First Posted: 4/1/2014

There were times in the volleyball pre-season that Lake-Lehman was practicing without even enough players to field a team.

That did not stop first-year coach Josh Scarbriel.

Scarbriel has worked on introducing the game to others and recruiting potential players, getting enough to stick that the Black Knights have proceeded with their season.

Lake-Lehman, playing with just the six starters and no substitutes, dropped its first three matches, although it did manage to take Dallas to five sets in an exciting meeting between the two rivals.

“It’s a huge rebuilding year,” Scarbriel said. “We graduated a lot of seniors.”

When the 2007 Lake-Lehman graduate arrived for his first season, he had four veteran players and no one else signed up.

“Interest level has been down,” Scarbriel said. “Track and baseball are big and always have big groups of kids coming in.

“Now, with lacrosse in the picture, it’s even tougher to get guys to come out and play volleyball.”

Scarbriel, who played briefly on the club team while at Temple University, would like to see Lake-Lehman return to the days of the 1980s and 90s when it was a volleyball power His short-term goals are to stabilize a hurting program.

“I have to take what I have, rebuild the program and focus on a lot of recruiting,” Scarbriel said. “It’s going to be more clinics and tournaments in order to introduce the game to some fresh faces and people who have never played an actual regulated game of volleyball.

“It’s a very challenging experience right now.”

With the help of his returning players and assistant coach Brent Oliver, Scarbriel has managed to get some athletes from other sports to stop by a few practices. Two have stayed on, completing the starting lineup.

Senior Joe Wojcik, junior Eric Masters and sophomores Charles Hennebaul and J.K. Karlowicz are the experienced players.

Sophomores Zack Corey and Joe Chaga are the additions. Corey is splitting time between volleyball and baseball while Chaga is doing the same with the track team.

“They are doing the two sports and handling it very well,” Scarbriel said. “I’m trying to offer that option to others.”

Scarbriel played volleyball at Lake-Lehman and helped organize intramural teams while at Temple before graduating with a degree in economics. He works as a performance reporting analyst at TMG Health in Jessup.

SHOWDOWN: Even with the limited numbers, Lake-Lehman managed to win one set from Hanover Area in the opener, then two while putting up a fight in its March 26 home match against Dallas.

Dallas ultimately prevailed, 18-25, 25-22, 25-15, 20-25, 15-13.

“We came back and won Game 4, then went back and forth in Game 5,” Scarbriel said. “It was an awesome match. We can’t wait to play each other again.”

Bryce Mattson led Dallas to the win with 29 kills and four blocks. Steve Durling had 27 assists and five aces.

Lake-Lehman was led by Chaga with 18 assists and three service points. Hennebaul had five kills, seven blocks and nine digs. Wojcik provided six kills, five blocks, seven service points and nine digs.

MVP: Dallas was eliminated from title contention early, but that did not stop Mattson from earning Most Valuable Player honors in the Spartan Classic at Wyoming Valley West March 29.

The Mountaineers started 2-0 in the league before falling to Coughlin Monday in four sets. Mattson had nine kills and six blocks in the loss.

NUMBERS GAME: Wyoming Area faced similar changes to Lake-Lehman and decided not to have a team after initially planning to end to a two-year hiatus from the Wyoming Valley Conference.

Mike Zurek, an assistant coach at Dallas the past two seasons, had been hired as head boys coach at Wyoming Area after being an assistant coach with the school’s girls team in the fall.

Zurek ran practices with seven players for the first week. The school decided not to proceed with the limited numbers after a meeting between Zurek and athletic director Joe Pizano.

“Six out of the seven players we had were underclassmen so, as far as I know, the thinking is that next year we can try it again and see if we get more interest,” Zurek said. “But, that’s not my call.”

Wyoming Area was 6-10 in 2011, its last season in the WVC.

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