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BLOG: Ex-York-Adams stars face off in college battle

Steve Heiser

It's no secret that the York-Adams League is a boys' volleyball hotbed in Pennsylvania.

Northeastern, after all, is coming off four straight PIAA Class 2-A state championships. The Bobcats finished the 2016 season at 23-0 and were ranked No. 1 in Pennsylvania and No. 4 in the nation by MaxPreps.com. The entire six-man Northeastern starting lineup earned all-state recognition last season.

Northeastern High School graduate Stephen Braswell had seven kills and seven digs on Friday against Penn State. Braswell is shown here in a file photo.

The Bobcats own seven PIAA state titles in total.

Northeastern, however, is not alone among York-Adams schools earning state crowns. Central York owns six PIAA championships, the most recent coming at the 3-A level in 2014. New Oxford, meanwhile, has one state title, back in 2005.

If that impressive history is not enough to convince you about the excellence of local boys' volleyball, well then you should have been at University Park on Friday night when Penn State played host to Saint Francis (Pa.) in a battle of two of the better men's college volleyball teams in NCAA Division I.

No less than three former York-Adams standouts were on the court at the same time, and all three made major impacts.

Central York grad Royce Clemens and Northeastern grad Luke Braswell, who are both ranked nationally in major statistical categories, helped No. 13 PSU down Saint Francis, 25-21, 25-20, 25-18. Luke's brother, Stephen, just happens to play for Saint Francis.

Central York High School graduate Royce Clemens (6) had eight digs on Tuesday to help Penn State upset No. 1 Ohio State.

It was the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association debut for both teams. PSU is 6-4 overall, while Saint Francis fell to 4-6.

Luke Braswell finished with 35 assists and six digs to lead the Nittany Lions. Clemens added seven digs and three assists. Stephen Braswell collected seven kills and seven digs for Saint Francis.

For the season, Luke Braswell leads PSU with 399 assists, while Clemens leads the Lions with 100 digs. In the latest NCAA Division I men's volleyball statistical leaders, Luke Braswell was No. 9 in the nation in assists per set at 10.4, while Clemens was No. 5 in the nation in digs per set at 2.66. Luke Braswell is a 6-foot, 4-inch redshirt freshman setter, while Clemens is a 6-1 redshirt sophomore libero. Clemens was the EIVA Newcomer of the Year in 2016.

Stephen Braswell is third on Saint Francis in kills (107) and digs (56). Stephen Braswell is a 6-2 redshirt junior outside hitter, who was an All-EIVA First Team selection a year ago.

Luke Braswell

This is at least the second time this season that three former York-Adams standouts met on the court in an NCAA Division I match.

In late January, Penn State lost to No. 1 Ohio State in Columbus, 25-16, 25-22, 25-16. PSU has won three straight since that loss.

The Buckeyes, who are 10-0 on the season and have won 33 straight, feature Reese Devilbiss, a 6-2 true freshman outside hitter from Northeastern. In limited action for the powerhouse Buckeyes, Devilbiss has 10 kills and 11 digs on the season.

Steve Heiser is sports editor for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com