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Last updated: June 03. 2014 11:53PM - 1766 Views
By - psokoloski@timesleader.com



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BETHLEHEM - Surrounded by an overpowering opponent relentlessly delivering tomahawk chops, Mike Prociak planted himself for one last stand.


He made a kill. He blocked a shot. He slammed down a spike, helping to create some suspense for a little while.


It wasn’t enough to keep Holy Redeemer’s boys volleyball season going.


Philip White and Jefferey Reynolds combined for 17 kills and Reese Devilbiss served 15 points Tuesday as defending state champion Northeastern blasted Redeemer, 3-0 in a PIAA Class 2A semifinal game at Bethlehem’s Freedom High School.


“I’m not sure we can beat them on our best day of the year,” an awed Holy Redeemer coach Jack Kablick said. “That might be the best team I’ve seen in three or four years. If there’s any team in the state that’s going to beat them, I need to see it.”


What the Royals saw Tuesday was a steady array of wicked shots that either handcuffed or simply overwhelmed Redeemer’s normally-solid ballhandlers — reflected on the scoreboard in Northeastern’s 25-13, 25-9, 25-15 win.


How dominant were the Bobcats?


Redeemer grabbed a 1-0 lead to start the day when the match’s first serve went into the net, and didn’t lead again until Royals setter Mike Conlan made a crafty kill to open the third set. Those were the only times Redeemer held an advantage, and both leads evaporated with the very next point.


“It’s just, they have so many threats at one time,” Prociak said. “(And) they have a lot of experience (playing) this far in the playoffs.”


Even the hard-hitting Prociak found difficulty at the net, as the dinks that served him so well in the state quarterfinals were all returned by Northeastern’s quick, attacking defenders and some of his best shots at spikes were blocked back for points.


“They really are a solid-blocking team,” Prociak said. “Their blocking advantage is one of the best in the state.”


It didn’t take the Bobcats long to show why they wound up as the PIAA’s best Class 2A team last season, and why they could be again after Saturday’s state title game.


Devilbiss had a quick kill and a block in the first game, then served a string of six straight points — including two aces — to put Northeastern up 12-3.


In the second set, Braswell had an early block and a kill, then Devilbiss served two more aces among his string of seven straight service points that put the Bobcats in control again, 16-4.


They were set up by Penn State-bound Luke Braswell, who was all over the court.


“That’s a credit to Luke Braswell, who might be the best setter in the state,” Kablick said.


Redeemer actually hung tough during the second half of both sets, but never seriously challenged Northeastern’s lead.


“We were going point-for-point for awhile,” Kablick said. “But you can’t do that when you’re down six, seven points. I was disappointed in the way we played the first two sets. I thought our passing was poor in the first two sets, which is uncharacteristic for us.”


The third set was a little different.


Prociak made a kill, Northeastern made an unforced error and Prociak blocked a shot as the Royals pulled even, 4-4.


“We came into this game thinking we can definitely win,” Prociak said. “We came with a different gameplan today. But this is one of those teams that can adapt to anything. That’s what’s so difficult about playing them.”


And while Prociak finished with a team-high nine kills and three blocks while John Carr added seven kills, it did little to thwart Northeastern’s onslaught of spikes.


***


Holy Redeemer`13`9`15


Northeastern`25`25`25


Holy Redeemer: Mike Prociak 9 kills, 3 blocks; John Carr 7 kills; Mike Conlan 16 assists. Northeastern: Philip White 9 kills; Jefferey Reynolds 8 kills; Reese Devilbiss 5 kills, 15 service points, 4 aces; Luke Braswell 5 kills, 3 blocks; Casey Winand 7 kills.


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