Scribbles from the PIAA boys' volleyball championships notebook
Cleaning out the notebook with thoughts and leftovers from Saturday’s PIAA boys’ volleyball championships …
Best in show >> While Central York can easily lay claim to best in Pennsylvania, regardless of classification, Northeastern supplied the most impressive performance on the floor Saturday at Rec Hall.
They not only swept Class AA No. 1 Ambridge, they dominated the Bridgers. Remember, this same Ambridge team shocked Central York in finals of the Panthers’ Koller Classic. This same Ambridge team also had clout over the Bobcats by taking two of the three games they played this season.
The closest Ambridge got to challenging Northeastern came in the opening game, when it registered 20 points. The next two saw only 15 and 14 points from the WPIAL force. Something clicked with Northeastern in the postseason. Bobcats coach Matt Wilson suggested Central York played a role with its demolition of them in the YAIAA championship.
"Let's be honest," he said. "The one team to beat us was them."
A question that can't help but lurk is, would it happen again? Certainly the Panthers would not sweep their school-district bordering rival from the north.
Set up for the moment >> Matt Wilson said he and the Northeastern coaches told Luke Braswell last year to never try such a play again with match point on the line in the state championship.
It was a floater, which came out of his traditional setting position to catch the Ambridge defense off guard. Last year, he did not fool 6-foot-6 Bridgers standout Lee Smith -- delaying the Bobcats' eventual win.
So what did Braswell do this year with match point on the line?
Two hours later ... >> Central York setter Dylan Hose used the same tactic to ignite the Panthers’ final run to clinch Game 3 in their sweep of North Allegheny.
While Braswell and Smith might be able to joke about their rivalry as teammates next year at Penn State, that won't be the case for Hose. He also will attend PSU but not to play volleyball. He could try to club circuit on campus, but this was likely his last big volleyball moment.
He certainly will be missed by Central coach Brad Livingston, who had a memorable season with the senior. Hose had been his volleyball setter for the previous two years and a football player. Last August, Livingston and his football coaches needed to settle on a new quarterback.
Livingston kept it a mystery until the days leading up the season opener at West York. Hose went on to score four touchdowns in that game and led Central to a YAIAA Division I football title. The coach's praise for a setter -- one he called a quarterback multiple times this volleyball season -- rarely let up.
Change of roles >> Watching some of the plays Northeastern senior Matt Hollinger finished, it was difficult to believe Wilson had him at libero during last year’s title run.
Liberos seem to have the most heart and least size of the six players on court, but Hollinger was able to blend some of that first quality without the other.
At the beginning of this season, Hollinger said he was open to any role suited for him. Once again, he moved in and out of that libero spot.
Next up >> Brandon Arentz was the last to wear that black libero jersey for Northeastern this season.
Chris Lee, the middle man in Wilson swapping of liberos, praised Arentz's job.
"His serve receive is nearly perfect every time," Lee said. "It's fantastic when we can hit a ball right on the net, and Luke can set it. It's special."
That setting spot is expected to be manned by Matt Schaeffer next year. Schaeffer took over for Braswell during his leg injuries and just happened to be a sophomore like Lee and Arentz. The Bobcats had six sophomore make contributions Saturday, which makes you wonder.
Where does it end?
"We've stuck together ... I can't even count how many years we've been together," Lee said. "We grew up a unit. It started in seventh grade, actually sixth grade. We started going to open gyms. We've developed a lot of chemistry."
The one exception was middle hitter Jeff Reynolds, whose sophomore friends talked the basketball player into joining the volleyball team this year.
Emotional end >> Alex Klunk fought back the tears, which got increasingly difficult as Central York assistant coach Todd Goodling placed a gold medal around his neck.
Numerous members of the Panthers' title team were busy this school year with other sports. Hose had football in the fall. Chris Snowadzky was the soccer goalie in the fall. Royce Clemens had soccer and then basketball (it's believed he might be Central's only athlete in history to participate in three state tournaments in one year).
That left volleyball-centric athletes, such as Klunk, wondering and worrying when he could not work with all of his teammates.
"It's been rough, real rough," he said. "Trying to get everyone in the gym at the same time to practice before the season started was really rough. Once the season got going, and everyone was in the gym every day, that's when it really got going. We knew we had something special going on."
They said it >> Quote of the day that didn’t make the paper:
"What gets lost in the shuffle is those three juniors that are on that lineup. The improvement they made from last year to this year, it would be like me training for a year and running a 9.2 100-meter dash next year."
The comment came from Central York coach Brad Livingston on juniors Jason Gardner, Landon Shorts and Jeremiah Dadeboe.
Anyone who has spent a few good minutes with Livingston should not be shocked he would make such a joke. For a reporter, a short interview with him can usually write a story for you.