GLENS FALLS — One thought raced through the mind of junior Maddy Frutchey as she jumped to slam a set-winning point during pool play at Saturday’s Class AA girls’ volleyball state tournament final four.
That thought: “Just get it over.”
She did — and that successful hit got Shenendehowa over its run of tough Saturdays at the state final four in previous years. The Plainsmen went 5-1 Saturday at Cool Insuring Arena to clinch their spot in Sunday’s 10 a.m. championship match against Section VIII’s Connetquot, which also went 5-1.
“We’re just so excited,” Shenendehowa senior Nicole Adams said. “That’s never happened before in Shen history.”
Shenendehowa, which brought a 21-2 mark into Saturday’s pool play, appeared in its first state final four in 2014. The Plainsmen came up short that year of reaching the championship, and the next two years for Shenendehowa ended at the same point.
But the Plainsmen won their first four sets Saturday, sweeping Section IX’s Kingston and Section V’s Victor. Frutchey’s kill ended the second set against Victor, a win which set off a raucous celebration on the court for the Plainsmen.
“That moment was awesome,” Shenendehowa head coach Lori Kessler said. “I’m so proud of this team, because we knew we had to take those first two sets against Kingston, but we’d lost to Victor earlier this year in a tournament. We made some adjustments and they answered.”
The 4-0 start — made up of 25-7, 25-11, 25-18, 25-22 wins — didn’t automatically clinch Shenendehowa its spot in the finals. That officially came about 30 minutes after the Plainsmen finished against Victor, when Connetquot beat Kingston to eliminate the possibility of any tiebreakers getting in the Plainsmen’s way.
“This was such a relief,” Shenendehowa senior Charlotte Macken said. “To finally actually make it, it’s such a relief — and we love it.”
Shenendehowa and Connetquot — the 2015 state champion — split their sets Saturday, with Connetquot winning 25-12 before Shenendehowa won 25-18 to finish off the round of play. Those sets, though, represented more of a scouting mission for each team as it heads into Sunday’s final.
“That’s the next step,” Adams said.
Shenendehowa’s sets against Connetquot did include a scare for the Plainsmen. Macken, the team’s libero, hit her head hard during a collision with a teammate early in the first set between the teams.
Macken underwent tests with a trainer and missed the rest of the day’s action. Macken and Kessler each are cautiously optimistic the senior will play Sunday after it was ruled she had not suffered a concussion.
After her team’s action was complete Saturday, Macken laughed about the play that had sidelined her.
“I got kneed in the head,” Macken said. “They told me it was [senior] Hannah Feit, which is funny because a few tournaments ago, I had kneed her in the head.”
For the day, Adams led Shenendehowa with 25 kills and 10 blocks, while senior Mary Talty had 13 kills. Feit collected 45 assists and sophomore Annie Sala had nine kills.
In Shenendehowa’s past trips to the state final four, its best mark was a 3-3 showing in 2015. The Plainsmen went 1-5 in 2014 and 2-4 in 2016.
This year, though, is about this year. That’s the mentality ahead of Sunday’s championship match for the Plainsmen.
“We’re definitely focusing on having positives attitudes and not on what happened in past years,” Frutchey said.
“It’s crazy to think we’re able to move on,” Adams said. “That’s always been the goal — and now it’s reality.”