Deer Lakes volleyball battles through early-season adversity

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Sunday, April 18, 2021 | 5:45 PM


A year after the coronavirus pandemic canceled its entire season, the Deer Lakes boys volleyball team still is dealing with the virus. The Lancers aren’t letting it completely nix their season this time around, though.

Most recently, Deer Lakes has dealt with a shutdown that will keep it off the court until Monday and forced it to postpone two games. But it also has dealt with a few close-contact issues that left it without certain players at times.

But the Lancers (2-1, 2-0) have continued to battle through the adversity.

“The seniors that we have understand that this is something you can’t take for granted. You have to be happy every time you are on the court because you don’t know when that last time is going to be,” Deer Lakes first-year coach BJ Reiher said. “Whether it’s your fault or no fault of your own, it could just end. It’s been frustrating.”

The Lancers started the season 2-1 overall and undefeated in Section 2-AA play with wins over Derry and Gateway. Their lone loss came in a match against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. While battling through covid issues and getting used to each other on the court, the Lancers have been looking for consistency.

They’ve shown what they are capable of, but there have been times when their lack of experience has shown.

Both sides of the coin were evident during their section matches. Against Derry on April 6, the Lancers lost their first two games but turned around to win the final three and come away with a 3-2 victory.

The same thing happened against Gateway, except the Lancers caught themselves in the second game and rallied to win 3-1.

“It was good to get out there and play some section competition and kind of work through some struggles and some adversity as we were playing,” Reiher said. “I think it will make us tougher as we move forward.”

Reiher believes the pressure of playing from behind might have helped them, and it gives him confidence.

“Their demeanor doesn’t really change, and if anything, they might calm down a little bit, which is a good thing,” Reiher said. “They are a little anxious and nervous to start, but as things go on, they relax because what’s the worst that could happen? When they relax, they play closer and closer to their potential.”

So far through this season, seniors Tristan Hineman, Paul Zalus and captain Devin Reiher, who is BJ Reiher’s nephew, have given the Lancers a quality group on which to lean. Zalus has made the transition from middle to outside hitter, opposite of the younger Reiher, and Hineman has played middle hitter this season.

“They’ve been pretty good and pretty solid for us,” Reiher said. “They’ve kind of been the core of the team.”

The Lancers can return to practice Monday, and they return to section play Wednesday against Mars. Reiher is looking forward to seeing how his team responds after the layoff.

“We’ll see really quick how interested we are and how much our mental reps have helped us and how much the physical layoff has set us back,” Reiher said.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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