EMIGSVILLE — "They're the best team," was all that Northeastern boys' volleyball coach Matt Wilson could say about the Central York Panthers after Thursday night's York-Adams League showdown between two of the best teams in the state.
"They're not just the best team in York County, and I'll go on the record and tell you. They're the best team in the entire state. I have not seen anybody that can do what they do."
What 'they' did was put on a clinic against the defending PIAA Class AA state champions.
The Panthers controlled all three games played Thursday at Central York High School and rolled to a 25-14, 25-18, 25-20 triumph. The victory over the only other unbeaten school in the league heading into the night clinched the regular-season title for coach Brad Livingston's team.
While Central is known for having five attackers on the court who can put the ball away at any time, it was the Panthers' play on the defensive side that was quite remarkable Thursday. And that's something that Livingston and his coaching staff put a lot of effort into.
"We take great pride and really emphasize dig-to-kills," Livingston said. "We want to get the ball up and come right back at you and put it on the floor. And I would imagine we did that pretty well tonight."
The Central front line finished with 14 stuffs off a Northeastern attack that resulted in a point. One of the leaders in that category was Jeremiah Dadeboe, who led the Panthers, along with Jason Gardner, with four blocks.
"A brick wall," Dadeboe said of his team's effort. "We've been trying to implement our block all season and today it finally showed."
Dadeboe, who only picked up the sport a tad more than a year ago, was arguably the best player on the court. He finished with a team-high eight kills, which tied with Gardner and Landon Shorts, as well as a team-high 10 digs.
"He does very well," Livingston said. "It's amazing sometimes when, all of a sudden, he shows up and makes some dig-to-kills. He can do quite a lot."
Central, the No. 1 ranked team in Class AAA according to the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association poll, scored the first four points in Game 1 to set the tone. The Bobcats, ranked No. 2 in that same poll in Class AA, were never able to get any type of rhythm going, which forced Wilson to try to change things up all night.
While the changes helped in Game 2 and Game 3, which were a lot closer, the end result was something that clearly disappointed the veteran coach. Not even the thought of a potential rematch next Tuesday in the league playoff finals against Central perked Wilson up a bit.
"Right now I'm just hoping that we can claw back," he said. "I don't think we deserve a chance to step on the floor with them. Right now we don't deserve a chance to step on the same floor as them and that's where we are right now."
The Bobcats, who played without the services of all-state setter Luke Braswell, were led by Reese Devilbiss offensively. Devilbiss, just a sophomore, registered a game-high 14 kills, while teammate Casey Winand added five.
Setter Matt Schaeffer dished out 26 assists, while Philip White recorded four blocks for Northeastern.
Dylan Hose dished out 32 assists to lead the Panthers, while Anthony Savage and Shorts each tallied three aces.
Notes: Northeastern is hoping to have Braswell back in the lineup a couple of weeks from now in the District 3 playoffs. There is a chance, however, that he may be ready come Tuesday for the league semifinals and finals.
If that were to happen, Livingston didn't sound as if he would mind it one bit.
"Obviously when you lose a player like him, it makes a difference," Livingston said of Braswell. "I've kind of been amazed at how that team has been able to come together and fight through that. That's a good volleyball team right now and they don't have Luke playing. I don't know what it would be like if he were playing, but I'm sure it would be a battle royale."
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.