Derry volleyball blanks Deer Lakes to take control of section
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Half of the 22 section title banners that hang on the right side of the Deer Lakes High School gymnasium wall belong to the volleyball program. The Lancers' collection includes banners commemorating the 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008 and 2007 seasons.
Barring a drastic shift in Section 2-AA power during the next week, Deer Lakes boys volleyball will not have a new addition at this season's end.
Derry Area (7-1, 7-0) defeated Deer Lakes (6-2, 5-2) for a second time this season, as the first-place Trojans topped the host Lancers, 3-0, Thursday night. A languid opening game left a sense of gloom over the rest of the match for Deer Lakes, which dropped the three sets by scores of 25-11, 25-23 and 25-16.
“I told the kids if this was a track meet, you guys were blown away in the first 100 yards,” Deer Lakes coach Rick Tatrn said. “For what we were playing for, that was an incredibly slow start.”
When the Lancers visited Derry Area April 2, they fell behind, 2-0, before they claimed Game 3 in a 3-1 loss. Tatrn emphasized to his players the need to thrive early in the rematch.
By the time Tatrn burned his second timeout 19 points into Game 1 on Thursday, Deer Lakes was in a state of disarray. Eight of Derry Area's first 15 points came from unforced Deer Lakes errors. Two of the Trojans' points were aces.
“One guy tries to be a good cop, and one guy tries to be the bad cop,” Tatrn said of his timeout strategy. “You try to tell them some things to fix, but nothing seemed to work.”
Derry Area, which shared the section title with Deer Lakes last season and won it over the Lancers in 2010, knew its opponent well enough to recognize the danger of easing up in Game 2 and 3.
Deer Lakes led, 21-19, and was tied at 23 in Game 2, but an unforced error and Matt Vasinko's kill down the left line delivered the game to Derry Area.
The Trojans charged out to an 8-3 lead in Game 3, endured a comeback effort by Deer Lakes, and then won 10 of the final 13 points.
Derry Area senior setter Andy Panizzi displayed his team's hitting depth, as he spread around the scoring opportunities to Josh Wannamaker (nine kills), Ethan Huston (five kills), Ian Malis (six kills) and Vasinko (seven kills). Vasinko also had three aces, and Huston and Malis combined for five blocks.
Senior Kody Buttyan led Deer Lakes with five kills and six blocks. Donny Szoszorek finished with a team-high eight kills, and Nick Roberts added six.
“I think we did a much better job serving tough here as opposed to at our place, and I thought we got some easy points,” Derry Area coach Shawn Spencer said. “If you don't serve them tough and they're able to get the ball to their two big middles (6-foot-5 Buttyan and 6-6 Szoszorek), that's a monumental task to try to stop them.”
Both Derry Area and Deer Lakes have three section matches left in their schedules. Now that the section title race likely is settled, both teams can concentrate on solidifying their credentials for playoff seeding.
“You've got to learn from this,” Tatrn said. “We've got a couple guys who might be looking for jobs on Saturday (at the Plum tournament) and wondering why they're not on the court.”
Said Spencer: “I think both teams are still kind of finding their way. I don't think any team right now is completely happy or playing their best right now. I suspect they'll get back to work, and so will we.”
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