Surging Central York tops Northeastern in York-Adams showdown; other Thursday boys' volleyball

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
717-505-5403/@ydsports
Central's Matt Smyser (17) hitting the ball back over to Northeastern during their volleyball game in York, Pa on Thursday, May 5, 2022.

EMIGSVILLE – Former Central York boys’ volleyball coach Brad Livingston had a saying back when he led the Panthers' illustrious program.

“You don’t want to peak too early.”

Livingston’s words rang true this season for his old program.

After picking up a pair of early-season losses against Red Lion and York Suburban, the Panthers were knocked out of contention for the York-Adams League regular-season title seemingly before they even had a chance to get started.

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Early losses, however, matter significantly less when playoff time approaches.

Livingston was in attendance Thursday for the clash between backyard rivals Northeastern and Central York. It seemed appropriate. Just as he preached during his heyday, the best teams play their best when titles are decided.

That just may apply to Central York this season.

Thursday on their home court, the Panthers put themselves squarely in line for bigger things in the postseason.

Playing like one of the top 10 teams in the state over the past few weeks, the CY boys proved their early slump was just a hiccup. Led by a season-best 20 kills from Christian Bucks and 39 assists from setter Devin Marsh, the Panthers impressed everyone with a 25-14, 15-25, 25-23, 27-25 victory over the Bobcats.

The Panthers (10-2 overall) are ranked No. 9 in the latest Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Class 3-A poll. They finished their Y-A campaign at 9-2. The Bobcats (10-3 overall) finished at 10-1 in the league and will share the York-Adams regular-season crown with York Suburban. Central has won nine straight matches.

“We knew that we had to start out strong,” said Marsh, who added nine digs and an ace on the evening. “We came out with energy and then kind of dipped (in Set 2), but we decided to stay strong and take a deep breath. We stayed clean, got the ball in and we did that.”

The big stage that every Central-Northeastern match was been played on over the past three decades proved not to be too big for Marsh, who was on the JV team a year ago.

“It’s a lot different than JV,” Marsh said with a grin. “There are a lot more fans and the arena is kind of like shaking, so you have to kind of zone out and concentrate on playing your own game.”

After the Bobcats evened the match with a comfortable win in Set 2, the final two sets featured the tight action that was the hallmark of nearly every clash between the two longtime powers over the years.

The two rivals traded runs and leads back and forth throughout Set 3. The visitors seemed to have control late with a 23-21 lead, but the Panthers rebounded after a timeout to run off the final four points, giving them a 2-1 edge in the showdown.

The Panthers were able to stake a late lead in Set 4 only to see the tables turn, with the Bobcats rallying from down 21-17 to go ahead 22-21.

The CY boys, however, cleaned up their play over the final run in Set 4 before Matt Smyser finished off the triumph with a kill to set off a wild celebration on the Panthers court.

“We know that we can play to this level,” Marsh said. “We wanted to come out and make a statement.”

For those who missed Thursday’s clash, the good news is that a rematch is right around the corner. After a week to rest up and practice, the Panthers and Bobcats will meet up in the first-round of the Y-A playoffs in 10 days at Dallastown High School.

“Yeah, I do believe we will see them again,” Northeastern coach Lamar Fahnestock said. “I look forward to watching some film to look where we can make some adjustments and changes and hopefully it’ll be a different result in that next match.”

Owen Kohr led the Bobcats with 15 kills, while Jacob Hornberger finished with 13 for Northeastern. Tyler Finch dished out 36 assists for the Bobcats, while Gavin Meador tallied 16 digs to lead the Northeastern defense.

OTHER BOYS' VOLLEYBALL

York Suburban 3, York Catholic 0: At York Catholic, the Trojans won 25-21, 25-19, 25-22. Brady Stump led the Trojans (13-1) individually with 10 kills, five aces, 10 digs and three blocks. Also for Suburban, Luis Montalvo had 32 assists, Jordan Weaver had 16 digs and four kills and Jackson Bryant had eight kills. For the Irish (10-3), Luke Forjan had eight kills and 12 digs, Brady Walker had five kills and 12 digs and John Forjan had 22 assists and eight digs.

Hershey 3, Spring Grove 1: At Spring Grove, the Trojans won the match, 19-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-23. Individually for the Rockets, Bryce Ball had 16 kills, 12 digs and three aces, Jack Mummert had 11 kills and 13 digs, Ryan McKowen had 22 assists and 11 digs and Camden Sterner had 25 digs.

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.