Local boys' volleyball teams hang tough at Northeastern's Bobcat Invitational

Five York-Adams League squads made the championship bracket at the prestigious annual event.

Ryan Vandersloot
For The York Dispatch

MANCHERSTER — To say the Bobcat Invitational is a gauntlet might be an understatement.

Over 10 hours of boys' volleyball action consumed the courts at several gyms across the Northeastern School District on Saturday as 40 teams from around the state — including 14 of the top 20 teams in the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association state rankings — got together to get a taste of some of the best competition in Pennsylvania.

After pool play and play-in rounds were complete, five York-Adams programs — Dallastown, Central York, York Catholic, York Suburban and Northeastern — advanced to the 16-team championship bracket. While those teams all came up short of the finals — Emmaus defeated Cumberland Valley for the title — the event was certainly a good barometer for all involved.

“This was a step in the right direction for our team,” Central York co-coach John Feldmann said of his Panthers, who lost in the semifinals to Emmaus. “We learned more about ourselves and improved as a collective. Us coaches are proud of how the guys competed throughout the entire day.”

Central York’s Devon Marsh serves the ball to York Suburban during boys’ volleyball action at Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, March 28, 2023. York Suburban would win the match 3-0. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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The Panthers, ranked No. 5 in the last PVCA rankings in Class 3A, won their four pool play contests — which were a first-to-30 format — against New Oxford, Chambersburg, Southern Lehigh (No. 8 in 2A) and Cochranton (No. 6 in 2A). Central York then downed Central Dauphin to advance to the championship bracket, where the Panthers defeated Dallastown and then Cochranton before falling 25-18, 25-19 to eventual champion Emmaus, which is ranked No. 8 in 3A.

'Great day' for Irish: It was a strong showing for York Catholic, ranked No. 5 in Class 2A, as well. The Irish finished 1-3 in pool play, dropping sets to Palmyra, Warwick (No. 3 in 3A) and McDowell (No. 7 in 3A) while defeating Central Bucks West. But YC then knocked off Ambridge (No. 10 in 2A) in the play-in round to make the final draw, where the Irish got past Governor Mifflin in the first round before falling to Cumberland Valley (No. 2 in 3A).

“Overall it was a great day for us,” York Catholic coach Phil Autrey said. “It gave us a chance to see a lot of high-level competition and identify our strengths and weaknesses heading into the heart of our league schedule.”

'Ups and downs' for Northeastern: The host Bobcats performed well against some of the state’s top programs. Northeastern won three of four contests in pool play, knocking off Central Dauphin, Neshaminy and Parkland (No. 4 in 3A) while falling to Ambridge. Despite the 3-1 record, the Bobcats took third in the pool behind Parkland and Ambridge because of tiebreakers (Parkland was a plus-34 in points) and their head-to-head loss to the Bridgers.

Coach Lamar Fahnestock’s club then won a battle with Warwick to advance to the championship bracket, where they knocked off another Lancaster-Lebanon League power in Hempfield (No. 10 in 3A) in the first round. Like the Panthers, the Bobcats saw their tournament conclude with a loss to Emmaus, this time in the quarterfinals.

Northeastern in between sets against Central during their volleyball game in York, Pa on Thursday, May 5, 2022.

“Our weekend had some ups and downs, but mostly ups,” Fahnestock said. “We only lost two matches all day. Along the way we collected big wins against Hempfield, Parkland and Warwick as well as against last year’s runner-up, Central Dauphin. We had some guys really step up like Koltrin Forry, Hugh Rogers and Chase Aimes while also getting strong leadership from Tyler Finch, who was on of the big reasons for success this weekend.”

Dallastown and York Suburban both fell in the first round of the championship bracket, but each program proved its might in making it to the final 16.

Suburban beat Central Bucks East and Saegertown in pool play while dropping matches with Whitehall and Cumberland Valley. A victory over Southern Lehigh in the play-in round got the Trojans into the main bracket, where they dropped a tough battle with Lower Dauphin (No. 7 in 2A).

The Wildcats went 3-1 in their pool, beating Garden Spot, Freedom and Bishop Guilfoyle while dropping a 30-24 battle with Lower Dauphin. Dallastown then knocked off Carlisle in the play-in round before falling to Central York, a team the Wildcats will see again Tuesday in a York-Adams League regular-season showdown.

Red Lion's Tyler Good (4) against Eastern York during their boys volleyball match in Red Lion on Thursday, March 30, 2023.

Red Lion failed to make the final draw but still had a decent day. The Lions finished 2-2 in their pool, knocking off Red Land and William Tennent while falling to Emmaus (30-27) and Governor Mifflin. A loss in the play-in to Pennridge (No. 9 in 3A) sent Red Lion to the silver draw, where they beat Garden Spot and Central Bucks West before falling to Warwick in the semifinals.

New Oxford's day came to a close in the silver bracket, while Susquehannock and Spring Grove lost in the bronze bracket.