LANDISVILLE — With few exceptions, the first round of the PIAA boys’ volleyball tournament is not a difficult match for district champions and runners-up.
That was the case Tuesday evening for District 3 Class 2-A runner-up York Suburban and District 3 Class 3-A champion Central York.
Starting Saturday, however, that will likely no longer be the case.
Playing across the river at Hempfield High School in Lancaster County, the Trojans and Panthers were in complete control of their first-round state pairings. Suburban had little trouble dispatching an over-matched Palumbo squad, 25-7, 25-13, 25-3, in the opener, while Central cruised to a 25-13, 25-20, 25-14 triumph over Central Bucks East in the nightcap of a doubleheader.
Both sides move on to Saturday’s quarterfinals, where they will face significantly stiffer competition.
The Trojans will get District 7 2-A champ Beaver County Christian, a team that began the season ranked No. 1 in the state by the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association poll. BCC is ranked No. 2 in the latest poll, which has Suburban at the No. 3 spot.
The Panthers will see District 1 3-A runner-up Pennsbury. Central is ranked No. 1 in latest coaches poll, while the Falcons are ranked No. 9.
Tuesday was a bit laid back for both York-Adams League squads, facing unranked foes. While neither side was challenged on the court, both sides still faced mental challenges playing over-matched outfits.
Both the C.B. East and Palumbo sides played loose and appeared to enjoy the moment taking on highly regarded opponents. That is an aspect of the game that the Panthers can learn from over the final two weeks of the season.
"When we’re having fun I think we’re all clicking together,” Central senior Drew Anderson said. “Most of the time when we have trouble, it’s when we’re not having fun together. I’d say that is the biggest problem for our team.”
Anderson and his teammates are clearly a very talented bunch. But many of the remaining foes left in the playoffs are all very similar in that regard. What sets the Panthers apart, however, is the ability to focus and move on from negative situations.
Fortunately, those negative moments were few and far between Tuesday.
“We tend to all just come together and forget the last point,” said Panther senior Ben Seebold. “We all can just laugh it off.”
Seebold and Anderson elevated their games. to the delight of Central coach Todd Goodling. Seebold led the team with 13 kills, while Anderson was second with nine.
Those numbers stand out, especially since standout Cole Johnson had a bit of a quiet night, at least by his standards. The Panther junior finished with seven kills, which is well below his normal double-digit average.
There wasn’t much for Suburban coach Jamie Evans to point out after his team’s easy victory. The veteran coach, however, knows that the level of play will be significantly elevated come Saturday.
“We don’t know much about them,” Evans said of Beaver County Christian. “We know that they played Northeastern in the first match of the year, but we haven’t (played) them yet. We’ll just have to go in ready to play.”
Nate Bowman led a well-balanced Suburban attack, which had six different players record at least two or more kills, with seven kills for the contest. The Trojans finished with eight aces as a team, paced by Zach Weinstein’s three.
Northeastern 3, Berwick 0: At Cumberland Valley, the District 3 champion Bobcats had no trouble with the third-place finisher from District 2, rolling to a 25-9, 25-13, 25-12 victory in a PIAA Class 2-A first-round battle. In Saturday's quarterfinals, Northeastern will take on District 1 champion Dock Mennonite, which downed District 2 runner-up North Pocono on Tuesday, 25-19, 25-18, 25-20. Dock Mennonite was ranked No. 10 in the state in 2-A in the latest PVCA poll, while Northeastern was No. 1. The Bobcats are the four-time defending state champion.
Pennridge 3, Dallastown 2: At Quakertown, the Wildcats' season ended with a heart-breaking 25-13, 23-25, 16-25, 30-28, 15-12 setback in a PIAA Class 3-A first-round contest to the District 1 champion. Dallastown was the fourth-place finisher from District 3. Pennridge came in ranked No. 6 in the latest PVCA 3-A poll, while Dallastown was No. 7.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.