At the end of the 2019 volleyball season, the hottest rivalry going in the Lancaster-Lebanon League was between Hempfield and Warwick.
The Black Knights and the Warriors squared off four times that season, including a one-match playoff for the Section 1 title, and a week later for the league championship.
Warwick won the section. Hempfield took league honors.
After missing the entire 2020 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Knights and the Warriors picked up right where they left off two years ago, as they renewed their fierce rivalry with an outstanding match Thursday night in Lititz.
Jake Lobb had 15 kills, Dawson Forney, Ryan Charles and Colin Treibley also came up big time and time again in the front row, and Warwick rallied past Hempfield for a riveting 3-2 victory.
The Warriors (3-0 league) took over sole possession of first place in the Section 1 chase with the victory, by game scores of a wildly entertaining — and razor-close — 25-17, 21-25, 21-25, 25-21 and 15-13 in a nail-biter fifth and deciding set.
“Tonight was not going to define our season,” Warwick coach Nate Gajecki said. “If we were going to win, it would be a step in the right direction.”
After Thursday’s triumph, the Warriors are firmly headed in the right direction, much to Gajecki’s delight.
After spotting Warwick the first set, Hempfield (3-1) took back-to-back games to seize control, and the Knights were poised to clinch it in the fourth and hop back in the bus for the ride home to Landisville.
But Warwick took a 14-13 lead in the fourth and never looked back. Lobb had an ace for a 20-17 lead, and Forney, Lobb and Treibley had booming late-game spikes to close it out and force a fifth and winner-takes-all set.
Warwick never trailed in the finale; Forney’s ace gave the Warriors an 8-4 edge, and Lobb helped Warwick with three kills in crunch time, including the match-clinching drop shot.
“We talked about the importance of getting the lead in the fifth game, and then finishing it out,” Gajecki said. “Kudos to Hempfield for playing some really great defense there in the end. We know they’re going to battle us when we play over at Hempfield.”
The rematch is May 4 in Landisville.
“We did some really good things in the match,” Hempfield coach Mike Vogel said, “but Warwick did better things. They played better defense, and they were very disciplined. Give credit to Warwick; they played really well.”
Thursday’s first set featured nine ties, and Warwick finally broke through with a 7-0 blitz for a 21-15 lead. Forney had a kill and an ace and Charles had a spike during that spree.
Hempfield answered the bell quite nicely with consecutive 25-21 victories for a 2-1 lead. Ryan Givens dominated in the third game with five kills, two blocks and an ace, as the Knights never trailed. Chris Rivera’s spike closed out the third, but Warwick immediately punched back.
When the Warriors took a 13-12 lead in the fourth, it was Warwick’s first lead since an 11-10 cushion way back in the second set.
Givens had six blocks, Givens and Grant Lorelli slammed 15 kills apiece and Caden Bonner had 24 digs for Hempfield — which will join Warwick in the popular Bobcat Invitational at Northeastern York on Saturday.