Central 'locked in' during sweep
Cole Johnson smashed a game-high 17 kills to help lead Central York to the regular-season YAIAA crown May 11, 2017. Jim Seip, GameTimePA
There's a new league champion, and Central York left little doubt about it Thursday night.
The Panthers swept Northeastern, 25-14, 25-18, 25-18, to claim the YAIAA regular-season title.
Central's victory ended Northeastern's 32-game winning streak in league play, and it will go down as the Panthers' first league crown since the 2014 squad handed Northeastern its last league loss.
"That's a big step in our season so far," Central senior Carter Luckenbaugh said. "We accomplished our first goal in winning our division, obviously our next goals are winning the (YAIAA tournament), districts and states.
"For me personally, this is my first year checking off one of those goals. It definitely feels good."
Luckenbaugh fed Central's big man, 6-foot-7 Cole Johnson, from the start. And he delivered in a big way. On a night when no other player managed double digits in kills, Johnson had 17. He added a match-high four aces, including three straight in Game 1.
"I don't think I've had it to this degree," Johnson said. "I could definitely feel tonight I was very locked in."
The matchup between the No. 1-ranked team in the state in Class 3A (Central) and the No. 1-ranked team in the state in Class 2A (Northeastern) didn't go down to the wire in front of a large crowd at Central York.
"This is definitely special, playing against a team like Northeastern," Central senior Ben Seebold said.
But Northeastern was off.
"If you can't win the server vs. passer battle it's going to be a long night," Northeastern coach Matt Wilson said. "They destroyed us from the service line, and we didn't respond well.
"This came completely out of the blue. To be honest with you, we haven't passed like that in my 21 seasons. It happened, and now we have to make sure it doesn't happen again."
The YAIAA tournament kicks off with first-round matches Monday. Central (12-0, 11-0 YAIAA) and Northeastern (13-1, 10-1) earned first-round byes in the tournament and will play in different semifinal matches Tuesday.
The Panthers, however, are coming off a dominating, one-sided performance.
"I think this team realizes it has all the elements there," Central York coach Todd Goodling said. "I think a Northeastern and Central match is always going to come down to who can serve a little tougher and who can control that first contact. That was the difference for us tonight."