Derry volleyball faces challenging start to season
By: Joe Sager
Sunday, March 24, 2019 | 8:10 PM
Derry’s boys volleyball team began the season ranked among the top WPIAL Class 2A teams.
However, the Trojans will find out just exactly where they are — and where they need to be — after a daunting start to the season. They opened with a 3-1 loss to Northeastern, which has won the last six PIAA titles, and followed that with an appearance at the North Allegheny tournament.
“Our start of the season is pretty tough, and I think that’s good,” Derry coach Shawn Spencer said. “It allows the kids to see where they have to get to. We have a big challenge now, and I think the kids are looking forward to it.”
In addition, a Tuesday match against defending WPIAL champ Ambridge and a Thursday match at Deer Lakes, an annual contender, await.
“We have a pretty tough schedule ahead if us. It’s great to have good competition instead of going through the preseason against easy teams,” Derry senior outside hitter John Kerr said. “It’s good to see these top teams now so you know what you’ll see when you get in the playoffs. It’s real good that we’re playing these tough teams. We are excited about it.”
The Trojans feel good about the early tests because they welcome an experienced core back in senior starters Jason Geary, Nathan Marinchek, Alex Murphy, Dom DeLuca and Kerr. However, a knee injury suffered during wrestling season will keep DeLuca sidelined for at least the near future.
“We’ve had some sickness going around, too, so we’re battling through all that. I think we have enough to do pretty well,” Spencer said. “I think we have a core group that sort of separated from the rest of the group, but I think the guys behind them are not that far behind. I’m not afraid to play any of them in any situations. We have 16 guys dressing varsity, and I expect all 16 to contribute at some point. All can do some things well and can help this team out and be successful.”
Derry welcomed back Colt Nemcheck. The senior missed all of last season with a knee injury but is back at outside hitter along with Kerr and Geary.
“John is a very exceptional high school volleyball player. He can play any position in the front row. He can control the ball well, too. There’s not much he can’t do. He is going to be our go-to player, for sure. I think he’s looking forward to that challenge and ready to meet it,” Spencer said. “Jason Geary has a heavy arm and hits the ball extremely hard. He has good experience. It’s nice to have Colt back. He is a big leaper with a big arm. I think we’re in good shape there.”
Marinchek returns at setter.
“We’re trying to get him back to being consistent. He does a really nice job. He has really good hands,” Spencer said. “It’s nice to have our setter coming back. It puts us in a good position to do some certain things because he has that experience.”
Murphy started at libero.
“He likes to get after it defensively. He plays extremely hard,” Spencer said. “This year. I’m trying to get him to talk a little more on the court, and he seems to be embracing that role. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.”
Derry advanced to the WPIAL title match last year and was on the verge of the championship. However, Ambridge overcame a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 victory.
“That’s all we’ve talked about for the past year — to get back there and be able to finish what we started,” Kerr said. “We’re looking better and better every practice. That’s really good to see.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.
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