How does Northeastern's four-peat rank in PIAA history?
Not once, not twice, not three times..but four times. Four times the champs.
After what had seemed like an inevitable finale to the 2016 boys’ volleyball season finally came to fruition on Saturday, Northeastern joined an elite few who can say they’ve won four straight state titles.
Just as they had all season and for the last four seasons, the Bobcats stayed calm, cool and collected as they swept Ambridge 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-15), securing their fourth-straight PIAA Class AA title.
“It’s the state final and we’re playing a heck of a squad,” Northeastern head coach Matt Wilson said. “This isn’t their first trip here and we knew they’d hang in there and want to grind with us…The end result is a win which is what we’re all about at this stage anyway. Survive and advance and at the end punctuate it with a championship.”
The Bobcats have reached a rare air, enjoyed by so few teams in the history of Pennsylvania sports.
Only 17 teams across all 23 sports in the entire history of PIAA competition have won four consecutive state titles. Northeastern is No. 18.
And just four teams had won four straight boys volleyball championships and only one in the last 45 years — Hempfield from 2001 to 2004.
“We just feel great that we could accomplish this,” senior Reese Devilbiss said. “We’ve wanted it since freshman year. It’s an awesome feeling.”
Devilbiss and his five fellow seniors on the team — Chris Lee, Drew Landis, Matt Schaeffer, Jeff Reynolds and Brandon Arentz — have turned Northeastern into a state dynasty. And they’ve done it with class.
“At the first match of the season (when they were in eighth grade) I looked across and thought ‘that’s a group that gets it already,’” Wilson said of his senior class. “To see them go out on top the way they’ve done it and do it with first-class style, I can’t really ask for anything more.”
It was fitting then that an unheralded senior capped off the final run through the postseason with the game-winning kill in game three.
Arentz, who prides himself on defense, was in position to put the game and the title away. He did just that, sending the Bobcat bench racing onto the floor and allowing the Northeastern faithful to finally let out a sigh of relief.
“That’s one of the first times ever I’ve called for the ball,” Arentz joked. “I got the point and the celebration was surreal…. Four years of hard work paid off.”
After the win, the players waved to the crowd in appreciation. Wilson may have received the loudest ovation as the gold medals were presented. He has been the maestro behind this dynastic era of Northeastern volleyball, helping make sure that for the fourth-straight year, Northeastern is bringing home the state title for that glorious, celebratory firetruck ride through Manchester.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Devilbiss said with a smile. “It’ll be interesting to see when that feeling finally hits us.”
Not one, not two, not three....
A look at the state's all-time teams that have gone back-to-back-to-back-to-back:
Haverford 6 (1966-71)
Hempfield 4 (2001-2004)
Peabody 4 (1949-52)
Westinghouse 4 (1936-39)
Northeastern 4 (2013-16)
Clairton 4 (2009-2012)
Southern Columbia 5 (2002-2006)
Berwick Area 4 (1994-97)
Carlisle 4 (1985-1988)
Boys' cross country
Mt. Lebanon 4 (1956-59)
Mercyhurst Prep 4 (2012-2015)
Harriton 7 (2004-2010)
Wyomissing 4 (2000-03)
Norwin 8 (1976-83)
Easton 4 (2001-04)
Central Dauphin 4 (2008-11)
Bethlehem Catholic 4 (2011-14)
Central Bucks West 4 (1993-96)