Derry boys volleyball eliminated from PIAA tourney

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Saturday, June 2, 2018 | 8:00 PM


An off day resulted in an early offseason for the Derry boys volleyball team.

The Trojans struggled to find a rhythm Saturday afternoon and dropped a 3-1 decision to Cambridge Springs in a PIAA Class AA quarterfinal at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

Even though Derry (14-5) won the first set, 25-20, something seemed off for the Trojans. They broke open a 14-13 lead for a 20-15 edge and held on for the victory. But the momentum didn't last.

“We won the first set, but I was not overly thrilled with how we played. I thought we were tentative in everything we were doing, from our passing to our setting and serving,” Derry coach Shawn Spencer said. “I thought that remained true most of the match. I felt like we were real tight today.”

Derry, playing without libero Alex Murphy, fell behind 14-6 in the second set and the Blue Devils (16-1) claimed a 25-16 win.

“We had to make a change to our lineup because our starting libero is on vacation. We had to plug in a few different things, and it caught up with us,” Spencer said. “I don't think the kids were quite as comfortable as they have been.”

The third set was close throughout as no team led by more than three points until Cambridge Springs, which claimed its first District 10 championship since 1997, pulled ahead. Jeff Perratone's kill cut Derry's deficit to 18-16 with a block, but the Blue Devils scored the next four points for a 22-16 advantage. They posted a 25-18 win.

Cambridge Springs raced to a 7-1 lead in the fourth set. The Trojans spent most of the set clawing their way back, and a 4-0 run trimmed their deficit to 11-10. However, the Blue Devils answered with an 11-5 spree and posted a 25-18 victory.

“I thought Cambridge Springs played great defense and was really scrappy and dug a lot of balls,” Spencer said. “I don't think we gave ourselves a real good chance with the way we were serving and the way we were setting. I just felt like we were tight. I felt like the kids were worried about making mistakes and not playing free-flowing volleyball. If you do that, you're not going to have success if you play not to lose.”

The victory gave Cambridge Springs some revenge for a defeat to Derry at the York tournament near the start of the regular season.

“Derry is a quality team,” Cambridge Springs coach Randy Sovisky said. “We're a different team than we were down at York. We made some changes in our offense and defense and setter from the first time we played them, and it has paid dividends for us.”

The Blue Devils move on to face Manheim Central, a 3-0 winner over Ambridge, in Tuesday's semifinals.

Perratone led Derry with 15 kills and nine digs. John Kerr added 15 digs and 11 kills. Nathan Marinchek added 35 assists and 13 digs. The Trojans graduate eight seniors: Matt Palombo, Nick Johnston, Damon Hamacher, Travis Stouffer, Ethan Sellong, Zack Kochis, Jake Griffin and Perratone.

“It's a tremendous group of kids. It'll be different not seeing them,” Spencer said. “Most of them played for four years, and that's always the case with every graduating class. This one did some special things with a couple state playoff appearances. It'll be tough to see them go.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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