Pennsylvania's top high school boys' volleyball teams descend on Northeastern on Saturday

Central York's Braden Richard, center, slams the ball against Northeastern last season. Richard is expected to lead the Panthers during this weekend's Bobcat Invitational at Northeastern High School. Central is ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 3-A.
  • The Bobcat Invitational is set for Saturday at Northeastern High School.
  • The boys' volleyball tournament will feature a 40-team field.
  • Twelve of the 40 teams are ranked in the state top 10 in either Class 3-A or 2-A.
  • Class 3-A No. 1 Central and Class 2-A No. 1 Ambridge will be competing.

Since 2003, the PIAA has crowned 27 Pennsylvania high school boys' volleyball championship teams.

In the year they won those state titles, 22 of those 27 championship teams competed in that year’s Bobcat Invitational, according to Wayne Heberlig, the tournament's longtime director.

So, if you want to get a preview look at the eventual 2019 PIAA volleyball champions, you may want to head to Northeastern High School on Saturday.

If history is any indicator, there's a good chance that at least one, and probably both, of the 2019 state champions will compete in Manchester during the prestigious volleyball showcase.

As normal, the field is littered with teams ranked in the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association state polls, including the No. 1 team in both Class 3-A (Central York) and Class 2-A (Ambridge).

In all, the event will feature a dozen teams with top-10 rankings by the PVCA in either 3-A or 2-A.

The other ranked 3-A teams coming to York County are: No. 3 Northeastern, No. 4 Exeter, No. 5 Cumberland Valley, No. 6 Warwick and No. 10 Whitehall. The only 3-A top-five team missing is No. 2 North Allegheny.

The other ranked 2-A teams at Northeastern are: No. 2 Manheim Central, No. 3 York Suburban, No. 6 Saegertown, No. 7 Holy Redeemer and No. 8 Lower Dauphin.

Central is coming off a championship at the North Allegheny Tournament last weekend, beating Y-A rival Northeastern in the title match. Suburban, meanwhile, is coming off a title at the Hempfield Tournament last weekend.

The other York County schools in the field are Susquehannock, Red Land, Spring Grove, Red Lion, Dallastown and Dover.

In all, 40 teams will compete in the event, starting with pool-play action at 8:30 a.m. Saturday across eight different pools. Pool-play action will be held in the high school main gym, the middle school gym, the high school annex gym and the Spring Forge Intermediate gym.

After pool play, teams will be seeded into play-in rounds. The results of the play-in rounds will determine whether a team is seeded into the 16-team Championship Bracket, the 16-team Silver Bracket or the eight-team Bronze Bracket.

The tournament championship match is expected to start around 8 p.m. Saturday.

There is also a junior varsity tournament on Friday featuring 24 teams starting at 3:30 p.m.

Reach Steve Heiser at