York, PA -
Despite having the potential match-ending swing in front of him, in front of a jam-packed home crowd in what would decide the YAIAA regular season championship, Northeastern freshman Reese Devilbiss wasn't about to try and slam the ball out of the gym.
Don't try and do too much was the philosophy.
"I just tried to keep it in play. Everybody wants to go for the big one, I guess, especially against your rival," he said. "It was a good way to end the night, though."
It was the right way for the Bobcats to end the night, as Devilbiss knocked down the winning point and Northeastern captured the regular season title with its 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 25-21 victory against Central York.
With fans from both sides cheering loudly throughout the match, the Bobcats improved to 11-0 in the league and 12-1 overall, securing their first league season crown since 2010.
"This is a very special one for me. Last year we didn't win anything. That motivated us," Stephen Braswell said. "It was insane. Everyone was going crazy with every point."
After the teams split the first two games in Thursday's match, Game 3 never saw a lead of more than two points either way until late. Phillip White nailed a kill for Northeastern, tying the game at 16-all, and Bobcats coach Matt Wilson called timeout after his team scored.
The coach was not quiet during the timeout. His voice carried beyond that of the Northeastern pep band, which added to the incredible atmosphere. And the Bobcats never trailed after that break.
"It was that time I guess in my head. I felt this is one of those moments," Wilson said. "We were sideout and watching, sideout and watch. (Central was) siding out and working. I told (my team) if you are going to continue to watch, you are going to watch them hop on the bus with your title.
"You are looking for that flip of a switch and typically that is the defense that can do that for you ... And we made some defensive plays after that. Sometimes as a coach you make a call. Sometimes you look smart, sometimes you look silly."
Northeastern took an 18-16 lead that became 20-17, 21-18 and 22-19. Then after the Panthers served into the net, Stephen Braswell and Malik Jefferson hammered kills to end that game.
With points coming from six different players in the game, the Bobcats took a 22-17 lead; however, three straight Central points, including a kill from Dylan Hose (15 kills, 35 assists and two blocks), once again got the Panthers within striking distance.
Hose followed a Devilbiss kill with one of his own, cutting the gap to 23-21 before the freshman followed a Panther service error with his match-ending blast.
"He is a gamer, no-doubt," Wilson said of Devilbiss. "Tonight was monumental for them to get that first taste of a championship. It's a long way from trying to get a second one.
Now it's on to the YAIAA tournament, which takes place Monday and Tuesday at Dallastown.
"We have to try and take care of a lot of business before Tuesday, if we can get there. Two years ago they beat us at their place and we got the one the very next week. I will be reminding (our team) it is hard to pull the double play."
Central (10-1, 11-1) also looks ahead.
"Congratulations to Northeastern for winning it," Panthers coach Brad Livingston said. "I think you will see both teams do better on Tuesday if it comes down to that."
One area Livingston wants to see improve is on the serve.
"I was kind of disappointed with our serve late," he said. "Credit their serve-receive. They did a great job of making us look mediocre."
NORTHEASTERN 3, CENTRAL YORK 1
(25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 25-21)
Central York stats -- Dylan Hose (35 assists, 2 blocks, 15 kills); Alex Klunk (2 assists, 2 blocks, 2 digs, 2 kills); Josh Van Wyk (2 aces, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 9 kills); Royce Clemens (1 ace, 8 assists, 3 blocks, 3 digs, 23 kills); Ryan Gardner (4 assists, 4 blocks, 2 digs, 9 kills).
Northeastern stats -- Luke Braswell (1 ace, 51 assists, 1 block, 5 digs, 2 kills); Stephen Braswell (1 assist, 18 digs, 23 kills); Matt Hollinger (4 assists, 18 digs); Reese Devilbiss (3 blocks, 11 digs, 17 kills); Malik Jefferson (4 digs, 11 kills).
JV Score -- Central York 2, Northeastern 1 (25-19, 21-25, 15-10.