The No. 1 question entering this YAIAA volleyball season might be what does Northeastern not have? The Bobcats should be favored not only in the league but as a PIAA Class AA contender.They return two all-state selections in Stephen and Luke Braswell, plus more. As one YAIAA coach said when asked which players are the ones to watch, he said every Northeastern player. Here’s a glance at the Bobcats and their rivals in the YAIAA this upcoming season:
1. Northeastern (14-6, 9-2): The Braswells are back. Stephen, a senior outside hitter, had 511 kills last season. Junior setter Luke had 1,090 assists. The Bobcats not only return sophomore libero Devin Soop, an All-YAIAA selection, but bring in freshman opposite/outside hitter Reese Devilbiss.
2. Central York (26-16, 8-3): The Panthers lost libero Jesse Munson, middle blocker Spencer Ortmyer and defensive specialist Lance Whitehead. What they do have in coach Brad Livingston’s 12th season as head coach is setter Dylan Hose and a pair of primary passers/left-side attackers in Josh Van Wyk and Royce Clemens. With Ortmyer graduated, the experience in the middle rests with Ryan Gardner.
3. York Suburban (17-1, 11-0 YAIAA champ): The defending league champs have junior outside hitter Jacob Kauffman, who returns after a season with 255 kills, 89 blocks and 80 aces. Senior middle hitter Brad Hartshorne also returns after 127 kills and 92 blocks last year. However, the Trojans lost eight seniors and five starters from last season’s team.
4. Dover (13-5, 9-2): The Eagles are replacing six of seven starters from last season, but coach Chris Kennedy likes his depth. Back this year is junior outside hitter Brendan Warren, who had 175 kills, 211 digs and 24 aces. Seniors Joe Abate (middle hitter), Chipper Lindeman (setter) and Jake Bradley (middle hitter) round out the Eagles to watch.
5. Susquehannock (6-7, 6-5): Two seniors, middle hitter Tim Frey and outside hitter Alex Miller, are back with junior hitter Nathan Rohrbaugh and sophomore A.J. Schaeffer.
Around the league
– Red Lion (3-8, 3-8): The Lions will rely on senior outside hitter Jake Frey, senior Dan Jones, junior setter Dan Longnecker and junior Jared Warner.
– Kennard-Dale (3-8, 3-8): The Rams return four seniors — Nate Ellis, Dylan Tessier, Jordan Sommer and Vince Failla, one of the leaders on the school’s basketball team.
– New Oxford (0-11, 0-11): Lacking height, Colonials coach Katie O’Brien said her team will must be a defensive team. Returning seniors include middle hitters Tyler Steckbeck and Ross Starner.
– West York (1-13, 1-10): The Bulldogs graduated seven players from last season, and coach Andrew Rohrbaugh said numbers are down as the Bulldogs look to build. West York is two years removed from a District 3 appearance.