Former Derry volleyball standout prospering at St. Francis

| Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

As a high school freshman at Derry, Logan Patterson stood barely 5-foot-10 and was primarily a baseball player.

Just one year — and one big growth spurt — later, he found himself as an imposing 6-foot-3 hitter on the volleyball court.

“Size is the biggest thing in volleyball,” Patterson said. “You can be a very athletic and talented 5-foot-10 kid, but you're just not going to make it very far because you're not big. So once I hit that growth spurt, I said this was definitely a sport I could see myself playing.”

Flash forward five years, and Patterson is the centerpiece of the St. Francis University men's volleyball team.

The 6-foot-6 junior outside hitter is one of the primary reasons why the Red Flash survived its rigorous early-season schedule against top-15 teams Penn State, Ohio State (twice) and Lewis University with an 8-10 record.

After enjoying two successful seasons at St. Francis, where he was second on the team in kills last season with 251, Patterson has evolved into the go-to guy in head coach Mike Rumbaugh's offense. He leads the team in points (270) and kills (243) while ranking third in digs with 83.

While the season is still in its early stages, the former Derry star is starting to grow accustomed to his increased role on the team.

“I know and expect to get a good bit of the sets going in, and I just try to be smart with my shots and be confident,” Patterson said. “I really just try to go in and have faith in my ability, and however many sets I get — if it's all of them or a normal amount — I just try and do the best I can with them and try really hard not to put extra pressure on myself.”

His coach has certainly tried to make him the focal point of the offense.

“The way the offense kind of runs is we want his arm swing,” Rumbaugh said. “We want him to be putting balls away.”

Patterson, a pharmacy major, listed his strengths as his swing and his attack on the ball while continuing to improve on his passing.

“He has a very good jump,” Rumbaugh said. “He's contacting the ball above 11 feet and has a very fast arm. I think those are two of his biggest strengths. I think he's worked into becoming a pretty good passer.”

Rumbaugh said Patterson makes his teammates better because opposing teams have to account for where is on the court at all times.

While his play on the court speaks for itself, Patterson has tried to voice his leadership as well.

“I think now that I'm a junior I'm more of a vocal leader than I was in the past,” Patterson said. “When you're young, you kind of don't want to stand up and open your mouth too much. But now that I'm an upperclassman myself, I really try and take on that role.”

The Red Flash faced with a tough schedule and Patterson has responded, leading the team in points in two games against No. 10 Ohio State. Despite losing both games to the Buckeyes, Patterson believes those games make not only him, but the whole team better.

“We played both Ohio State and Lewis University and they're ranked, and they put up a big block and play great defense,” Patterson said. “That really tests you as a player to go out and do what you're supposed to do.”

With plenty of time left in the season, the former all-state selection is hoping to lead St. Francis through its Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association schedule successfully and continue to improve.

And while humble, Patterson sets the bar high for himself.

“When I left high school I really wanted, at some time in my four years here, to put up All-American numbers and be a first- or second-team All-American,” Patterson said. “That would be a personal goal of mine.

“We have a pretty strong team this year and next year, and we could do some damage in our conference. I'd really like to win the EIVA as well.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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