Derry volleyball to use playoff loss as motivation next season
Even with an inexperienced team and a small front line, members of the Derry girls volleyball team found themselves in a familiar place — the playoffs.
The Trojans, who made the playoffs for the 14th year in a row under the leadership of coach Brock Smith, finished the season 7-6 overall and a 6-4 Section 3-AA. But the season came to an end with a 3-2 loss to Quaker Valley in the preliminary round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
“It was a well played match. It was very close. Things could have been different if we didn't make two or three mistakes,” Smith said. “(The loss was) disheartening because I knew the whole team wouldn't be back to play together again. The season was a testament to the will of the team and the four seniors.”
The Trojans offense ran through junior setter Nina Beatrice, who recorded 370 assists in section play.
Beatrice distributed the ball to the two junior middle hitters, Katerina Hamerski and Lauren Henderson, and outside hitters Alexis Gademsey, a senior, and junior Maddie Deluca.
Hamerski led the team with 120 kills in section play, while Deluca ended section play with 92 kills. Gademsey (91) and Henderson (84) rounded out the top four leaders in kills.
“Nina did a good job in getting the ball to the right spot and the right hitters that should be getting ball,” Smith said. “Going into the year, I was seeing who was going to step up and Nina did a great job with spreading the ball around.”
Derry finished third in Section 3-AA, behind Indiana and Kittanning. Smith said he was pleased with the continued improvement of the team as the season went along.
“Overall, as the year progressed it went OK. The lack of experience and varsity playing time showed early on, but we eventually got used to playing with each other,” Smith said. “You saw the improvement with the team with the second turn within section play.”
Losing the fewest seniors in more than a decade, Derry will rely on nine returning lettermen next season.
But the Trojans will have to find someone to take over the spot vacated by Gademsey at right outside hitter.
“Hopefully, with the lessons we learned this season, the girls returning will make sure that ending the season one and done in the playoffs won't happen next year,” Smith said. “As they get back in the fold toward the end of the offseason, hopefully the Quaker Valley loss in the playoffs will be incentive for them to build off for next year.”
Andrew John is a freelance writer.