Now that the 2019 high school boys’ volleyball season has finally ended, it’s time to take a peek ahead to 2020.
PIAA Class 2-A runner-up York Suburban will certainly have a lot of openings to fill next year. With six senior starters/key reserves graduating, the Trojans will definitely have a different look if they make it back to Penn State for the state final next season.
Class 3-A runner-up Central York, meanwhile, will also feel the pain of five senior starters/key reserves leaving the program, but the Panthers have a deep roster with capable replacements eager to demonstrate their talents for coach Todd Goodling.
Then there’s Northeastern, which won the York-Adams League regular-season and playoff crowns in 2019.
After failing to make a state title contest for just the third time this decade, the Bobcats figure to fight for another shot at gold. Coach Matt Wilson will only have to fill in a few spots in his rotation. His team is striving to claim the program’s eighth state title over the past 11 years.
The one key that all three teams share is a returning starter at setter. Many coaches compare setters to quarterbacks in football.
Here’s a cursory look at the major losses and key returners are for the three premier Y-A programs:
Northeastern: The Bobcats will be without middle hitter Alex Finch, a Saint Francis (Pennsylvania) recruit, as well as Kyle Williams and a few other role players. Still, Wilson appears to have a shot at winning a state title during the senior season for his son, Nate.
“The loss of a player like Alex Finch leaves an enormous void that will be difficult to fill,” Matt Wilson said. “Alex is a versatile offensive player with a tremendous amount of postseason playing experience.
“And Kyle will leave (our program) looking for a player that can provide consistent play, especially in serve reception.”
Nate Wilson, an Ohio State recruit, will return along with Zech Sanderson and Joel Braswell to anchor the Bobcat attack. Jaden Castro, who will be a senior, and Tristan Schraudner could help fill some of the void left by the graduations of Finch and Williams.
Setter Austin Richards will be back, as will Brady Lemen, who will return to help the defense.
“The core and leadership of the roster will remain mostly intact,” Wilson said. “Having Nate and Austin, as well as the emergence of Joel late in the season, will give us plenty of optimism. Also, guys like Zech Sanderson and Tristan Schraudner will also be relied upon to anchor the team.”
Central York: The graduations of Braden Richard, a Saint Francis (Pennsylvania) recruit, Kyle Mehl, Matt Minkin, Eric Bowman and Prince Gabriel means the Panthers will lose nearly 1,000 combined kills.
"If I had to pick a prototypical player for Central York boys' volleyball, as a hitter, an offensive player, it'd clearly be Braden,” Goodling said.
Still, there is a deep reserve of players looking to step up. Gabe Guidinger, Kyle Fontes, Tyler Jones, Cody Boyer and others appear to be hungry and ready to move into the starting lineup.
Fortunately for the Panthers, setter Brock Anderson will return in the hopes of giving his school another shot to earn the program's eighth state title.
"Brock is in that position because he's a competitor," Goodling said. "We pick the setters because of the demeanor, the attitude, not so much the hands. It doesn't surprise me Brock competed like that. He's a tough kid."
Brandt Kelbaugh, the team’s libero, will also be back to help with the defense.
York Suburban: Like Central, the Trojans will have a lot of opportunities for new faces next season.
The team’s top four hitters are all graduating after leading the program to the brink of its first-ever state title. Messiah recruit Nate Bowman, Declan Ridings, Luke Babinchak and Harrison Perring will not be easy to replace.
"These seniors do things the right way,” Suburban coach Oliver Good said. “They are leaders in the school. They pressure their friends to make good decisions. They are a really special group that our program is really going to miss."
The bright side for Good is that he will have Trevor Culbertson back to lead the offense. Culbertson likely would have been the team’s primary setter this past season had it not been for a preseason head injury. With fellow setter Noah Chojnacki graduating, Culbertson will get a chance to run the show next year if he stays healthy.
John Doll, one of the team’s middle hitters, will be back, as will Anthony Brown and Brady Stump. Libero Harrison Gettle, who played well in the state final, also returns to help anchor the defense.
Reach Ryan Vandersloot at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Northeastern: Kyle Williams, Alex Finch.
York Suburban: Nate Bowman, Declan Ridings, Noah Chojnacki, Luke Babinchak, Harrison Perring, Aria Vakili.
Central York: Braden Richard, Kyle Mehl, Matt Minkin, Eric Bowman, Prince Gabriel.
Returning Starters/Key Reserves
(Class designations are for the 2020 season)
Northeastern: Austin Richards (senior), Nate Wilson (senior), Zech Sanderson (senior), Jaden Castrol (senior), Tristan Schraudner (junior), Brady Lemen (junior), Joel Braswell (junior).
York Suburban: Anthony Brown (senior), John Doll (senior), Harrison Gettle (senior), Trevor Culbertson (junior), Brady Stump (sophomore).
Central York: Brock Anderson (senior), Gabe Guidinger (senior), Kyle Fontes (senior), Tyler Jones (senior), Cody Boyer (senior), Brandt Kelbaugh (junior), William Roberts (junior), Matt Smyser (sophomore).