Conestoga Valley vs. Hempfield- L-L Girls Volleyball

Conestoga Valley's Emily Kornacki (16) and Rebecca Hartranft (1) collide as they try to return a shot by Hempfield during Game 2 action in an L-L League Section 1 girls volleyball match at Hempfield High School in Landisville on Thursday, September 23, 2021.

Conestoga Valley trailed Manheim Township by eight points midway through the third set in Thursday’s District Three Class 4A girls volleyball match in Witmer.

But Becca Hartranft, a junior outside hitter, set out to change that.

Hartranft’s thunderous kill down the left sideline not only stirred her school’s student section into a frenzy, it also restored momentum to the Buckskins’ sideline.

And thus Conestoga Valley rallied, first getting within two points, then finishing on an 8-1 run to close out the set and the match, sweeping past Manheim Township 3-0 (25-14, 25-15, 25-23) and advancing to the District Three quarterfinals for the first time since 2009.

“It’s been a little while, apparently,” Conestoga Valley head coach Devin Moore said. “That’s when I was in high school, so it feels good to see the team put together a full match and get themselves a win tonight.”

Next up, No. 8 Conestoga Valley (11-4) will travel to play top-seeded Cumberland Valley at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, with a PIAA state tournament berth on the line.

Hartranft had a match-high 15 kills for the Buckskins. In the third, she answered a pair of kills by Township’s Faith McGowan (10 kills) to get within 20-16.

Later, a pair of kills by Madison Williams knotted the game at 23-23. A hitting error gave Conestoga Valley the lead before Katelyn Williams ended the match with an ace off the tape, setting off one final celebration from the Buckskins’ student section.

“We usually don’t have a student section,” Hartranft said. “It was really helpful with our game. It made it more fun to have a lot of people cheering behind us.”

Of course, the Buckskins likely wouldn’t have had home court advantage if they hadn’t been able to rally past ninth-seeded Township in the last match of the regular season.

“After that win we knew what we could do,” Hartranft said. “We played a really good game, and we just carried that energy into this match and did it again.”

The Bucks came out strong in the opening frame, pulling ahead 14-5 behind an ace from Rhiannon Henry before holding serve the rest of the way.

The second set featured several spirited rallies from both sides, each team making key digs and keeping the ball alive. They were plays that Conestoga Valley wasn’t able to make at the beginning of the season.

“The more we communicate,” Moore began, “we put ourselves in a better place to play balls, to dig balls and then we can turn around and go on offense.”

Senior libero Sarah Journey had 19 digs, setter Helena Carroll had 23 assists, Emma McGowan had two aces, and Maddie Boyer and Kendyl Peters had a block each for Manheim Township (10-7).

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