Rota’s Tyler DeMeritt tosses the ball over the net towards Aviano on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023.

Rota’s Tyler DeMeritt tosses the ball over the net towards Aviano on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023. (Kent Harris/Stars and Stripes)

Stars and Stripes has selected an Athlete of the Year for each of the respective fall sports played across each of DODEA’s Europe and Pacific theaters. Check out our site this week to read profiles for golf (Tuesday), tennis (Wednesday), cross country (Thursday), volleyball (Friday) and football (Saturday).

To truly dominate on the volleyball court, a player can’t rely just on athleticism. 

Setting, passing, serving, bumping, hitting and blocking depend on technique to various degrees. And practicing the skills necessary to do each of them well repeatedly. 

Tyler DeMeritt knows that as well as anyone. 

“My sophomore year, I was terrible,” the Rota senior said. 

He only truly had taken to the sport his freshman season after weighing it against playing football in the fall. Rota didn’t have an official boys volleyball team then. It was considered a club sport. 

That didn’t deter from DeMeritt from choosing volleyball, though. And he hasn’t stayed away for long – playing many weekends year-round and summers to hone his skills. And just have fun. 

“The first time I touched a volleyball, I knew this was going to be my sport,” the Stars and Stripes boys volleyball Athlete of the Year said. 

DeMeritt led the Admirals to the title match of this season’s DODEA-Europe championships, where Rota was overpowered by Black Forest Academy. 

The 6-foot-3 outside hitter doesn’t expect that to be the end of his volleyball career, though. He hopes to play in college next year in Virginia, the state that’s closest to a stateside home. He and four other siblings were born in Rota and all grew up in southwestern Spain. 

Coach and father Edward DeMeritt said the kids played a bit growing up on various occasions. But after oldest son Keenan started playing in high school, Tyler followed. 

“It’s amazing how quickly he’s picked up the skills,” Edward DeMeritt said. “It’s hard to have a bad practice around him. He’s just a great kid and always has pointers or encouragement for others.” 

It wasn’t hard for those watching the Admirals play to see that DeMeritt had a hand in many of the points Rota scored. Whether it was finishing off with a spike at the net or starting the process by digging the ball in the back row with a pass to setter Christian Weaver, DeMeritt rarely watched his teammates take care of everything on any point. 

He, Weaver and middle blocker Brian Lieba played together since their sophomore seasons. Leiba also started playing as a freshman. 

DeMeritt gave credit to those two players for understanding his abilities on the court. As for his skills, he said sailors assigned to the base helped a lot. 

“We have a lot of talented volleyball players, some of them played in college, who play on the weekends and in the summer,” DeMeritt said. “That’s actually where we found our assistant coach (Joseph Contreras).” 

DeMeritt, a second-team All-Europe selection in basketball last year, will try to move up the ladder this winter. He’s not sure whether he’ll play soccer in the spring. After all, there could be a volleyball match somewhere around the base. 

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for 40 years.

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