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Northeastern wins fourth straight district title

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When Dakoda Hoffman knocked over a kill to clinch Northeastern's fourth consecutive District 3 Class AA championship — a 25-19, 25-11, 25-22 sweep of York Suburban — the celebration was surprisingly muted.

Perhaps that had to do with the close ending to the third game. Suburban had started to claw back before the Bobcats opened up a 21-16 lead. But that margin quickly evaporated. The Trojans fought off two match points to pull within 24-22, but Northeastern called a timeout to calm down, and Hoffman slammed home the winning point.

“I think we were excited, but towards the end we kind of slacked off in Game 3,” said Reese Devilbiss. “I think that really kind of got to us, but we’re still super excited that we could pull it out.”

Both sides expected the championship matchup to be tough, and the teams held up their ends of the bargain.

The Trojans took an early lead in the first game, going ahead 4-2 and pushing it to 7-5. But several Suburban service errors swung the momentum back into the Bobcats' favor as the two sides wrestled for control.

“Missed serves are always a killer,” York Suburban coach Jamie Evans said. “But at the same time you have to serve them a little tough. If you just give them a little cupcake over they’re going to do their job with it. We went for the serve and it bit us tonight, but we can fix that.”

Eventually the Bobcats broke a 9-9 tie and went on a 6-0 run to take the lead. Suburban kept the score close, but Northeastern came away with the opening win.

Northeastern rolled that momentum into a big win in Game 2 before the Trojans gave the Bobcats a scare in the third game.

Following Northeastern’s semifinal victory, Matt Schaeffer said his team wanted to play Suburban for the title.

“We knew (Suburban) was an emotional group so we had to match that if we wanted to push through,” Devilbiss said. “I think we did pretty well against them.”

Friday’s championship bout marked the fifth year in a row that the Bobcats and Trojans have faced off in the district tournament. In 2012, the Trojans beat the Bobcats in the semifinals on the way to winning the championship, ending Northeastern's bid for its fourth consecutive district title. The Bobcats have won every district title since then, and the championship was their seventh in the past eight years.

Both teams will continue their seasons in the state tournament beginning Wednesday. York Suburban will take on The Academy at Palumbo, the runner-up from District 12, and Northeastern faces District 2 fourth-place finisher Crestwood. The games are back-to-back at Cumberland Valley, with Suburban playing at 5:30 followed by Northeastern at 7.

The win sends Northeastern into the state tournament on a positive note, not only by winning the district title, but also having to do so in a challenging fashion.

“I think we took one of their best punches,” Northeastern coach Matt Wilson said. “Obviously they wanted to come out and send us a message. I thought we handled it fairly well. I also thought though we looked very tight. … The good news is you can play a little less than best and still come away with a sweep.

“That says a lot about our group.”

District 3 Class AA champions 

2016: Northeastern

2015: Northeastern

2014: Northeastern 

2013: Northeastern

2012: York Suburban

2011: Northeastern

2010: Northeastern 

2009: Northeastern

2008: Eastern York 

2007: Exeter