The Derry Area High School boys volleyball team made its second consecutive appearance in the WPIAL Class AA title match last Thursday at Baldwin High School.
The Trojans faced the same team they lost to last year, but suffered the same fate and had to settle for another silver medal after dropping a 3-0 decision to Ambridge Area.
"[Ambridge] served very well and passed better than us," Derry coach Shawn Spencer said. "That took us out of a lot of things we normally do well. And their size was a big factor."
It was the fifth title in six years for Ambridge. Derry made its ninth appearance in a WPIAL title match but lost for the eighth time.
"Our passing was inconsistent at best," Spencer said. "When you're playing a team with a height advantage like Ambridge has, you have to pass the ball well. That's a big reason why we had so many hitting and passing errors."
After falling behind, 4-3, in the first game, Ambridge dominated the rest of the way by outscoring the Trojans, 22-13, to record a 25-17 victory. Ambridge had four players record at least three kills in the opening game.
"[Ambridge] passed the ball extremely well in the first game," Spencer said. "When you do that and have as many weapons as they have, it's very tough to defend them."
Derry held a 9-8 lead in the second game, but Ambridge rallied to score 13 of the next 16 points and eventually registered a 25-18 victory. The third game followed the same format, as Ambridge pulled out a 25-19 win to conclude the sweep.
Senior outside hitter Matt Vasinko led Derry with 14 kills, while senior outside hitter Josh Wannamaker had nine kills. Senior setter Andy Panizzi had 33 assists.
"Matt [Vasinko] played big time tonight," said Spencer. "He did what we needed him to do tonight. It was nice to see him have a night like that."
Derry earned its third PIAA tournament berth in four years.
"It's disappointing to lose in the title match for the second year in a row," Spencer said. "It stings, but we don't have time to lick our wounds.
"We have to bounce back and get ready for the PIAA tournament and hope for a rematch with Ambridge."
Derry played District 6 champion Bishop Guilfoyle in the first round on Wednesday.
Norwin earns PIAA berth
In Class AAA, Norwin earned its third consecutive PIAA berth by placing third in the 12-team bracket.
"It's exciting to be going to the state tournament for the third straight year," Norwin coach Al Warden said. "But I had my doubts after losing to Bethel Park in the semifinals."
Norwin, last year's WPIAL runner-up, was swept by Bethel Park in the semifinals.
"We didn't have a very good practice the day before the match, so I didn't know what to expect," Warden said.
Norwin faced backyard rival Penn-Trafford in the consolation final, with a PIAA berth as a prize for the winner. The Knights got off to a rocky start, losing 25-14 in the first game, but rallied to win the second game, 25-20.
Penn-Trafford took a 2-1 lead with a 25-23 decision in the third set. That meant Norwin would have to win the final two sets to qualify. And that's just what the Knights did, 25-21 and 15-8.
"The kids believed in themselves and wanted another chance to play in the state tournament," Warden said. "I'm very proud of the way they rebounded to qualify."
Norwin had the difficult task of facing seven-time WPIAL champion North Allegheny in Wednesday's PIAA first round.
First Published May 30, 2013 4:00 AM