Northeastern boys' volleyball held off by Cumberland Valley in non-league clash
MANCHESTER — A good start can go a long way in an athletic contest. That’s exactly what the Northeastern boys’ volleyball team got Monday evening as the Bobcats hosted No. 2-ranked Cumberland Valley.
The hosts came out on fire, blitzing the Eagles en route to an impressive victory in Set 1. The momentum continued on into Set 2, as the Bobcats led by six points early in the stanza.
“I’m never surprised when I see these boys play that way,” Northeastern coach Lamar Fahnestock said. “We have a ton of really good players that push us in the practice. I have a great group of kids that I can bring in at just about any point in a match.”
But some teams, especially the best of the best, can withstand and rebound from a slow start. During their heyday in which they won six straight PIAA state titles, the Northeastern boys were certainly in that category. So, too, are the Eagles, who didn’t get rattled despite their predicament.
The Mid-Penn Conference power steadied the ship behind a strong defense and high-powered attack. Behind the play of Andrew Duncan, Brennan Levis and Trey Edmonds, who each tallied 15 kills apiece, Cumberland Valley rallied back to score a 14-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 victory.
“I don’t think it was anything that they changed,” Fahnestock said. “We had three sophomores out there and it was just a little bit of a lack of experience.”
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Perhaps the biggest turning point was Cumberland Valley’s ability to block Koltrin Forry. The 6-foot-2 sophomore packs a booming punch whenever he connects on an attempt, but perhaps the Eagles got into his psyche a bit with three straight blocks the turned the tide in Set 2.
“There really hasn’t been a team that can stop Koltrin like that,” Fahnestock said of Forry, who finished with a team-high 10 kills. “He got blocked and the team reacted in a way that was pretty negative, and that makes it hard for them to come back.”
The Bobcats and Eagles traded points back and forth in Set 3 before a seven-point run gave Cumberland Valley separation late to take a 2-1 lead. The Eagles then jumped out to a big lead in Set 4 to put the match away.
While the setback was surely a disappointment for Fahnestock and his crew, the Bobcats head coach feels the experience of playing against a top-shelf opponent and giving it a run for its money will pay off down the road. With a young team that features a bevy of sophomores and juniors, Northeastern lacks the big-time experience that was a common thread from its run of the championship teams.
“This will be a good experience for us, for sure,” Fahnestock said. “We’ll see teams, especially in the playoffs, that can put up a block, and I’d rather we error now then come the playoffs.”
After a strong showing at the Bobcat Invitational on Saturday, where the Manchester boys earned wins over No. 3 Warwick, No. 4 Parkland and No. 10 Hempfield, the test against the No. 2 team was only the midway point of a busy week. Northeastern will take on New Oxford on Wednesday before a big clash with York Suburban on Thursday. The Bobcats split the York-Adams League title with Suburban last year, with the Trojans winning the county tournament.
“Thursday will be a very important match,” Fahnestock said.
Zach Kilpatrick finished with seven kills while Ethan Schick tallied six kills to go with 10 blocks in the setback for Northeastern.