STATE COLLEGE - Heading into this weekend, there was only one thing left for Northeastern's boys' volleyball team to accomplish this season.

The Bobcats had already reached their first three goals of winning the YAIAA regular season, the YAIAA tournament and the District 3 Class AA tourney.

On Saturday at Penn State University's multisport indoor facility, Northeastern had but one thing left on its plate - win the PIAA Class AA championship.

And when Luke Braswell put a perfect back-set into the swing of freshman sensation Reese Devilbiss, the Bobcats were on the cusp.

Seconds later, Northeastern was a state champion for the second time in four years after Devilbiss slammed home his 20th kill of the match that secured the Bobcats' 3-1 win over Ambridge.

"I am just thinking, 'Put it away,' because I had an error on the last one and I was mad," Braswell said of the final point. "I gave it to him hoping he would put it away and he did."

It just one of the many plays made by Devilbiss, who added 10 digs, was a part of five blocks and knocked in two aces.

"My freshman year was awesome. I'm excited for the next few years I have," Devilbiss said.

"Reese stepped up tonight. He was amazing.


I don't think I have seen him play that well his entire life. He just flat out dominated," said senior Stephen Braswell, who added 17 kills, eight digs, two assists, a block and an ace.

"He hasn't been nervous all year. It's really impressive to see. When you look at him from our standpoint, he is not a freshman, he is Reese and that is what he does."

Northeastern coach Matt Wilson was thrilled to see his team reach its goals - which was no easy task.

"Honestly, it hardly ever happens. You can do everything and still not get that last one or somewhere along the line you skip one," he said. "To me, that is probably the most remarkable part."

"That was one of our goals at the very beginning of the season was to sweep all four championships, and we did," senior Malik Jefferson said.

"Ever since September we came in and worked hard in the offseason. We just planed that we wanted to win all four," junior Matt Hollinger added.

As the Bobcats stormed the court in celebration, they became the YAIAA's 10th state volleyball championship, proving the league to be among the best in the state. In fact, it was the fourth straight year the YAIAA had a team in a Class AA or AAA PIAA championship match.

One year ago, York Suburban lost to Bethlehem Catholic in the finals. The season before, Central York captured its fifth state title, which came one year after Northeastern won its third crown, the first under Wilson.

In fact, every year since 2004, the YAIAA has had a team advance to at least the PIAA semifinals. That list includes six different teams, with Eastern York, Dover and 2005 state champ New Oxford joining the other aforementioned trio.

The Bobcats continued a District 3 tradition that now includes 13 consecutive years winning one of the two state volleyball titles.

Northeastern dominated the first game, besting the District 7 champs 25-15, only to see the Bridgers come back and take the second set, 25-23.

The Bobcats trailed the pivotal third game, 14-12, and 16-14, before going on a four-point run with a Devin Soop kill, a block from Casey Winand and a Devilbiss slam.

Ambridge tied that game at 18, but saw an attack hit the net and Stephen Braswell slammed down the next score for a 20-18 Bobcat lead. The sides traded points until Stephen Braswell and Malik Jefferson went back-to-back for kills, increasing the lead to 23-20.

Jefferson followed another Bridgers' point with a kill and a short while later, Devilbiss ended that game.

Thanks to two early kills and two blocks from Devilbiss, Northeastern opened a 7-3 lead in the final set.

After Ambridge pulled to within 11-10, the Bobcats ran off six straight points, and the huge crowd of Bobcat supporters that made the trip to State College could sense a championship in the works.

Still, the Bridgers weren't done, using a four-point run to cut the Northeastern lead to 21-18, but Phillip White notched his ninth kill to end that run. Ambridge scored the next two points before a Devilbiss kill and Winand block put match point on the table.

Consecutive kills by 6-foot-5 , Bridgers junior Lee Smith made it a two-point game, but Luke Braswell (30 assists, 10 digs, a kill and block) and Devilbiss ended the match on the next play.

"It feels great to win the state championships. That was our whole goal to win states, and we did that," Luke Braswell said.

@stevenavaroli; 771-2060

A decade of excellence

The YAIAA has seen its share of boys' volleyball success at the PIAA level in the last 10 years:

2012: York Suburban lost in the PIAA Class AA championship match
2012: Dover lost in the PIAA Class AA semifinals
2011: Central York won the PIAA Class AAA championship
2011: Northeastern lost in the PIAA Class AA semifinals
2010: Northeastern won the PIAA Class AA championship
2009: Northeastern lost in PIAA Class AA semifinals
2008: Central York lost in PIAA Class AAA championship match
2008: Eastern York lost in PIAA Class AA semifinals
2007: Northeastern lost in PIAA Class AA championship match
2006: Northeastern lost in PIAA semifinals*
2005: New Oxford won the PIAA championship*
2004: Northeastern lost in PIAA semifinals*

*PIAA had just one classification

More coverage

  • Replay live updates from the GameTimePA reporting crew and the Bobcat faithful

  • Bobcats won't be denied: Northeastern collects PIAA gold

  • See a slideshow from Northeastern's victory

  • Notebook: Noise from Northeastern fans made a difference

  • Fans give Bobcats a champion's welcome