BH-BL must play waiting game

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake will face some stiff competition, and plenty of lag time in between, when

Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake will face some stiff competition, and plenty of lag time in between, when the New York State girls’ volleyball championships begin today with pool play at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The Spartans are in their seventh consecutive state final four after last weekend’s regional sweep of Massena, and are making their 10th appearance since 1995.

“I’ve talked to my girls. A big part of it is how you handle the sit­uation,” veteran Burnt Hills coach Gary Bynon said. “It’s different than any other sport because you’ve got to go out and play state semifinal volleyball, take two hours off and then play again. You wait again, and then you play again.

“Fortunately for us, a lot of our kids have been through it.”

Burnt Hills has survived the play-and-wait scenario six times, including the last four years, in advancing to state championship matches. The Spartans went 4-2 in pool play in 2007, and then beat Victor in a special one-game playoff before losing in the title match to Hendrick Hudson for the second year in a row.

“A lot of it is the mental part,” Bynon said. “You’ve got to get up for it. You’ve got to be ready to play.”

Burnt Hills (22-3) meets Harborfields (Section XI, 19-0) today at 3:30 in its two-game Class A opener, and after two more matches, the Spartans face Victor (Section V, 19-1). Following another match, Burnt Hills closes out against Cornwall (Section IX, 20-1).

Section II and regional champ­ions Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk

(24-0, Class B) and Lake George (17-5, Class C) will also see pool play competition today, with Lake George making its 12th final four showing. The championship matches

in all five classes are Sunday.

“In the state final four, you never know what’s going to happen, but I like the way my team has come together,” said Bynon, who guided the Spartans to state Class A titles in 2004 and 2005, and to the state Class B crown in 2002. “I like the way we’re playing. We’re playing our best volleyball of the season.”

Burnt Hills will be running into familiar foes in Harborfields and Victor. Harborfields beat Burnt Hills in a one-game quarterfinal at the Horseheads Tournament earlier this season, and also won BH-BL’s Cider Challenge Tourn­ament, though the teams did not meet there.

Burnt Hills and Victor split two pool games at the Baldwinsville Tournament. The teams also split in state pool play last year before the Spartans took the one-game playoff, 25-19.

“They [Victor] lost two very good players, but I think they’re better this year,” Bynon said. “They’ve got a great libero and size in the middle.”

Cornwall and Burnt Hills have not met this season.

Burnt Hills is in the state final four by virtue of its 25-3, 25-9,

25-8 sweep of Massena, in which Courtney Rabideau served for the final 18 points in the first game, and

Maria Allocco and Christina Pelletier combined for 20 kills. Burnt Hills rallied to beat Troy before that in the Section II final, 12-25,

25-17, 25-20, 25-17, behind Allocco’s 14 kills and 10 stuff blocks, Pelletier’s 10 kills, Natalie Ziskins 29 assists and Laura Falkowitz’s 39 digs.

Allocco, Pelletier, Ziskin, Falkowitz, Andrea Gorgen and Karin

Dionne will start for BH-BL today, with Rabideau, Leanne Merchant and Kaitlyn Valade coming off the bench. Allocco, a sophomore middle blocker, and Falkowitz, a senior libero, are the lone returning starters from last year’s 21-6 state runner-up team, though seven others were members of that team.

Hendrick Hudson (Section I, 23-0) has moved down to Class B,

and will be coupled with two other perennial state powers in Eden (Section VI, 26-1) and John Glenn (Section XI, 18-0), as well as Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk. Eden won the state Class C title last year and was tops in Class B in 2006, giving the Raiders six state championships since 1996. John Glenn won the state Class B banner in 2007, its fourth title since 2003.

Lake George will be coupled with 2007 Class C runner-up Westlake (Section I, 20-4), Salamanca (Section VI, 19-0) and East Rockaway (Section VIII, 13-3). Lake George won the state Class D title in 2001, and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is the only Section II school to claim state honors since then.

Today’s schedule

Class A

(Court 3)

Harborfields vs. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 3:30; Victor vs. Cornwall, 4:30; Harborfields vs. Cornwall, ASAP; Victor vs. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, ASAP; Harborfields vs. Victor, ASAP; Cornwall vs. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, ASAP.

Class B

(Court 1)

John Glenn vs. Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, 3:30; Eden vs. Hendrick Hudson, 4:30; John Glenn vs. Hendrick Hudson, ASAP; Edan vs. Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, ASAP; John Glenn vs. Eden, ASAP; Hendrick Hudson vs. Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk, ASAP.

Class C

(Court 2)

East Rockaway vs. Lake George, 9; Salamanca vs. Westlake, 10; East Rockaway vs. Westlake, ASAP; Salamanca vs. Lake George, ASAP; East Rockaway vs. Salamanca, ASAP; Westlake vs. Lake George, ASAP.

Categories: High School Sports

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