Northeastern sweeps way to district three-peat, topping Lancaster Mennonite
It was a moment most of the people who were at Dallastown High School on Friday have seen before — several times in fact.
At the same time, it was also something the Northeastern volleyball family hopes to see again in two weeks.
Winning championships never gets old.
On Friday, the Bobcats did what they've done for three straight years and six of the last seven: Win the District 3 Class AA championship.
This time the victim was a sneaky Lancaster Mennonite squad that pushed Northeastern in the middle set, only to see the Bobcats recover in grand fashion. Northeastern swept the Blazers, 25-17, 25-18, 25-17.
Afterward, junior Reese Devilbiss donned district gold for the third time in as many years.
"It's a great feeling. We come out here and do this for the fans, for the coaches and for school pride," he said. "Who gets tired of winning? It never gets old. We enjoy doing this every year."
While it might not have been as pretty as some other matches, a sweep in a final is impressive. Still, it took a timeout in the second game to set things straight. Down 15-13 at the time, Bobcats coach Matt Wilson had a message for his group.
"We definitely broke down with ball control. We just looked like we were going through the motions. That is what he emphasized in that time out," Devilbiss said. "Wilson's a great coach and knows what he is talking about. As soon as he says something, you don't want to mess around."
"I felt it was lack of execution on our side, in service game, serve-receive, blocking," Wilson said. "Executing the skills at a high level we struggled with a little bit. It happens — you don't want it to happen on championship night."
The team responded. Philip White, Jeff Reynolds and Brandon Arentz recorded kills during a six-point run for a 19-15 lead. Mennonite scored the next point, but Reynolds knocked home two more, and Devilbiss slammed home a Blazers' dig that crossed the net.
The mojo was back.
Devilbiss notched a kill and a block for set point, and after a Mennonite point from Andrew Baak, Bobcats senior Matt Thornton slid outside for a kill to end the pivotal game.
"We weren't sharp, but at the same time, you've got to give credit to Lancaster Mennonite," Wilson said. "They gave a championship effort. I think we just had a little more experience."
The final game was close early, as Northeastern reeled off seven straight points to take a 13-6 lead. Trading points much of the rest of the way, Devilbiss drilled kill No. 15 of the night — a match high — and Drew Landis followed with an ace for a 23-15 advantage.
A short while later, White ended the match with a kill, sparking yet another celebration on the Dallastown gym floor.
"It feels good to be a part of a team like this," said Reynolds, who had nine kills and a part of three blocks. "Coach tells us all the time don't take it for granted. It's not something that's common. I just think it's one step closer to that state championship we are going for."
Matt Schaeffer dished out 38 assists, and White added nine kills to go along with two blocks and three digs.
Wilson reflected on the Bobcats winning yet another district title.
"I don't think about it too often, but six out of seven is pretty remarkable when District 3 is as strong as it is," he said.
Northeastern (18-0) begins its quest for a third straight state title when it faces the fourth-place team from District 2 at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Milton Hershey High School.
Reach Steve Navaroli at 771-2060.
Northeastern 3, Lancaster Mennonite 0
25-17, 25-18, 25-17
Lancaster Mennonite stats — Jarred Sands (5 kills), Garyd Martin (2 kills, 17 assists, 3 digs), Austin Sauder (3 kills, 2 assists, 4 digs), Ian Burkhart (3 kills), Andrew Baak (4 kills), Evan Augsburger (1 kill, 6 digs).
Northeastern stats — Matt Schaeffer (38 assists, 1 block), Reese Devilbiss (15 kills, 1 ace, 2 blocks, 1 dig), Philip White (9 kills, 2 blocks, 3 digs), Brandon Arentz (2 kills, 2 blocks, 1 dig), Drew Landis (1 ace), Chris Lee (2 digs), Matt Thoman (5 kills, 3 blocks), Jeff Reynolds (9 kills, 3 blocks).