DALLASTOWN — Northeastern boys' volleyball coach Matt Wilson used to joke with Wyatt Hughes when he was younger that Hughes was like a bull in a China closet.
It took some time, but Wilson and the Bobcat coaches seemed to have found a way to tame the bull just enough to produce some dynamic results.
Hughes was a menace all night against York Suburban Wednesday evening at Dallastown High School in the District 3 Class 2-A semifinals. The Northeastern senior finished with 10 kills and two blocks to help lead the Bobcats to a 25-15, 25-12, 25-17 triumph over the Trojans.
Northeastern advances to the 2-A final Friday at 6 p.m. back at Dallastown against Manheim Central. The Barons defeated Palmyra, 3-1, in the other semifinal Wednesday.
"Yeah, when Wyatt was younger he just was a little haywire sometimes," Wilson said. "But he has matured into something very, very special. He'll go down as one of my all-time favorites."
There's little doubt that Hughes, later this summer, will find his name on the list of players on the 2-A all-state team. And it's no secret that Hughes will be joined on that list by several of his teammates. Perhaps the biggest key to Northeastern's success over the years is that the players all work cohesively as a team. As talented as they all are individually, each one of them knows their roles and sticks to it.
“We know that if we try to stray apart and just do it solo that we can't do it," Hughes said. "But when we come together as a team we're a force to be reckoned with.”
Perhaps the biggest reason that Wilson is so enamored with Hughes is the fact that his senior standout plays the game one way only — full-speed.
"He's worked really hard all season," Wilson said. "If you watch him play football or actually anything, he only has one speed and that's 1,000 miles per hour. And sometimes you have to wrestle him back a little bit and say, 'slow down.'"
Those moments of frustration with Hughes have been few and far between this season. Against Suburban Wednesday, Hughes committed an error on one of his attacks. But instead of getting upset and letting it hinder his play, he responded on the next point with a booming kill to end a rally.
"His impact on this team, and his drive and his playing ability, is off the charts right now," Wilson said. "He's doing a great job."
Trojans struggle: After upsetting Lancaster Mennonite in the quarterfinals Monday evening, the Trojans were hoping to pull off a similar feat against the five-time defending 2-A state champions. The Bobcats, however, refused to even give their York-Adams League rivals a glimmer of hope in the first two sets.
While Suburban hung in early in Set 3, the overall firepower that the Bobcats possess proved to be too much.
Lewis-bound senior Cole Brillhart led the Bobcats with 14 kills. Alex Finch added eight kills, while Nate Wilson chipped in seven more. Setter Austin Richards dished out 37 assists.
Declan Ridings finished with a team-high seven kills for the Trojans, who will face Palmyra Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Red Lion in a third-place contest. The winner of that match will secure the third-and-final PIAA 2-A berth from District 3.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.