It’s no secret that the Northeastern boys’ program sits firmly atop the Pennsylvania volleyball landscape.
So, it should also be of little surprise that the Bobcat Invitational annually attracts some of the state’s finest programs to Manchester for an early-season measuring stick, where teams can find out just where they stand against elite competition.
The 2017 installment of the event begins Friday morning with junior varsity action and wraps up Saturday with the varsity event. Eight York-Adams League teams will take the court in the 40-team varsity event.
The tournament is sponsored and hosted by the Northeastern
Along with the host Bobcats, Dover, Central York, Spring Grove, Red Lion, Susquehannock, Dallastown and York Suburban will also compete.
The four-time defending state champion Bobcats, ranked No. 1 in Class 2-A in the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association, lead a lineup that includes 12 teams ranked in the top 10 of their respective classes.
Northeastern enters its invite on the heels of a hard-fought, 3-2 (18-25, 25-21, 25-23, 23-25, 15-10) victory against York Suburban on Tuesday. The weekend before, the Bobcats climbed back into the rankings' top spot after winning the Saegerstown Invitational and also sweeping past Beaver Country Christian, which was the preseason No. 1 in 2-A, according to the PVCA.
Other ranked teams in attendance include: 2-A, Saegerstown (fifth), Fort Leboeuf (sixth), Holy Redeemer (seventh), Ambridge (eighth) and Bishop Guilfoyle (ninth); and 3-A, Central York (second), Hempfield (third), Central Dauphin (fourth), Emmaus (sixth), Seneca Valley (seventh) and Dallastown (ninth).
The teams will be split into eight, five-team pools. All pool-play matches will be one, 30-point set with no cap throughout any round of varsity play. At the end of pool play, teams will be seeded into the “play-in bracket.”
The first round of the play-in bracket will consist of one, 30-point set.
Teams losing in the first round go into the Bronze playoffs, teams losing in the second or third rounds advance to the Silver playoffs. Teams winning rounds two and three will advance to the Championship playoffs. Bronze and Silver playoffs will be one-set matches to 25 points.
For the Championship playoffs, the first round and quarterfinal matches will be best-of-three sets to 15 points each. The semifinals and championship matches will be best-of-three sets to 21 points, with the third set to 15 points.
There will also be a junior varsity tournament consisting of 24 teams. All junior varsity pool-play matches will be two, 21-point sets with a 23-point cap.
The junior varsity event starts at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The varsity tournament starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.