MANCHESTER — The York Suburban boys’ volleyball team did not achieve a great deal of success against York-Adams League heavyweights Central York and Northeastern this season.
The experience garnered by playing the defending state champs in 3-A and 2-A, however, showed up Monday evening.
Playing its opener in the District 3 Class 2-A playoffs on Northeastern’s home court, the Trojans put their collective experience to the test against Lancaster Mennonite in a quarterfinal battle.
Leave it to Nate Bowman to spark his team with a play more emblematic of his fall sport than volleyball.
Bowman, a second-team York-Adams Division II soccer all-star, used his foot to save a ball headed for the floor early in Set 5 against the Blazers. The Trojans eventually won that point, which seemed to propel fifth-seeded Suburban when it needed it most.
As a result, the Trojans were able to survive and advance to the semifinals Wednesday after a 20-25, 28-26, 25-18, 19-25, 15-7 triumph over fourth-seeded Lancaster Mennonite.
Northeastern next: Suburban’s "reward" for making it to the semifinals is another showdown with the five-time defending 2-A state champs from Northeastern. The Bobcats cruised past another Y-A foe, Susquehannock, 25-11, 25-6, 25-11, to advance to the semifinals.
“Coach always tells us to play with our hands and not our feet,” said Bowman, who finished with 15 kills. “But, hey, if it works.”
Suburban has now been pushed to five sets two other times this season against Chambersburg and Dallastown. In both instances, the Trojans came out on top.
“So far this season we’re undefeated in five-set matches,” YS coach Oliver Good said. “And I think that even that slight mental experience of knowing that may have given us an edge.”
Declan Ridings led the Trojans with 16 kills on a win-or-go-home evening. With the victory, the Trojans have a chance to clinch a PIAA 2-A berth by upsetting the Bobcats Wednesday at a time and location yet to be determined. A loss, however, does not end the season. Suburban would have another shot by winning the third-place contest.
Hoping to pull off upset: Bowman, though, isn’t planning on having to win a consolation contest to extend his team’s season. After winning their first dual match on Northeastern’s court in more than a decade, Bowman and his team feel like they have the potential to give the Bobcats a run for their money.
Bowman pointed out a few keys for how his team may attempt to pull off the upset.
“They constantly have energy,” Bowman said of Northeastern. “And that’s the players on the court, the players on the bench and from the stands. And I think that’s something that we’ll need to have, because we know that we can play with them. We knew exactly what they bring, it’s just actually showing up and playing like we know that we can.”
Improvement needed: That will mean improvement in a couple of key areas from Monday. The Trojans were far from perfect with their their serving and passing. Good knows that a similar showing Wednesday will likely end in a swift setback.
“Oh yeah, we’ll have to play a much cleaner game than the one we just played,” Good said. “And we’ll have to do that if we hope to compete with the five-time state champs.”
Still, the Bobcats are the odds-on favorite to claim the program’s 18th district title, including nine of the last 10 in 2-A, Northeastern coach Matt Wilson won’t allow his team to overlook a familiar foe.
“Both teams are very familiar with each other,” Wilson said. “They are a very solid program with a bevy of offensive options. It should be a great match between two skilled teams.”
The Bobcat attack was led by Cole Brillhart’s 13 kills, while Wyatt Hughes finished with 11 for Northeastern. Setter Austin Richards finished with 22 assists.
Central York 3, Chambersburg 0: At Cumberland Valley, Braden Richard led the Panthers to a 25-21, 25-15, 25-11 win in a District 3 Class 3-A quarterfinal with 15 kills and eight digs. Also for Central, Cole Johnson had 14 kills and five digs, while Brock Anderson had 30 assists and five digs and Kyle Mehl had six kills, five digs and seven assists. Fourth-seeded Central (14-2) now moves on to the semifinals and will face top-seeded Cumberland Valley (15-0), which beat eighth-seeded Gov. Mifflin (13-5) on Monday. The site of the semifinal is yet to be determined. No. 12 seed Chambersburg finished 9-8.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.