Saegertown too much for Deer Lakes in PIAA opener
MEADVILLE — The first PIAA volleyball playoff appearance for Deer Lakes in four seasons was a short one.
The Lancers bowed out with a 3-1 loss to District 10 champion Saegertown in opening round Class AA action Wednesday night.
Panthers senior Peter Mattocks proved to be too much for Deer Lakes. The Westminster soccer recruit showed why he's one of the top volleyball players in Western Pennsylvania with 30 kills, including two key ones in the first set that set the tone for the match.
In the second set, five straight service points from Mattocks proved to be vital after Deer Lakes had taken a 10-9 lead.
The Panthers (15-1) will take on WPIAL champion Beaver County Christian in the quarterfinals Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
Deer Lakes finished another solid season with a 14-5 record.
A service ace by Lancers senior Josh Noble in the fourth set prevented a Saegertown sweep.
“Peter's a special player,” Saegertown coach Justin Johnson said. “This is nothing new. He's been doing it since his sophomore season. He's been a big part of our team and he came through, big time, tonight when we needed it.”
“We watched some film on them, but it didn't do them justice,” Deer Lakes coach Zak Roberts said. “That No. 12 (Mattocks) over there can take control of games. They can set him up in the back row, the front row, you can't stop him. Maybe you can get lucky, and he makes some errors and you can funnel him into what you want to do on defense.”
After a 25-19 loss in the first set, Deer Lakes had several leads before the Saegertown surge.
“Everyone says that volleyball is momentum-based, and he (Mattocks) was able to get the kills at the right time,” Roberts said. “If we started to fight back and accumulate a few points in a row, he was there to put a ball back down and control the match again. They knew where to serve. They knew the right spots on the floor where our people were playing.”
It was fitting that a ferocious kill by Mattocks secured the second set 25-16.
But Deer Lakes didn't travel 92 miles to go away meekly. The Lancers played well in the third set and came away with a 26-24 decision.
“My prediction before the night was that one team wasn't going to win in three,” Roberts said. “I knew Saegertown was very good, but I think my team is very good. I'm happy that we were able to walk out of here with at least a game.”
Deer Lakes fell behind, 19-7, in the fourth set and lost 25-14 to quash any hopes of taking it to a fifth set.
“We played OK, not as well as we'd been playing,” Johnson said. “They ran a little bit quicker offense and caught us off guard.”
Deer Lakes was seeking its third state title to go with championship banners from 1978 and 2011.
Senior Mark Kopinski is headed for Thiel and some of his fellow seniors might also play collegiate volleyball, according to Roberts.
The only Saegertown loss this season was to Northeastern York, the team it lost the PIAA title game to last season.
George Guido is a freelance writer.