GLENS FALLS — Eliminated from contention to play in Sunday’s championship before its final round of pool play at Saturday’s Class A girls’ volleyball state tournament final four, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake could have gone through the motions in its last outing of the year.
Instead, the Spartans pushed Section XI’s Kings Park as much as they could, playing their hardest until their season’s final point was finished.
“They knew going into those two games that their season was over, and, you know, our school district — the type of kids and the type of families we have — those kids went out and battled,” Burnt Hills head coach Gary Bynon said. “They didn’t have to do that. They didn’t have to do that at all — and they went out and represented.”
Burnt Hills, which had entered Saturday’s pool play with a 26-5 record, finished 0-6 in this year’s semifinal pool play at Cool Insuring Arena. The Spartans lost 14-25, 12-25 to Section I’s Walter Panas — the 2016 state champion — to start their day, fell 26-28, 15-25 to Section VI’s Williamsville East, and then lost 19-25, 22-25 to Kings Park to conclude their season.
“Everything that could go wrong, did,” Bynon said. “That’s sports.”
This year’s appearance in the state final four was the Spartans’ 16th in a row. Burnt Hills last made it to a state championship match in 2015. That year, the Spartans topped Walter Panas to win their sixth state title.
Burnt Hills had made its way to the state semifinals relying on its defense. An inability to finish out sets with its offense, though, derailed the Spartans.
“We just couldn’t do that today — and we had been,” Bynon said. “We’ve been playing some pretty good volleyball.”
After dropping two sets to Walter Panas to start its day, Burnt Hills engaged in a round of play against Williamsville East from which the Spartans needed to win at least one set. The first set between the two teams was a back-and-forth game, but the Spartans had costly miscues.
“We just had some unforced errors after 22 that cost us in that [game],” Bynon said.
When the final point of that set dropped to give Williamsville East the victory, the Spartans seemed temporarily stunned. They knew they had missed out on a major opportunity to at least guarantee themselves a split, and Bynon said that letdown affected his team in its next game.
“It [did] — and this is a tough sport, you know?” Bynon said. “You can tell.”
A relatively young team, Burnt Hills loses six six seniors — Jess Langan, Myla Dobson, Stella Madden, Miya Hugaboom, Avery Pollard and Kiera Walsh — from its program as it heads into next year.
The expectation for that 2018 season will be for better results at the state tournament, but not a better effort. The Spartans, Bynon said, gave it everything they had Saturday.
“Our kids went out and played,” Bynon said. “They played for themselves, they played for our school district and they played for their sport. I can’t say enough about how hard they played.”