Derry volleyball back on track in PIAA playoffs

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Friday, June 1, 2018 | 6:36 PM


It didn't take Derry's boys volleyball time long to refocus.

After watching a 2-0 lead over Ambridge in the WPIAL Class AA title match disappear in a five-set defeat, the Trojans regrouped for a run at a PIAA championship. They opened the tournament with an efficient 25-21, 25-22, 25-18 win over Bishop Guilfoyle on Tuesday.

“When you fall down, you have to get back up and you have to get back at it,” Derry coach Shawn Spencer said. “We got some nice revenge against Bishop Guilfoyle. We lost to them earlier, but we found a way to put it all together and get the job done the second time against them.”

The Marauders (11-5), the District 6 champs, posted a 25-15, 15-23, 23-25, 25-21 home win over Derry on May 2.

“We certainly try to schedule matches against top-notch teams so we can get a taste of what we'll have to do if we want to have some success in the WPIAL playoffs and state playoffs. It was good for the kids to see that they'd have to play pretty well to beat them because they are a good team,” Spencer said. “(This time) I felt pretty comfortable how we were playing from the start. The games were close, but I didn't feel like, at any point, we were in trouble. I wasn't overly concerned because we were doing what we needed to do. I felt pretty good about it.”

Spencer hopes that carries over to Saturday's PIAA quarterfinal matchup against Cambridge Springs at 4:30 p.m. at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic. The Blue Devils (15-1), who won District 10, beat Montour, 26-28, 25-17, 15-23, 24-14, on Tuesday.

“We played them a couple games at the York tournament in early April. We won both of those games, but they were close and they are a good team. It just comes down to which team plays the best that night,” Spencer said.

“District 10 teams are always scrappy. Defensively, they really get after it and make you earn anything you're going to get. They extend points by playing good defense, and the kids have to be prepared to play the entire point. It's not going to end on the first swing.”

Derry setter Nathaniel Marinchek overcame illness Tuesday and is expected to be fine for Saturday's match.

“He was a game-time decision. He was under the weather all day with a stomach virus, and we really weren't sure he was going to be able to play,” Spencer said. “He stepped up big time and came out and led the kids. He showed the kids that he'd put it on the line for them. I think the other guys stepped up their game because he was doing that.”

Ethan Sellong gave the Trojans a spark with 10 kills and five blocks.

“He was a dominant force in the middle for us,” Spencer said. “He gave them fits all night, which, in turn, freed up some of our other kids for some easy kills.”

Saturday's winner meets the Ambridge vs. Manheim Central winner in next Tuesday's PIAA semifinals.

“Just like I have been preaching all year — there are three seasons to a sport: the regular season, WPIAL playoffs and state playoffs. Each one is a new season,” Spencer said. “I think each time a new season gets here, it builds excitement. The kids find a way to turn up their game a bit and find a way to get more focused.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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