Northeastern handles pressure on way to title game
Northeastern boys' volleyball is attempting to win its fourth consecutive state championship when it plays Saturday in the PIAA title game at Rec Hall in State College. The Bobcats will once again be supported by a large group of faithful followers. Jim Seip, GameTimePA.com
If the pressure ever got to Northeastern, its players never showed any signs of it this year.
They were expected to win the league title. They did it.
They were expected to win their fourth straight District 3 title. They did it.
And now the Bobcats will go up against Ambridge at 11 a.m. Saturday at Rec Hall in State College to vie for their fourth consecutive state title. By the way, they’re expected to win that too. But even when the pressure continued to mount Northeastern answered the call.
“This is a very mature team,” Northeastern head coach Matt Wilson said. “They’ve handled (the pressure) extremely well. … Evidenced by our record at 22-0. We haven’t dropped a set. We don’t always talk about those things, but it’s pretty remarkable."
Northeastern is on the verge of doing something else remarkable on Saturday. They’ve already become the first team since Hempfield to reach four straight state championship games, a feat Hempfield accomplished from 2001 to 2004 while also winning the state title all four years.
So Northeastern has matched one feat and they’ll be looking to match the other as well, but to do so they’ll have to go through Ambridge. The Bridgers are coming off a 3-2 win over Saegertown Tuesday.
The Bridgers are a familiar foe for Northeastern, who defeated them in back to back years to win state titles. Ambridge gave the Bobcats perhaps their toughest competition in a championship game, forcing the match to go four games in 2013. The Bobcats won the next two state championships in sweeps.
Saturday’s title bout will feature two teams that have experience playing on the big stage. For Wilson, he expects his guys to draw upon that.
“We’ve been there done that,” he said. “So for us it should be something from an experience standpoint that isn’t new. I think we go back and fix a few things and relax, and start to enjoy it a little bit more. So that’s going to be the message.”
The Bobcats will approach Saturday the same way they have every other game this year. That includes how they’ve handled being anointed to return to the state title game all season long.
“We just try to keep our minds off of everything,” Reese Devilbiss said. “We don’t really worry too much about what goes on and what’s being said around us. We just try to do our own thing and win.”
PIAA state volleyball championship game
Who: Northeastern vs. Ambridge
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Rec Hall, State College