HERSHEY — It's not often when the biggest challenge of the night for Northeastern boys' volleyball coach Matt Wilson is to not allow the other team's loosey-goosey attitude to hinder his club.
Despite the hijinks from PIAA Class AA first-round state opponent Crestwood on Wednesday night at Milton Hershey High School, the Bobcats kept their laser-like focus throughout a strange match.
After a couple of back-and-forth points early on, the two-time defending state champs put their foot on the pedal, quickly dashing any hopes the Comets had of an upset. Their 25-11, 25-13, 25-7 triumph sends Northeastern into the state quarterfinals Saturday, where they will face District 2 runner-up North Pocono at a time and location yet to be decided.
While any victory at the state level is a big deal, Northeastern setter Matt Schaeffer was hoping for a little more.
"I really like it when other teams give us a tough match," Schaeffer said. "It just makes the atmosphere much better to play in. And it makes us play our 'A' game too."
After tying the score in Game 1 three times, the Comets were done in by a 6-0 run in which the Bobcats took control. Booming kills, aces and blocks from the Bobcats started to take over.
Crestwood, the No. 4 seed out of District 2, never came close again. The blue-collar attitudes of the Bobcats in putting away point after point forced the Comets into a realization that their coach had heading into the contest — they were over-matched.
"We just settled in and played our game," Schaeffer said matter of factly.
Wilson, who is not one to allow a lot of tom-foolery from his club, was proud of how his team handled it all for the night.
"I told our guys that I'm pretty proud of how they handled themselves," Wilson said. "Pretty proud."
Reese Devilbiss, an Ohio State recruit, led the Bobcats with seven aces to go with eight kills. Philip White led the team with nine kills, while Schaeffer dished out 24 assists.
Wilson and company know that they should face a bit stiffer challenge come Saturday.
"North Pocono is a familiar foe," Wilson said. "We've faced them the last several years in the state tournament in the same rounds. They're well-coached, well-skilled and they'll run I think a bit of a faster offense than we saw here today."
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.