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STATE COLLEGE >> Brandon Arentz obviously likes playing at Penn State University's Recreation Hall. Of course, after three straight PIAA Class AA championships — two of which came at Rec Hall — the same could be said for all of the Northeastern boys' volleyball team.

A year ago, Arentz was the libero, spearheading a defense that helped sweep Ambridge for a state title. In a different position on Saturday, he had seven kills, a block, an assist and four digs.

His early play in Game 1, where he had three of those kills, helped the Bobcats get off to a fast start in a dominating 25-9, 25-22, 25-12 sweep of Saegertown that completed Northeastern's championship three-peat.

"I think Brandon was spectacular today," said Bobcats coach Matt Wilson. "We've had conversations the past couple of weeks about how well he has improved. Brandon is a top-notch, back-row, ball-control guy. He's been one of our best blockers.

"I think the last couple of matches we have played in the postseason his game has continually progressed in the offensive situation. He's been flying under the radar, not with us. He's our best-kept secret probably."

For Arentz, confidence plays a major part in his improvement.

"I've just been working on my offense since the offseason," Arentz said. "The last couple of weeks I've been getting more confidence and getting more and more of the offense. When I make a mistake now I don't get mad about it like I did in the past."

Yet in many ways, Arentz represents exactly what makes the Bobcats so dominating.

The smashing kills of known standouts Reese Devilbiss, Philip White and Jeff Reynolds are impressive, and important for Northeastern. But the depth of this team is what makes the Bobcats champions.

Make that three-time consecutive champions — and four times in six years.

"We know who gets the majority of the press from a players' standpoint," Wilson said. "For Brandon to come in here today and literally at times shoulder a large responsibility for the offense is tremendous and says a lot about our program and where it is."

"It definitely takes a lot of stress off my shoulders and I am glad we can spread the ball around and run such an efficient offense," Devilbiss said. "It always keeps teams guessing."

Those options certainly kept Saegertown guessing.

The versatility of Arentz also helped the Bobcats reload regardless of who graduated, something else which leads to multiple championships.

"We knew going (into the season) Brandon's blocking capability was already there. We knew he could serve-receive so he could fill virtually every role. Can he replace Matt Hollinger with production? That was the only question," Wilson said.

Arentz wasn't alone in the unheralded role. Senior Matt Thornton was clutch down the stretch of the season, including a terrific performance in the District 3 title match.

On Saturday, setter Matt Schaeffer perfectly timed two kills in his only two attempts, and assisted on a block, in addition to his 32 assists. The junior did a stellar job replacing graduated Luke Braswell. Always reliable libero Chris Lee did his part as well.

"We've had different personnel step up from time-to-time and that's the beauty of this team," Wilson said. "You don't know who is going to be required to step up, you just know someone is going to do it. We really kept clicking. For us, it was a plug-and-play situation which is really rare."

"Certain days it is a Reese Devilbiss, a Philip White and Jeff Reynolds. On a day like today it was Brandon Arentz. He's chalked up two really nice performances in the state finals," said Wilson.

The depth of this team is scary, and with White and Thornton being the only graduated seniors that saw a lot of playing time, could a fourth-straight title be in the future come June of next year?

Brandon Arentz will most likely do his part, especially if the Bobcats make it back to Rec Hall.

Steve Navaroli covers high school sports for GameTimePA.com. Reach him at 771-2060.

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Northeastern secures PIAA volleyball lore with third straight title

Replay the live updates, photos and videos from Saturday's PIAA Class AA volleyball match

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On a mobile device? Click here to watch the video

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