One-of-a-kind Devilbiss drove Cats
Christian Arnold witnessed history in his first year as a GameTimePA.com reporter: the Northeastern boys' volleyball team won its fourth-straight PIAA championship. It was his top memory from the year that was in YAIAA sports.
Even if he may not be completely objective, it’s hard to argue with a coach that led his team to four straight PIAA Class AA championships when he tells you who the greatest volleyball player in York County history is.
Northeastern boys’ coach Matt Wilson doesn’t even hesitate when asked the question if Bobcats’ outside-hitter Reese Devilbiss is the best to ever play in a volleyball-rich area.
“I don’t think there is a doubt. I will say it, and good luck finding someone better in the state at this level,” said Wilson.
In typical Devilbiss fashion, the compliment was absorbed with humility.
“That’s a huge compliment knowing all the players that have come out of York County. It’s an awesome feeling that some people consider me to be the best,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without my coaches, my family and my friends – all the players that have helped me get better through the years.”
So what makes Devilbiss so good? Certainly there have been taller players able to take over a match. Still others have possessed a similar cat-like quickness that makes for great defense and transition game. There’s been plenty of power on display too.
“The great differentiator is how multi-faceted he is and how, in every facet of the game, how great he is,” said Wilson. “There might be guys that jump higher, might be guys better at singular areas. But Reese is unique vs. any other great player because of the multi-faceted parts.
“In a bad-set situation, look how smart he is with the ball. When it isn’t going his way, watch how he reacts. There’s the differences. I’ve been around long enough to know all the great one. I am pretty certain to know who the great one is.”
The fact that Devilbiss is not 6-foot-6 doesn’t stop him, especially since his vertical jump ranges from 36 to 40 inches. Those that have watched him marvel at his hang time ability to stay in the air after his jump. As Wilson says, “He’s 6-2 and plays like he’s 6-7.”
Such a combination of skill, athletesicm and court smarts is a rare find indeed.
He’s a player other teams have to gameplan against, although that may not work. Not only that, but the Bobcats had plenty of other weapons to negate the benefits of keying on Devilbiss.
Surrounding Devilbiss were fellow graduating seniors Jeff Reynolds, Chris Lee, Brandon Arentz, Drew Landis and Matt Schaeffer — all standouts in their own right — as Northeastern swept its way to a fourth straight state title.
“We all grew up playing soccer and basketball together. Then we started getting into volleyball and figured out we getting pretty good at it,” Devilbiss said. “It’s awesome we were so close the whole entire time. It just makes things more special.”
Wilson said that during the season, Devilbiss didn’t get the ball as much as the Bobcats’ offense ran through the middle. It didn’t matter to the humble star. It was all about getting another trophy.
“Sometimes the great players are demonized because they may have more arrogance,” Wilson said. “Reese’s stat lines have been coming down since he has gotten better. That’s because of his understanding of what we are after. That is another part of the fabric of Reese Devilbiss.”
For his part, Devilbiss credited Northeastern’s coaching staff, for giving their players the proper perspective, despite such incredible success.
“The volleyball is one thing, but being great people is what they push for the most,” he said. “That is what I like most about this program. We pride ourselves on being respective, humble and everything. To add on to that we can play great volleyball.”