DALLASTOWN – While they had to break more of a sweat than they did in besting Lancaster Mennonite in the District 3-AA semifinals Wednesday night, the Northeastern boys’ volleyball players continued to prove they can take a team’s best effort and yet still prevail Friday at Dallastown High School.
Facing a York Suburban team that may arguably be the second-best team in Class AA in the state this year, the three-time reigning District 3-AA and PIAA state champ demonstrated that it remains in a class of its own.
The Trojans battled the Bobcats tooth and nail during an intense and exciting Game 1. But it only takes just a small lapse for a team the caliber of Northeastern to make things spiral out of control quickly.
A six-point run in the middle of Game 1 put the Bobcats ahead for good. Moments later Northeastern claimed a six-point triumph, which was the beginning of another three-game sweep for the Bobcats, who prevailed 25-19, 25-11, 25-22, in the District 3-AA title match.
The victory marked the fourth consecutive District 3 title for Northeastern, which will begin its quest for a fourth-straight PIAA title Wednesday.
“I honestly thought that we took one of their best punches,” Northeastern coach Matt Wilson said. “And if you’re not going to try to land your best punch tonight, when are you going to do it?”
Suburban led a handful of times in Game 1, including taking the opening point of the night. But the Trojans were never able to win more than three points in a row, which makes it nearly impossible to take down a team such as the Bobcats.
Northeastern turned around a 9-8 deficit with a six-point spurt to take a 14-9 advantage.
“Against a team like (Northeastern), if you even get one point on your serve, that’s a good run,” Suburban coach Jamie Evans said. “Usually, you try to get three or four.”
Knowing that they had to play aggressively to have a chance, the Trojans attempted to serve tough to the Bobcats. While it worked to a degree, there were a number of service errors that helped to erase any momentum the Trojans were able to build up.
“You can’t just serve up cupcakes or they’ll take advantage,” Evans said. “But we did have a lot of missed serves, which is easy to fix. If we fix those, it’s a lot closer match.”
The loss in Game 1 seemed to have a big hangover affect in Game 2 for the Trojans, who were never really in it at all. The Bobcats stormed out to a 5-1 lead and coasted to go ahead 2-0 in the contest.
Senior Reese Devilbiss, who collected his fourth District 3 gold medal, admitted that his team took its foot of the gas a bit in Game 3. The Trojans rallied late to pull within 24-22 before a kill from Dakoda Hoffman ended the match.
“Yeah, I think we slacked off a little in Game 3,” said Devilbiss, who led the Bobcats with 12 kills and five digs. “But we’re all super stoked that we were still able to pull it out.”
It’s not much of a surprise that Wilson wasn’t too pleased to see that in Game 3. But the veteran coach, who has led the program for the past 21 years, can still appreciate the end result.
“The good news is that you can play a little less than your best and still come away with a sweep,” he said. “And that says a lot about our group and I’m very proud about that.”
While Friday’s clash between York-Adams League powers again ended with Northeastern on the good side, the two clubs fully expect to meet up once more in 10 days. That would come in the PIAA semifinals, with the winner advancing to the state final on June 11.
“York Suburban did a phenomenal job tonight,” Wilson said. “We knew they were going to throw their best punch at us tonight. And I’m sure they’re going to want to gear up and wind up and try to throw that again at us if we face each other again.”
Notes: Jeff Reynolds tallied 11 kills on the night for the Bobcats, while Brandan Arentz finished with eight kills. Setter Matt Schaeffer dished out 39 assists for the Northeastern.
Sepehr Vakili finished with a game-high 14 kills to lead the Trojans, while Kaleb Ansel registered 28 assists.
Northeastern will begin the PIAA play on Wednesday, June 1, against District 2’s Crestwood at a time and location yet to be determined. That contest will be played somewhere in the District 3 footprint.
Suburban will take on the District 12 runner-up that same night.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.