DOUBLE BLOCK — From left, Hayden Herc and Declan Pierce go up for a block during Eden’s loss to Will. South. Photo courtesy of David Eckhardt.
The Lake Shore boys volleyball team lost its entire starting roster from a team that won two consecutive Section VI titles, and advanced to the state championship in 2012.
Replacing that elite lineup wasn’t easy, but the 10th-seeded Eagles found themselves with a chance to reach the semifinals of the Class B playoffs, when they matched up with the second-seeded Raiders of Eden on Oct. 31.
That is where the season would end for a young Lake Shore squad that made strides, this season. Meanwhile, the Raiders fell to Williamsville South in the semifinals, two days later.
Eagles head coach John Coyle, in his 19th season, had a challenging task when the season started, as he worked with players that had little to no experience on a varsity team.
“It was a lot of a feeling-out process,” said Coyle. “It was a lot of ‘who’s going to work here, who’s going to work there, what’s going to work with this rotation?’ We switched our rotation around a half-dozen more times than I wanted to, early in the year.”
This year’s team returned just one player, libero Brad Owens, the only senior in the starting lineup. It finished the regular season with an overall record of 9 – 9 and a 7 – 5 mark in Erie County Interscholastic Conference II play.
Lake Shore upset seventh-seeded North Tonawanda in straight sets in the pre-quarterfinals, setting up the matchup with a familiar foe. Coyle said the playoff win will be helpful going forward, with a young and inexperienced team.
The Eagles relied on Devin Joslyn, a freshman and younger brother of former Eagles standout and 2013 graduate Ryan Joslyn, as their floor captain this year. Coyle said that Joslyn’s experience playing club volleyball was important, as well as his versatility. He was a setter this year and contributed in hitting and passing, as well.
Sophomore Kyle Wishman was another setter for the Eagles who was forced to play all over the floor, throughout the season. Owens added experience he gained from advancing to the state championship a year ago.
The Eagles will look to use this year as a building block for future success.
“To finish over .500 in the division is a big accomplishment for these kids and winning a sectional match is a step forward,” Coyle said.