All-state outside hitter Kaitlyn Valade took a hard spill early in the third game of Tuesday’s volleyball match
between Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Niskayuna, and did not return.
“There are things that stand out in my mind about this match,” said Spartans coach Gary Bynon. “You take arguably one of the best players in the state out of the mix, and things don’t change much.
“That’s been the strength of what we do here. I have a lot of good volleyball players. I have kids on the bench that may not see a lot of action that can play volleyball.”
Veterans and reserves came
together to finish off Niskayuna and give Section II’s premier program yet another milestone victory.
The 25-8, 25-12, 25-15 decision, forged with superb defense, passing and serving, was Burnt Hills’ 300th straight in Suburban Council play.
“We do talk about the streak sometimes. We’re not afraid of the streak, it’s just not what we focus on,” said BH-BL senior setter Natalie Ziskin. “We focus on getting better, winning the next point, and winning the next game.”
The Spartans put together 6-0 and 10-0 runs in the first game, fashioned 8-0 and 6-0 runs in the second and rattled off seven consecutive points early in the third game, the final six after Valade tumbled and twisted an ankle while going after a sideline hit.
That 7-0 spurt erased a 3-1 deficit, an 8-0 run later on made it 20-9, and a kill by freshman Jessica Dillon and an ace by senior Ally Coniglione sealed the special triumph.
“Kaitlyn is a first-team all-stater. She’s a good hitter, a great defender and a great passer. After Kaitlyn went out, Lizzy [Morton] gets the next six serves in. Natalie, our general out there, gets everyone back into it,” said Bynon. “That was huge. I can’t say enough about those kids and how they responded.”
Burnt Hills’ kids began winning match after Suburban Council match following an October 1990 loss to Shenendehowa. The Spartans (6-0 overall) began this season’s league schedule with wins over Saratoga Springs and Shaker before the home sweep against the Silver Warriors (1-3).
Burnt Hills has swept every league match since the 2002 season except for one, when Shenendehowa took a game from the Spartans, 26-24, in 2009.
“I remember that night vividly,” Bynon said of the 1990 match with Shenendehowa. “I remember saying, ‘I don’t ever want us to play like that again.’ I didn’t feel good about how we played. I was only two years into the sport, and my thought was I had to get better. I needed to get better. That was it.”
Bynon’s players have gotten better, too, honing their skill from an early age before starring at the varsity level.
“We work really hard since we’re little. It’s hard work,” said Valade, one of six seniors on this year’s team. “Everyone on the team puts in the effort, and together it makes 300 happen.”
“You hope the more you put in, the more you get out if it, and boy, do these kids put in the time,” Bynon said.
Consecutive league win No. 100 for BH-BL came in during the 1997 season against Bethlehem, and win No. 200 came at Shenendehowa’s expense in 2004, when the Spartans later captured the second of their three state championships.
Burnt Hills got a scare from Shenendehowa in 1996 when the Spartans trailed in the fifth game, 11-6, before rallying to win and extend the streak to 88 matches.
“We never coach for the streak,” said Bynon. “We worry about how we play.”
The Spartans presented Bynon with another milestone in last season’s Section II Class A semifinals, his 500th win, when they knocked off South Glens Falls. Another win against Queensbury two nights later gave Bynon’s teams nine straight sectional championships and 16 in all.
“It’s just an incredible program to be a part of. Gary Bynon works so hard to give to us, and we work hard,” said Ziskin. “It’s very cool. I feel so blessed. I feel so privileged. I’m so proud to share this with him.”
Bynon became BH-BL’s varsity coach in 1988, and his teams began a string of 23 straight Suburban Council division championships that season.
“To win your league, to win your division and go undefeated, that’s always been something we’re very proud of,” said Bynon. “That means you were ready to play. That’s what we preach.”
“Amazing kids. Now some of them are grown up and have kids of their own,” said Bynon. “I’m honored to coach here.”
Ziskin piled up 27 assists, three kills and five of BH-BL’s 14 aces. Morton had nine kills, Valade had seven kills and Natalie Moore stood out defensively with 16 digs.
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Categories: High School Sports