DALLASTOWN — Northeastern boys’ volleyball coach Matt Wilson was a little concerned after his team scored a big victory last week against York-Adams rival Central York in the regular-season league finale.
With nearly a week off of live action, the Bobcats were back on the court Monday evening at Dallastown High School for the start of the Y-A playoffs against Red Lion.
Turns out any concern on Wilson's part was unnecessary.
The Manchester boys, led by big nights from Nate Wilson (eight kills) and Kyle Williams (seven kills), survived a spirited effort from the fourth-seeded Lions to earn a 25-17, 25-14, 25-13 triumph.
The top-seeded Bobcats (14-1) advanced to Tuesday’s title match against No. 2 seed Central York, which rolled past No. 3 seed York Suburban in the other semifinal, 25-22, 25-20, 25-18. The championship match is slated for 7 p.m. back at Dallastown.
“I thought our guys kind of stayed focused and stayed steady,” coach Wilson said. “And I thought we were pretty consistent throughout, and that’s now two nights in a row where we maintained that level of consistency.”
In years past, the league playoffs may have held lesser importance for the league’s top teams, such as Northeastern. That's not the case this time around. The Bobcats are preparing for their first venture into the Class 3-A level of postseason competition.
Wilson’s club, ranked No. 2 in 3-A in the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association state poll, earned a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed for the upcoming District 3 draw. While all but the top two seeds will play first-round matches this Thursday, the Northeastern boys are off until hosting a quarterfinal doubleheader next Monday.
“Everything is big now,” Wilson said. “We get the winner of Red Lion and Exeter, who's ranked No. 6 in the state. So every match now is big.”
Big can also be used to describe the size advantage that the Bobcats enjoyed over the under-sized but scrappy Lions. Zech Sanderson (6-foot-4, five kills), Alex Finch (6-foot-4, four kills), Wilson (6-foot-3) and Joel Braswell (6-foot-3, five kills) formed a big front line that gave Red Lion trouble all night.
“We started to clean up our blocking,” coach Wilson said of his team, which tallied 10 blocks for the evening. “And that makes a pretty big difference because we’re pretty big across the front.”
Asked if his team had a preference on who it would face in the final — Suburban (ranked No. 1 in the state in 2-A) or Central (ranked No. 3 in the state in 3-A) — the longtime Northeastern coach was noncommittal.
“No preference,” he said. “I don’t think we have a preference, but tomorrow is going to be very interesting.”
As it turns out, the Bobcats will again get the Panthers (12-1), a team that Northeastern beat 3-1 last week to claim the Y-A regular-season title. Central, however, held a 3-1-1 edge over Northeastern in tournament action this season.
Panthers secure a satisfying sweep: Worrying wasn’t exclusive to the Bobcats Monday.
After playing what senior standout Braden Richard called "the worst we’ve ever played" last week in the loss to Northeastern, Richard and his teammates were anxious to redeem themselves.
How would they respond against another highly touted state-ranked outfit?
Turns out, no worries.
Trailing in both Set 1 and Set 2 against the Trojans, the Panthers were able to put it all together in crunch time to claim a satisfying sweep.
“We knew that we could bounce back,” Richard said after taking down the Trojans. “I think last week motivated us to play better and I think we’re going to do that.”
Richard filled the stat sheet vs. YS with a match-high 21 kills to go with four digs and two blocks. Fellow outside hitter Kyle Mehl added 11 kills while setter Brock Anderson dished out 37 assists.
Now that the Panthers got past the Trojans, the focus is 100 percent focused again on taking down their backyard rivals from Manchester.
“This was good to get us ready for (Tuesday),” Richard said of Monday’s semifinal. “They got up (in Set 1 and Set 2) and that really sent a message to us to fight back. I’m pretty sure that will help us out (against Northeastern).”
Red Lion fell to 9-5, while Suburban dropped to 12-3.
Susquehannock 17, Northern York 10: At Glen Rock, the Warriors rolled in a District 3 Class 2-A first-round contest.
Seventh-seeded Susquehannock improved to 11-6. Tenth-seeded Northern finished at 10-9.
The Warriors next travel to second-seeded Cocalico at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Cocalico had a first-round bye.
Susquehannock was led by Kenna Hancock (six goals, five assists), Rachel Oestrike (four goals, assist), Ari Prediger (three goals), Addison Roeder (two goals), Kalen Hancock (two goals) and Sam McGuire (seven saves).
South Western 16, Cumberland Valley 15: At Cumberland Valley, the 11th-seeded Mustangs upset the sixth-seeded Eagles in a District 3 Class 3-A first-round match.
South Western improved to 11-5, while CV finished at 14-5.
The Mustangs will next travel to third-seeded Exeter (15-3) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Exeter had a first-round bye.
Lancaster Country Day 17, Eastern York 12: At Lancaster, the Golden Knights dropped their District 3 Class 2-A first-round contest.
Ninth-seeded Eastern was tied with eighth-seeded LCD at halftime, 8-8, but the Lancaster County team pulled away in the second half.
Eastern was paced by Addy Malone (three goals, two assists), Ellie Lippy (three goals), Victoria Zerbe (three goals) and Haley Holtzinger (two goals).
Eastern's season ends at 9-7. LCD improved to 10-8. LCD next faces No. 1 seed York Catholic (17-1) at 5 p.m. Wednesday at York Catholic.
Central Dauphin 13, Central York 11: At Central York, the seventh-seeded Panthers saw their 2019 season ended with a District 3 Class 3-A first-round loss to 10th-seeded Central Dauphin.
The Panthers finished at 14-5. CD improved to 14-4.
Gov. Mifflin 8, New Oxford 6: At Shillington, New Oxford's season came to a close with a District 3 Class 3-A first-round loss.
The ninth-seeded Colonials finished at 13-5. Eighth-seeded Gov. Mifflin improved to 12-7.
Lauren Dubs (two goals), Bethany Cohee (goal, assist) and Eryn Little (goal, assist) led New Oxford.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.