DeRiemer swings back into action on court | NevadaAppeal.com

DeRiemer swings back into action on court

Dave Price

This has been a season – a year, actually – of transition for Rachael DeRiemer.

During her senior volleyball at Carson High School just two years ago, DeRiemer was the focus of attention as an outside hitter who earned Sierra League MVP honors. She played as a freshman in the fall of 2003 at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, but at the start of the new year, she decided to make a change and return home to Carson City.

She enrolled for spring semester classes at Western Nevada Community College and made plans to enter the University of Nevada this fall, but not to play volleyball. Hindered by a lingering shoulder injury, she figured her days of playing college volleyball were behind her.

Oh, how things have changed.

DeRiemer was in Nevada’s Virginia Street Gym last weekend watching the Western Athletic Conference Volleyball Tournament and cheering as she watched her new teammates, the Nevada Wolf Pack, advance to the finals before falling in four games to five-time champion Hawai’i on Sunday. DeRiemer didn’t play in the tournament – having taken this season off as a medical redshirt – but that didn’t detract from the excitement of the moment.

“It is tough to just stand there and watch, but there wasn’t much I could do about it,” she said. “I’m just excited to be here and have an opportunity to learn more, and I’m excited to have that second chance to play again.”

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Coming off its runner-up finish in the WAC Tournament, Nevada (20-8) will try to enhance a season that has already been successful at the University of Pacific-hosted Bankers Classic, which will be played today and Saturday at the Spanos Center in Stockton. A sweep this weekend could assure the Wolf Pack an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament, and they open against 11-19 San Francisco (and Douglas High graduate Jencie Lejeune) at 5 p.m., then play on Saturday against either Pacific or George Washington.

DeRiemer had a decent freshman season at Point Loma, where she played in 28 matches – averaging 1.20 kills and 1.13 digs per game – for a team that went 28-7 overall in 2003.

“I love San Diego, I grew up down there, but the school just wasn’t right for me so I decided to come back home,” she said of the decision to leave Point Loma in favor of Nevada. “My friends were up here and my family is only 30 minutes away, so I left at the semester and came back home and took classes at WNCC in the spring semester.”

However, her plans in regard to attending Nevada took a change in the meantime.

“I was kind of ready to do college,” she said. “I had kind of given up on volleyball, but then I got to talking to the coaches and I started getting excited about playing again.”

The rotator cuff injury she sustained progressed to a point where surgery was required in May. She is still going through physical therapy and waiting for medical clearance.

“The recovery has taken longer than I expected, but I’m hoping to be ready to play in the spring,” she said.

DeRiemer is anxious to get back on the court, especially after a season in which Nevada has won 13 of their last 16 matches since Sept. 25, with each of those three losses coming at the hands of a Hawai’i team that was elevated to No. 1 this week in the USA Today/CSTV rankings.

“It’s definitely exciting to see them play,” DeRiemer said. “They’ve really grown as a team through the season. The start was kind of rocky, but the chemistry has really come together. It’s been nice to see the potential and then to see them put it all together.”

Looking ahead to next season, the 5-foot-8 DeRiemer is listed on Nevada’s roster as a libero/defensive specialist, a significant change from her days as an outside hitter. The libero position carries little glory because its primary duties are to pass and play defense, and is a unique position that allows free substitution (the player can come in for any number of players at any time). Since only one player on the team is allowed to play that role during a match, the libero wears a different color jersey.

DeRiemer doesn’t care what the position is called. She just wants to be on the court.

“You definitely don’t get glory, but it helps to have a defensive player on the court at all times, and you’ve always got to have somebody pass the ball (to set up the hitters). But really, I’ll be happy to play anywhere. Wherever the team needs me, there will be no complaints on this end.”

Contact Dave Price at dprice@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-1220.