Derry volleyball coach reflects on Trojans' special season
TribLIVE Sports Videos
When the season started, Derry boys volleyball coach Shawn Spencer knew what kind of team he had. He just didn't know how far the team would go.
“I knew coming in that this was going to be a good team,” Spencer said. “What I didn't know is where we would finish.
“There are a lot of other good teams out there.”
The Trojans saw their season come to an end last week with a 3-1 loss to Ambridge in the PIAA Class AA semifinals. Ambridge also defeated Derry in the WPIAL finals last month 3-0.
“My kids competed hard,” Spencer said of the PIAA loss to Ambridge. “They gave it everything they had, but we just didn't play well enough to win.”
The Bridgers took the first set 25-23, then Derry evened the match by taking the second set 30-28. Ambridge won the next two sets to clinch the victory.
The Trojans finished the 2014 season with a 12-2 record, including a perfect 8-0 mark in Section 2-AA competition.
Spencer had an experienced and versatile group of players at his disposal all season. The Trojans utilized several different lineup combinations throughout the year and still managed to rack up victories on their way to the section championship.
The constant through all of the lineup shuffling was senior outside hitter Matt Vasinko, a Juniata College recruit, who set a school record for kills in a career with 1,168.
A three-year starter, Vasinko showed his coach he was an impact player from the time he stepped on the court three years ago.
“As a sophomore, I put him out there with juniors and seniors,” Spencer said of Vasinko. “By the end of the season, he'd found his way and was one of the top two outside hitters on the team.
“He's one of the best players I've had the opportunity to coach.”
This year's crop of seniors is going to be as tough to replace for their actions off the court as much as on it, according to their coach.
“These kids are tremendous volleyball players, but they're quality people too,” Spencer said. “They represented Derry volleyball and the school very well.”
Vasinko led the Trojans in kills this season with 369. Fellow senior Izaak Fulmer-Moffat notched a team-best 270 digs from the libero spot. Junior middle hitter Ian Malis collected a team-high 65 blocks on the year.
Fulmer-Moffat and senior outside hitter Sam Watters combined for 73 aces this season, and junior defensive specialist Jake Zemba dished out 711 assists.
Derry earned a bye in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA tournament. The Trojans beat Thomas Jefferson in the quarterfinals, then dispatched Beaver County Christian in the semifinals to reach the championship match.
By finishing as the WPIAL runner-up, Derry entered the state tournament as the No. 2 seed from District 7. The Trojans notched straight-set wins against Bishop Guilfoyle and Schuylkill Valley to reach the semifinals.
“This team found a way,” Spencer said. “They rose to the challenge and had an exceptional season.
“I'm proud of them.”
Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Freeport, Ford City set for playoff battle
- Plum girls volleyball falls in three sets in first round at Baldwin
- Fox Chapel volleyball coach reflects on season
- Derry girls volleyball goes down swinging in WPIAL Class AA playoffs
- Frazier struggles to find answers against Shenango in WPIAL volleyball quarterfinals
- Freeport girls rally past Montour to reach WPIAL volleyball semifinals
- Thomas Jefferson earns spot in volleyball semifinals after downing South Fayette for 3rd time
- High school roundup: North Allegheny volleyball tops No. 1 Shaler
- Freeport, Ford City prepare for volleyball quarterfinals
- Ford City volleyball team advances to WPIAL semifinals with 3-1 win over Seton-La Salle
- Thomas Jefferson senior looking forward to RMU volleyball career