Senior setter Andy Panizzi led Derry in assists with 40 in the PIAA semifinals against Ambridge.
By Ken Wunderley Tri-State Sports & News Service
There's an old saying that goes: "Be careful what you wish for ... it may come true."
Such was the case for the Derry Area High School boys volleyball team this week. The Trojans got the rematch they had hoped for, but the results were similar to its first meeting against WPIAL champion Ambridge Area.
The Trojans faced Ambridge for the second time in 12 days, with hopes of avenging its loss to the Bridgers in the WPIAL Class AA title match on May 23.
The two teams met again in Tuesday's PIAA semifinals and Derry came up short again. Ambridge recorded a 3-0 sweep for the second time, but the rematch was much closer and certainly closer than the shutout score would indicate.
In fact, it was so close that Derry was serving for set-point with a 24-22 lead in the first game. Ambridge rallied to pull out a 28-26 victory. Derry's six serving errors were the difference.
"When you're facing a power team such as Ambridge, you have to serve aggressively," said Derry coach Shawn Spencer, when asked about the serving errors. "So I expected to have serving errors. You just hope they don't come at critical times."
Ambridge jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the second set, but Derry rallied to tie the match at 15. Ambridge scored 10 of the next 14 points to complete a 25-19 victory. The Bridgers closed out the match with a 25-23 win.
"Anytime you lose a tough set like that, bouncing back in the next set can be difficult," Spencer said. "We got off to a slow start in the second set, but the kids battled back and gave Ambridge all it could handle."
It wasn't enough to lead Derry to victory.
"Ambridge is a very good team," Spencer said. "Coming into the season, everybody knew they were the team to beat and they proved it."
Spencer is disappointed with the loss, but pleased with Derry's performance during the 2013 season.
"I'm very proud of what the boys were able to accomplish," Spencer said. "We had only two kids back at the same position from last year's squad, and were able to make it back to the WPIAL finals. That's a lot to be proud of."
Matt Vasinko, a junior outside hitter, led Derry with 18 kills against Ambridge. Josh Wannamaker, a senior outside hitter, had 10 kills. Andy Panizzi, a senior setter, had 40 assists.
"We lose four players to graduation, including three starters," said Spencer, referring to Wannamaker, Panizzi and middle hitters Nick McNutt and Zach Riggle. "We do have a nice group of kids coming back, and making it back to the WPIAL finals is always one of our goals."
Vasinko, Panizzi and Wannamaker were voted first-team All-WPIAL Class AA. Izaak Fulmer-Moffat and Ian Malis were voted to the second team for the Trojans, while McNutt and Ethan Houston were voted to the third team.
Norwin saw its season come to an end in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA tournament.
The Knights had the challenging task of facing seven-time WPIAL champion North Allegheny in the first round. The results were not good for the Knights, as the Tigers recorded a 3-0 sweep.
"A bunch of teams lose their last match of the year. Once you get over that, you can reflect on the team and what it was able to accomplish," Norwin coach Al Warden said. "I'm somewhat satisfied with our performance.
"I wasn't sure of where we were heading when the season began, since we had so many new starters, but we were able to finish in a good place. The kids can be proud of that."
Norwin earned its postseason berth by winning its third consecutive Section 3-AAA title. The Knights qualified for the PIAA tournament by placing third in the WPIAL.
"We lose seven players to graduation, including five who were part of our starting rotation," Warden said.
"Three of our seniors were voted to WPIAL All-Stars. We certainly have some big shoes to fill."
Senior middle hitter Nick Idele was voted first-team All-WPIAL Class AAA. Senior setter Nick Farabaugh was chosen for the second team. Dane Hilko, a senior libero, was a third-team pick.