MECHANICSBURG — It's not too often that Northeastern boys’ volleyball coach Matt Wilson is considered a villain.
Sure, the demonstrative veteran coach can stick out when he’s shouting at his team during intense timeouts.
But that had nothing to do with the reason that some fans at Cumberland Valley High School voiced their displeasure with the Bobcat mentor during Wednesday’s PIAA Class AA first-round battle with Crestwood.
After senior standout Reese Devilbiss unleashed a pair of deadly serves that went for aces in Game 1, Wilson decided to sub out the Ohio State recruit. The Comet players, coaches and bench all looked dismayed by the decision, and their fans who made the trip from the Scranton area groaned loudly.
Seeing the newly minted American Volleyball Coaches Association All-American in action was certainly one of the biggest thrills for the fans of the No. 4 seed from District 2, as well as the Crestwood players. That was confirmed shortly after Northeastern cruised to a 25-6, 25-11, 25-12 triumph. That's when one of the Comet players asked Devilbiss to sign a volleyball for his team.
The Bobcats weren’t the only York-Adams team to leave Cumberland Valley with an easy victory Wednesday. District 3-AA runner-up York Suburban dispatched District 12 runner-up The Academy at Palumbo, 25-13, 25-15, 25-9.
Wilson seemed a little amused by the reaction when he called Devilbiss off the court.
“I got booed I think,” Wilson said, smiling. “That was different.”
After getting a bit overshadowed in Friday’s District 3-AA title game victory against Suburban, Wilson wanted to make sure to get his all-state senior a chance to do what he does best against Crestwood. That was apparent both visually as well as on the stat sheet. Devilbiss led the Bobcats with 12 kills, four aces and a block.
“We needed to let Reese go a little bit more,” Wilson said. “For whatever reason, we haven’t really let him go from the service line in quite some time. So I wanted him to open it up a little more and sort of play a little more free and he found a nice groove there.”
While Devilbiss shined on the court, teammate Dakoda Hoffman also made a case to be considered an all-state-caliber player. The junior finished with 10 kills to go with an ace.
Hoffman, however, enjoyed playing in his first state playoff tilt against a team such as Crestwood, which displayed a lot of enthusiasm throughout the night. Most opponents would not be disappointed to see Devilbiss take a seat on the bench during a contest, but the Comet players reacted quite the opposite.
“This is the first team I’ve ever played against where I heard that much spirit on the other side of the court,” Hoffman said. “I’ve heard fans cheering, but good for them to have that motivation.”
Setter Matt Schaeffer dished out 33 assists to go with two aces. Brandon Arentz led the defense with three digs, while Drew Landis and Chris Lee both recorded a pair of digs.
Trojans sweep past Griffins: Suburban coach Jamie Evans broke in a new pair of orange and yellow shoes to spark his team to victory.
“Kaleb (Ansell), my setter, is a huge Vans fan,” Evans said. “So he designed them and sent me the link about a month ago and said ‘you need these shoes.’ They just came the other day.”
Whether it was coincidence or not, the Trojans played well in their opening-round rout of Palumbo.
“When we play at our best, I think we’re one of the best teams,” senior middle hitter Jack Schultz said.
Schultz, however, could not be counted as a fan of his coach’s new footwear.
“I don’t know if I approve of those shoes,” said Schultz, who finished with five kills and four blocks. “They’re a little bright.”
The stat sheet was balanced for the Trojans. Five players finished with at least four kills. In addition to Schultz, Sepehr Vakili (eight), David Kinfe (four), Zach Weinstein (four) and Ian Firestone (four) all came up with multiple kills.
Ansell finished with 25 assists to go with five blocks, while Gavin Dean led the defense with eight digs.
On deck: Suburban will take on District 2 champion Holy Redeemer in the quarterfinals Saturday. Redeemer needed four games to oust Lancaster Mennonite, 19-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-23.
Northeastern will get District 2 runner-up Nanticoke in another quarterfinal Saturday. Nanticoke swept the third seed from District 12, Cardinal O’Hara, 25-15, 25-14, 25-17.
Red Lion's season ends: The Red Lion boys' volleyball season came to an end on Wednesday with a 25-20, 25-23, 27-25 loss to District 1 champion Pennridge at Central Bucks South in a AAA first-round state contest. Red Lion, the third-place team from District 3, finished 17-6.
York County players on All-District 3-AAA teams: A number of York County athletes landed on the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association's All-District 3 Class AAA teams released Wednesday.
Red Lion outside hitter Dillon Hildebrand and Central York outside hitter Hayden Wagner landed on the first team.
Also from Red Lion, outside hitter Cole Brillhart made the second team. Also landing on the second team were Central York setter Carter Luckenbaugh and Dallastown outside hitter Aaron Ward.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.