After limited early schedule, Gateway volleyball expects busy stretch to end season

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Sunday, May 2, 2021 | 11:01 AM


The Gateway boys volleyball team has been looking for consistency to its 2021 spring season, but with covid stoppages and postponed games, it has been a challenge.

But junior setter Ryan Bozicevic sounded positive and optimistic recently as the Gators, who had played just two matches through April 29, hope to get rolling as the regular season enters its final stretch.

“For being an almost new team this year, we have developed really good chemistry,” Bozicevic said. “We are seeing that we communicate really well.”

Gateway is hoping chemistry and communication translates to the court. This past week, covid issues with a pair of Section 2-AA opponents kept the Gators from competing.

“It was frustrating because we really wanted to play those matches and go for a couple of wins,” said junior outside hitter Chris Lewis, referring to matches against both Derry and Deer Lakes last Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, that were called off because of covid issues with both schools.

Gateway was able to schedule a nonsection match for last Thursday against former section rival Penn Hills.

“Once we get into a flow with matches, I think we will see pretty good results,” Lewis said.

Gateway was to begin its stretch run Tuesday at home against Mars. Both the Penn Hills match and the contest against the Planets were to be contested past the deadline for this week’s edition.

The Gators are looking forward to matches at Derry on Thursday and at Deer Lakes on Saturday, followed by home matches with Plum and Derry on May 11 and 12, respectively.

A second section match with Plum hadn’t been rescheduled as of this week’s deadline. It all makes for a busy final week or two in the regular season.

“This spring has been absolutely nuts, especially with how many new bodies we have, guys coming in from other sports and everything else,” Gateway coach Phil Randolph said.

“The last match we played, six of our eight guys were essentially first-year players. There were a few of those guys who would most likely have started last year, but we didn’t get past just the one scrimmage. To have so much new blood and have so much inconsistency in terms of how things were supposed to unfold (with the schedule) versus how they have unfolded, it’s been very difficult.”

Gateway started the season April 8 at home against Deer Lakes. The Gators won the first game, but the Lancers rallied for three straight to take the match.

The same thing happened against Mars on April 13, where the Planets came back from a one-game deficit to capture three games in a row and send Gateway to an 0-2 record in section play.

“In both of those matches, you would be able to see pieces move in the right direction, but it was frustrating to not be able to follow up on (the first-game wins) in real time,” Randolph said.

The Gators then went on a covid pause starting April 14 that gobbled up a scheduled game against Derry on April 15 and extended through a match with Plum on April 20.

“There was awesome energy coming from the guys when they were able to come back,” Randolph said. “Once it was safe to return to practices, the guys were ready to do whatever they could to get better. There has been growing pains, but the guys realize that and have kept working hard.”

Junior outside hitter Will Kromka missed the early part of the season while recovering from a fractured wrist suffered late in the basketball season. But with the wrist taped, he has returned to the court and expects to be a big factor for the Gators in the stretch run to a possible playoff spot.

“Will is an absolute game changer in every way,” Randolph said. “He is wildly gifted physically, and he has that ability to communicate and bring the team together on the court. He sets the pace for everything that we do. Of course, I would’ve loved to have played some of our games when they were originally scheduled, but it is a silver lining to have him back with most of our section games still to be played.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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