By Keith McShea
City Honors girls volleyball coach Deborah Matos is back on the job.
Matos, an 18-year head coach who has led the Centaurs to a state championship and six sectional titles in maintaining one of the best girls volleyball programs in Western New York, was placed on administrative leave Sept. 23 after parents complained to administrators about her coaching methods.
Matos was reinstated to her coaching position late last Friday, and she coached her team at the Frontier Invitational last Saturday.
She returned to her home gym Wednesday evening and the Centaurs swept East, 25-5, 25-11, 25-9.
"I'm absolutely elated to be back," Matos told The News after the match. "It's what's best for the kids, and that's what this whole thing should be about."
Matos declined to speak further on her being placed on leave. She also returned to her teaching post on Monday; she teaches physical education at Waterfront School.
"The girls at City Honors really wanted their coach back and I'm glad she's back," said Aubrey Lloyd, the Buffalo Public Schools' Director of Athletics. "Hopefully they can focus on the rest of the season. They're one of the strongest girls volleyball programs in Western New York, definitely one of the strongest in Buffalo, and I want them to go into the rest of the season strong and focused. That’s her focus as well -- she breeds good competition and excellence.
"My focus has always been the girls. We put several things in place so that they wouldn't miss a league game, so they were able to attend a tournament in Baldwinsville [near Syracuse]. People stepped up in coach's absence. Always the focus was to make sure they didn’t miss a beat."
Lloyd said that the most of the team had not only expressed that they wanted their coach back to him, but also to Superintendent Pamela C. Brown in a separate meeting at her office.
Complaints by parents to the Board of Education resulted in Matos being placed on administrative leave while the district's human resources department looked into the matter.
Matos is one of the most accomplished coaches in Buffalo Public Schools history, and the program's current level of success is unmatched by any other city program.
Matos has coached City Honors to six overall Section VI championships (1997, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2009) and one state title (2009).
Honors has utterly dominated the Buffalo Public Schools league. It has currently won 27 straight city league championships. In that time, it has only lost two individual games, one in each of the last two seasons. Prior to a game loss in 2011, City Honors had won 867 straight individual games (the league format switched from best-of-three to best-of-five matches during that time).
The city match winning streak for City Honors was at an astounding 343 entering this season, a run that dates back to the beginning of the 1985 season and the tenure of Matos' predecessor, multiple Hall of Famer Drake Francescone. The late Francescone -- who, like Matos, was an intense disciplinarian who was beloved by former players -- won nine sectional titles and four state championships as he built the program from 1980 to 1995.
The original BuffaloNews.com story about Matos' removal was one of the most commented-on stories at this web site. At this writing, there are 169 comments on the story, of which an overwhelming amount are current and former players writing in support of Matos.
I'll have more in a Prep Talk column that will be published tomorrow.