led 15-12 before scoring 10 of the final 11 points to close it out.
Township was ahead 13-11 in the second before Elizabethtown ran off five unanswered points and never looked back.
“The first two we won pretty handily,” Elizabethtown coach Jenna Griest said. “I told the girls before the third they're not just going to walk out of the gym, they're going to give us a fight and they did.”
The Streaks led 22-19 and 23-22 before the Bears scored the final three points to earn their shot at the Knights.
“For this season, we've been a little bit up and down,” Griest said. “Here at the end of our season, we've strung four good matches together and I feel like we're trending in the right direction heading into the league finals.”