HS Volleyball: Spartans rally to beat Horses

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ volleyball team had one of its impressive streaks halted in Tue
Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa players congratulate each other as they win in sectional competition against Troy at Skidmore College.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Burnt Hills-Ballston Spa players congratulate each other as they win in sectional competition against Troy at Skidmore College.

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ volleyball team had one of its impressive streaks halted in Tuesday’s Section II Class A championship match at Skidmore College.

No, not that streak.

“I think that might be the first game we’ve lost in Section II since 2001. I’m pretty sure it is,” Burnt Hills coach Gary Bynon said after his Spartans rallied to beat Troy in four games to claim their 14th sectional crown going back to 1991. “They handled our serves early. They kept coming at us.”

Burnt Hills (No. 1 seed, 21-3) never led in the first game, a 25-12 loss, before taking the next three, 25-17, 25-20 and 25-17, to secure its seventh straight sectional title, and its 11th in 12 years.

South Glens Falls was the last Section II team to win a game at Burnt Hills’ expense, in the 2001 Class B final, when the Bulldogs prevailed in five.

“We were excited to be playing one of the best teams in the state,” said Troy senior setter Shannon Jones, this year’s Big 10 most val­uable player. “To win a game against them is an honor. I’m proud of our team. We played incredible.”

“Troy is a great team, and for them to take the first game, it made us realize that nothing is guaranteed,” said BH-BL senior libero Laura Falkowitz, this year’s Suburban Council MVP. “It made us realize that we needed to play the best we can.”

Bynon and his Spartans scouted Troy (No. 3, 16-1) in the Class A semifinals, when the Flying Horses rallied from a 24-19 deficit to beat South Glens Falls in the first game of a three-game sweep. That win pushed Troy into its first final since 1992, when it lost to Burnt Hills.

“I talked to my girls before Friday’s practice, and told them we’re down, 3-0, in every game just because of their [Troy] emotion,” Bynon said. “We have to answer that.”

After the opening game, the Spartans did.

“It was too crazy. Not really our style,” Falkowitz said of the first game. “We try to stay calm and focused, and we weren’t doing that. We were giving up simple points. We were making errors in little places, and that shouldn’t have been happening. It took us a little while to settle down.”

Sophomore middle blocker

Maria Allocco excelled during the comeback, and finished with 14 kills and 10 stuff blocks. Christina Pelletier had 10 kills, and Natalie Ziskin totaled 29 assists as BH-BL earned a matchup with Massena (Section X) in Saturday’s regional at Shenendehowa.

“Troy is such a good team, and they came out with a lot of energy,” said Allocco, who finished off the second and third games with kills. “We were thinking, ‘We’ve just got to play our game and calm down. Play the way we have all season.’ ”

Leanne Merchant served for four points in a 5-0 run that gave

BH-BL a 7-2 lead in the second game, and a 7-3 spurt gave the Spartans firm control, at 23-15. The third game was tied at 10-10 before

Andrea Gorgen’s kill kick-started a 7-1 surge, and Troy never recovered.

Kaitlyn Valade served for an ace in a 5-0 run that gave BH-BL a 6-2 advantage in the fourth game, and the freshman capped a 10-3 push with two more aces, making it

19-12. After Troy closed within

19-15, the Spartans countered with a 6-2 flurry. Pelletier had her last two kills, and Ziskin’s dink led to a net ball and the final tally.

“Maria getting established in the middle was a big key, and our passing got better,” said Bynon. “Our passing was non-existent in Game 1. We got behind Laura, and got it going.”

Emily Jones had 11 kills for Troy, Shannon Jones piled up 32 assists with two kills and two blocks and Kristin Tully added 13 digs.

Rachel Martin had two kills in a 5-0 run that helped Troy open up a 14-7 lead in the first game, and Emily Jones had two kills in a 5-0 run that all but sealed it, making it 22-11. Sharika Canty’s ace made it 25-12, and BH-BL had its first loss in a Section II game since South Glens Falls’ 15-10 match-clinching decision eight years ago.

Karlie Haack had 13 kills and six blocks, and Britney Lintner

assisted on 29 points to lift Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk (No. 1,

24-0) to a 25-22, 25-13, 23-25, 25-21 win over Schalmont (No. 3, 18-6) in the Class B final. Kaitlyn Franks added nine kills for the Indians, who won

their last sectional banner in 2005.

Mayfield (No. 2, 19-2) beat two-time defending champ Loudonville Christian (No. 1, 22-2) in the Class D final in five games, 25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 17-25, 25-18, for its first sectional banner since 2004.

Categories: High School Sports

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