Boys’ volleyball is often a sport in which emotion plays a big role.
A big kill, a big block or a big ace can turn around a team’s fortunes in an instant.
In a season, a big upset or even a very close loss can set up a team for future success.
Things seemed headed that way for York Suburban recently. After nearly twice knocking off four-time defending PIAA Class 2-A champion Northeastern last week — once in a regular-season match and once in the Bobcat Invitational Saturday — the Trojans were rewarded with a big jump up to No. 4 in the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association’s 2-A rankings.
Suburban’s trajectory seemed to be headed even higher early Tuesday evening, when it hosted Central York in another early-season York-Adams League showdown.
Then, in an instant, it all came crashing down.
Suburban rallied back in Game 1 from a 12-7 deficit to take 24-22 lead. After the Panthers called timeout, the visitors reeled off three consecutive points. The two sides traded points until Central put things away by winning 30-28.
The home team never recovered. Central cruised to a shockingly easily victory in Game 2 before earning the sweep 30-28, 25-7, 25-11.
“We (coaches) were worried that we didn’t feel the same level of excitement that we felt last week,” Suburban co-coach Jamie Evans said. “We had two or three set points there in Game 1, but Central played. They were ready and hats off to them.”
The Panthers looked like a team destined for big things later this season. They strung together perhaps their best three points in a row late in Game 1. Of course, that is exactly what one would expect from a squad ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 3-A in the latest coaches poll.
“In a tough environment like this you just have to stay calm,” Central setter Carter Luckenbaugh said. “You just have to keep working through the next point and put any of those bad things behind you.”
Suburban got a big block from David Knife against Panther standout Cole Johnson to go ahead 26-25 late in Game 1. The home team had two more chances to put the game away, but each time the visitors came up big.
Johnson smacked down a kill from the back row to even the match at 28-28 before Kyle Mehl’s ace put CY up 29-28. Suburban was able to set up their big attacker, Jack Schultz (six kills), on the final point, but Schultz’s kill sailed just out of bounds.
The deflating experience of having so many chances to take the lead caught up with the Trojans in Game 2. Luckenbaugh used a nice serve that barely sailed over the net to help stake his team to a 12-1 lead.
“It makes it a lot easier when (Carter) is doing all the work,” said Johnson, who finished with a game-high 17 kills.
The home team kept things close early in Game 3 before it quickly unraveled again. Trailing 6-4, the deficit quickly expanded to 12-6. Moments later it was 19-9 and the outcome was sealed.
Luckenbaugh, a senior, finished with 41 assists, but it was his serving that really caught Evans' attention.
“He’s a great leader on the court,” Evans said. “I’ve enjoyed watching him set and lead these past couple of years.”
While the Panthers improved to 2-0 in the league, the Trojans dropped to 0-2. It should be pointed out, however, that both losses came against the Bobcats — ranked No. 1 in the Class 2-A rankings – and the Panthers.
“This is the schedule that the league gave us,” Evans said of his team’s early-season gauntlet. “Thank goodness we don’t have Dallastown until closer to the end of the season.”
Braden Richard added 14 kills on the night for Central, while Noah Chojnacki finished with nine assists for the Trojans.
Northeastern 3, Dallastown 2: At Dallastown, the Bobcats continue to show resiliency this year, coming from 0-2 down to upend the Wildcats in five games, 21-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-15, 15-11. After going all of last season without dropping a game en route to a fourth consecutive PIAA Class 2-A state championship, Northeastern is showing a different type of winning formula this year. This isn’t the first match that the Bobcats have had to come from behind to win and, while it’s not the most practical method, so far, the top-ranked 2-A team in the state is still finding ways to win. Northeastern won the JV match, 2-0.
New Oxford 3, West York 2: At New Oxford, the Colonials prevailed in the deciding game to knock off the Bulldogs, 15-25, 27-25, 25-17, 28-30, 15-10. Alex Neiderer had a huge night at the net for New Oxford, finishing with 24 kills and also coming up with 15 digs. He was helped by John Wessel’s 13 kills and Matt Faust's 46 assists. For West York, Jacob May passed for 32 assists and Kenton Meckley had 19 kills.
Spring Grove 3, Eastern York 0: At Wrightsville, the Rockets had little trouble sweeping the Golden Knights, 25-10, 25-23, 25-16. Luke Hoffnagle had 27 assists to lead Spring Grove, while Colton Anderson finished with nine digs and three blocks. Mike Schoff had 18 digs to lead Eastern and Greg Houck added 26 assists.
Red Lion 3, Dover 2: At Dover, the Lions rallied from down two games to win, 21-25, 17-25, 29-27, 25-17, 15-9. Tristan Fuentes had a 13-kill, 13-dig performance to lead Red Lion, while Blake Hildebrand had 14 kills and John Janowiac added 12. Zach Noll and J.T. Crossan each had 15 assists for Dover, while Dalton Boll had nine kills. Red Lion won the junior varsity match, 2-0.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.