Northeastern, Central York both going for state gold
It's become a tradition.
When the Northeastern boys' volleyball season ends, it's done on a court at Penn State University.
And it's not just about ending it there, either. It's also about returning home with a state championship trophy to show off to its fans.
The Bobcats have won the last four PIAA Class 2-A state titles, becoming the most dominant boys' volleyball program in the state over that time, regardless of classification.
Saturday, Northeastern will be at PSU for a fifth consecutive year, and it will try to win an unprecedented fifth straight state championship, this time facing Beaver County Christian.
The Bobcats will be one of two York County teams battling for a state boys' volleyball title on Saturday. Immediately after the 2-A final, Central York will take on North Allegheny in the 3-A championship match.
In each case, the local team will face a familiar foe.
"I’m really looking forward to playing them again," Northeastern's Jacob Cheuvront said about BCC following Tuesday's semifinal win over Manheim Central. "We started the season with them and now we’ll end the season with them.”
The Bobcats had little trouble with the Eagles in that match to kick off the season, winning in three games, 25-18, 25-20, 25-19. At that time, however, BCC was No. 1 in the state in 2-A (according the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association), while Northeastern was in unfamiliar territory, ranked all the way down in sixth.
After the early-season win, it didn't take long for the Bobcats to climb the state rankings, eventually taking over the No. 1 spot and holding it for the duration of the season.
This Northeastern team isn't as dominant as recent state-championship outfits, but that was to be expected after last year's team graduated all six starters. Yet, the Bobcats still found ways to win, whether it was by sweep or in five games, which is what it took to get past Manheim Central in Tuesday's state semifinals.
Regardless of how it's done, the players know that if they play up to their standards, there isn't a team out there that can beat them.
"“If we can pass well, we can get our middles going, that’s very, very good for us," Cole Brillhart said.
The Eagles are a relatively new program, in just its ninth season of existence. However, after making the state quarterfinals last season, BCC entered the year with lofty expectations.
While Northeastern dethroned them of the top spot in the rankings, the Eagles mostly lived up to those expectations. BCC will provide a major challenge for the Bobcats.
"There was a reason that we were seeking them out and I think that there was a reason that they were willing to accept it," Northeastern head coach Matt Wilson said about opening the year with BCC. "They have a great coaching staff out there. (Christen Adels) does a great job. They’re going to be ready.”
The Bobcats will be aiming for the program's eighth PIAA state boys' volleyball crown overall.
Panthers look to make it a triple: Joining the Bobcats in State College on Saturday will be fellow York-Adams foe Central York.
The Cenrtral-North Allegheny match-up has some history to it.
Not only have the two programs met three times this year in tournaments, with the Panthers holding a 2-1 edge, but they also met in 2014 in the state gold medal match, with Central York sweeping its way to the title, the last one the program has won.
"These two programs are like royalty in PIAA," Panthers' head coach Todd Goodling said after Tuesday's semifinal win over Emmaus. "It's always the WPIAL vs. District 3. So, the kids respect each other and it's going to be a great match."
The Panthers have been rolling this season and haven't slowed up in the postseason. They've already captured the Y-A League and District 3 3-A titles this year, so a state crown will complete the trifecta of single-season trophies.
In order to get to the finals, No. 1 Central had to take down No. 2 Emmaus in the semifinals. On the other side of the bracket, North Allegheny, ranked fourth in the state in 3-A, took down No. 3 Central Dauphin in the other semifinal, setting up a match-up that should provide some drama.
"I think (this) is what should've happened this season based off of every team I've seen play this year," Central libero Zak Kakos said. "I think these are the top-two teams in the state, but any of the top four could've won."
North Allegheny is making its 15th trip to the state championship match, going 5-9 in those appearances, with its last crown coming in 2013. The Panthers have had better luck in state finals, going 6-4 in their 10 previous appearances.
The Northeastern vs. BCC match is set for 11 a.m., with the Central York vs. North Allegheny match following at 1 p.m. Both will be played at PSU's Rec Hall.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com York Dispatch sports reporter Elijah Armold and correspondent Ryan Vandersloot contributed to this story.