It's a good thing for Rick Tatrn that the WPIAL did not schedule volleyball playoff matches for Saturday.
"I'm being inducted into the Alle-Kiski Valley Sports Hall of Fame [Saturday]," said Tatrn, who is in his 44th season as boys volleyball coach at Deer Lakes High School. "I told the [hall of fame] selection committee that if there was a conflict with any playoff matches, that I would have to miss the induction ceremony."
Tatrn is one of eight individuals who will be honored in the 44th class of inductees at 7 p.m. Saturday at New Kensington's Clarion Hotel.
"It's great to be honored, but I didn't go into coaching with the thought of being inducted into halls of fame," said Tatrn, who is already a member of the Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. "I'm here for the kids."
Tatrn is a 1965 graduate of the former East Deer-Frazier High School, which later merged with West Deer to become Deer Lakes. He played football for the Bucks, but wasn't exposed to volleyball until he attended college.
It's no surprise that Tatrn has lost track of the number of playoff teams he's coached at Deer Lakes. But the Lancers have qualified for the WPIAL playoffs 14 of the past 15 years.
Deer Lakes earned its most recent playoff berth by placing second in Class AA Section 2 with an 8-2 record. The Lancers only two section losses were to Derry Area, last year's WPIAL runner-up.
Tatrn was a little surprised that his squad was seeded No. 5 in the 12-team Class AA bracket after being ranked No. 3 most of the season.
"I was a little surprised, but it's not a big deal," Tatrn said. "We just have to play each match and hopefully move on to the next round."
That's just what Deer Lakes did in its opening round match against Thomas Jefferson. The Lancers posted a 3-0 victory to advance to tonight's quarterfinals against No. 4 seed Beaver County Christian. The Eagles received a first-round bye.
"We've been hot and cold this year," Tatrn said. "We had some success in tournaments. We opened the season by winning [the title at] the Norwin tournament, then placed second at the Meadville tournament.
"It's nice to have that kind of success during the season, but what really matters is how we do in the postseason tournaments."
Tatrn's squad features one of the tallest front lines in the WPIAL. Senior middle blockers Donny Szoszorek and Kody Buttyan stand in at 6 feet 6 and 6-5 respectively, while senior outside hitter Nick Roberts is 6-4.
"It's nice to have bookends as tall as Donny and Kody in the middle," Tatrn said. "And to have Nick on the outside, it's obvious we have good size on the front line."
All three were voted first-team All-Section 2, along with 6-0 senior setter Zach Guiciardi. The Lancers' fifth senior, 5-10 outside hitter Seth Colton, was voted to the second team.
"Zach and Seth shared the setting duties last year," Tatrn said. "This year, we moved Seth to the outside due to graduation losses at that position."
Tatrn has built this year's squad around those five seniors, but also uses five underclassmen in his 10-player rotation.
Jake Roberts, a 5-11 sophomore who has split time at outside hitter and libero, is the top underclassman. Roberts, Nick's brother, was voted second-team All-Section 2.
The other four underclassmen are 5-10 junior setter/backcourt specialist Nick Noble, 5-8 sophomore back-row specialist Brandon Phillistine, 6-2 sophomore outside hitter Hunter Signorella and 6-0 freshman outside hitter Scott Kelly.
First Published May 16, 2013 4:00 AM