Lady Bills peaking at right time, rout Raiders (with photo gallery)

All through September, Johnstown volleyball coach Heather McGuire thought she had a championship-cal

All through September, Johnstown volleyball coach Heather McGuire thought she had a championship-caliber team. On the first day of October, she was certain.

“We played incredible volleyball that day. We made the final and lost in the third game against South Glens Falls by two points,” McGuire said of the Lady Bills’ showing at Queensbury’s Power of Pink Tournament. “I had seen glimpses, and on that day, they showed everyone we could play. It was a matter of doing it.”

Johnstown has been doing it extremely well since the playoffs rolled around.

With a Class B regional semi­final sweep of Massena Thursday, the Lady Bills stretched their postseason games record to 12-1. Johnstown trailed only once, briefly in the third game, before surging twice to cap a 25-9, 25-9, 25-11 victory over the Section X champs at Gloversville High School.

“The team looked great today,” McGuire said. “We’re playing our best volleyball right now, hands down. Everyone is doing what we worked on all year. The chemistry is there. They’re having fun. That’s what the postseason is all about.”

Johnstown (13-5) defeated Holy Names, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk and Ichabod Crane for its first Section II crown since 2007 before Thursday’s display which included power at the net with 12 kills in each game, strong serving, crisp passing and get-after-it defense.

“We knew we had to come in and do what we did in the Ravena match and in the sectional final,” said sen­ior middle Brynn Hlozansky, who led Johnstown with 18 service points to go along with four kills. “We had to play with heart and give it everything we’ve got.”

Johnstown got the jump on Annie Stock’s match-starting kill, and worked its first-game lead to 11-1 on another smash by the Lady Bills’ standout freshman outside hitter.

“That was the most important thing about the whole match, the start,” said Hlozansky. “We showed them what we’re made of. We showed them we were ready to play. That brought us up and brought them down.”

Massena (15-6) never got into a groove after its slow start in a match that was delayed by 45 minutes. Coach Mary Arcadi said the Massena bus got caught behind a large, slow-moving vehicle, and a trip that began at 7:30 in the morning finally ended around 2 in the afternoon.

The Raiders put as many as three points together only twice, late in the first game and midway through the third.

“I wish we brought our ‘A’ game. We weren’t what we nornally are,” said Arcadi. “We’re a pretty scrappy team. We cover the court and execute, but we didn’t do those things. That was not the team that got here.”

Johnstown was, though, and extending its game winning streak to nine. The Lady Bills beat Ichabod Crane in the Section II title match, 25-18, 25-19, 25-21, and ousted Ravena before that, 21-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-12, and took care of Holy Names in the quarters, 25-15, 25-10, 25-19.

“We didn’t know anything about them [Massena], but we knew if we played together, we’d have a good chance to win,” said Stock, who collected 13 kills, seven points and five digs. “We were not cocky coming in, but we were confident.”

McGuire said that win over Ravena helped boost the confidence tremendously. Ravena beat Johnstown in the 2010 sectional final and in the 2009 and 2008 semifinals.

“It was always that cloud,” McGuire said. “The girls knew what was at stake when we played them, and beating them just lifted us. They believe they can accomplish some geat things.”

Johnstown took control of the second game with 12 straight points in building a 21-7 advantage. Hloz­ansky served for the last 11 points in the run with three aces.

“We’ve been working on being a consistant serving team,” said McGuire. “During the season, we were getting three-point runs. Now, we’re getting eight-point runs. It’s nice to see what you practice play out on the court.”

Demi White served two aces to give Massena a quick lead in the third game. Johnstown answered with a 6-0 run to go up, 6-2, and used a 7-0 spurt later on to open up a 20-9 lead. Gabby Hale ended the third and first games with aces, and Stock finished the second game with a kill.

Zara Hyde had 29 assists and eight points for Johnston, Hale had six kills and eight points, and MaryBeth DeCuyke totaled eight kills.

“I was hoping that we’d play as a team, and we did,” said Hlozansky, one of five seniors on the roster. “When we’re together, we’re unstoppable.”

Johnstown will meet Beekmantown (17-0) Saturday at 5 at Plattsburgh State in the regional finals. Beekmantown beat Peru in three games to claim its fourth Section VII title in seven years. Beekmantown has dropped only two games this season.

“If we do what we’ve done in our last three matches, I’m very confident we’ll find a way,” said McGuire.

In other regional semifinals at Gloversville, Voorheesville (20-0) beat Salmon River (Section X, 19-2) in Class C, 25-22, 25-15, 25-22, and Hartford (18-1) beat Chateaugay (Section X, 15-5) in Class D, 25-20, 25-12, 25-14.

Mariel McGinnis had nine kills for Voorheesville. Caroline Bablin served for 12 points, and Sarah Dykstra served for 10 as the Blackbirds continued their quest to get back to the state title match they lost in 2010.

On Saturday, also at Plattsburgh State, Voorheesville meets AuSable Valley (Section VII, 7-11) at 3, and Hartford meets Nothern Adirondack (Section X, 11-6) at 1.

Categories: -Sports, High School Sports

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