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Deer Lakes wins, Plum loses in WPIAL volleyball quarterfinals

| Friday, May 18, 2012, 12:32 a.m.

Defending WPIAL and PIAA Class AA champion Deer Lakes, slow to get out of the gate after a layoff, gained momentum late in the first game and rolled to a 3-0 victory over Hopewell in the WPIAL volleyball quarterfinals Thursday at Seneca Valley High School.

With Deer Lakes leading, 23-19, late in the first game, coach Rick Tatrn called a timeout.

“I was hoping I didn't have to call one; my kids don't like timeouts,” he said. “I was biding my time, but then I needed to address them right there and raise some hell.”

The Lancers took off, winning the first game, 25-19. Deer Lakes completed the sweep with 25-12 and 25-8 victories. No. 2 seed Deer Lakes (10-1) will play No. 3 Derry in Tuesday's semifinals.

Hopewell (5-7), which was coming off a major upset of Seton-La Salle on Tuesday, created some concern for Deer Lakes.

“They're not a bad team; they need a little more firepower,” Tatrn said. “I was concerned — we'd seen them play twice before. But were a little rusty in game one; we didn't play Tuesday and hadn't played since last Thursday and didn't scrimmage anybody.”

Senior Tony Nicotera had 17 kills to lead the Lancers. Sean McTigue added eight kills, and Donny Szoszorek and Kody Buttyan both had seven. Junior Zach Guiciardi contributed 28 assists.

Seneca Valley 3, Plum 0 — After losing the first two games, 25-21 and 25-19, Class AAA No. 7 seed Plum started out strong in Game 3 by leading, 7-0, early.

The second-seeded Raiders worked their way back, finally tying the Mustangs at 19. The game see-sawed the rest of the way, with Seneca Valley pulling out a 28-26 decision.

“We came out strong in that third game; we didn't want to go out three-zip,” Plum coach Mike Larko Jr. said. “I couldn't ask any more of them. I thought we played very well tonight against the No. 2 seed in the WPIAL and the state, but it wasn't enough.”

“We were pretty happy winning that third one and not having to go to a fourth game and a fifth because you never know what is going to happen,” Seneca Valley coach Dan Mountain said. “Plum's setter (Zach Miller) was one of the best players we've seen all season long.”

Seneca Valley (12-1) will face No. 3 Norwin in the semifinals Tuesday. Chad Albert led the Raiders with 19 kills, and Matt McCloskey had 35 assists.

Bryan Parker led Plum (9-5) with eight kills, and Eric Theiss had seven. John Kann contributed five blocks, and Zach Miller had eight digs.

“We had a couple matches we probably should have won,” Larko said. “Overall, we had injuries and adversity throughout, but I think that's good for any team. We're looking forward to next year.”

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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