GLENS FALLS — Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake was unable to regroup when it mattered most, and just like that, an opportunity to get back to the state championship match was gone.
A loss to Niagara-Wheatfield and then a stunning sweep by Cornwall left the Spartans 2-4 in semifinal pool play and out of title contention for another New York volleyball prize Saturday at Cool Insuring Arena.
“When you’re in the state final four, you’ve got to come here to play,” Burnt Hills coach Gary Bynon said. “You’ve got to be ready to play. Right now, I’m beyond disappointed.”
Bynon thought his group of veterans and young up-and-comers had a good chance of representing Burnt Hills in what would have been a 13th state final appearance. Burnt Hills won its sixth state title in 2015, and Saturday marked the third straight final four without advancement.
Four other Section II volleyball squads, including Shenendehowa, also failed to advance.
“From the first serve all day, we didn’t play well,” Bynon said. “Anytime anyone gave us a chance, an opportunity, we didn’t take advantage of it.
“In that last game, I kept saying, ‘They’re giving us chances,’ and bam, bam, bam, it’s over.”
Cornwall raced to an 8-0 lead in its first set with Burnt Hills and prevailed 25-20. Burnt Hills led throughout the early portion of the second set, but could not gain separation. Cornwall used a three-point run to go up 13-11 and never trailed again in what turned into a 25-21 victory.
“My staff and I, we tried absolutely everything today,” Bynon said. “Everything. Our last lineup we played, that was the first time we had that look this year.”
Cornwall was 1-3 in its pool matches before taking down Burnt Hills.
“I told my girls to put everything you’ve got into it so you can hold your heads high,” Cornwall coach Jeff Moulton said after his team used strong net play and superb defense to beat BH-BL. “They can play like that.”
Burnt Hills split with Wantagh to begin pool play, winning 26-24 and losing 25-21. The Spartans beat Niaraga-Wheatfield 25-22 before losing to the Falcons 25-17. Burnt Hills fell behind 11-4 in that set and never made a run.
“We didn’t play well,” Bynon said.
Burnt Hills freshmen frontliners Carlie Rzeszotarski and Callie Chevalier had 30 and 20 kills, respectively, and sophomore setter Claire Isaksen contributed 65 assists.
“We had some young kids play monster roles for us this year,” Bynon said. “I hope this sticks with them and serves as motivation for the future.”
A strong pool-play comeback wasn’t quite enough to get Shenendehowa back in the state Class AA championship match.
The Plainsmen dropped their first three sets, won their final three, and then watched as Victory posted a win over Long Beach to eliminate the five-time state semifinalists from Section II.
“They were putting everything they had into it,” Shenendehowa coach Lori Kessler said..
Long Beach beat Shenendehowa 25-23 and 29-27 before Victor topped the Plainsmen 25-11. Shenendehowa rebounded with a 25-16 win over Victor before sweeping Pine Bush 25-21, 25-12.
“The first two against Long Beach, that was an absolute battle. Walking away from that was hard. We missed a couple of opportunities,” Kessler said. “We started slow against Victor and, ultimately, we recovered. The girls showed great tenacity. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
With a revamped lineup, Shenendehowa won its ninth straight Section II title and its fifth consecutive regional championship as part of its postseason run back to Glens Falls. Last year, Shenendehowa lost in the state final in a five-setter against Connetquot.
“We graduated a lot of influential seniors,” Kessler said. “It came down to work ethic, team camaraderie and being selfless. We talk about the team-first mentality all the time, and all of them bought into that.”
Shenendehowa senior Izzy Burns made the all-tournament team after collecting 27 defensive digs, and 12th-grader Ashley Lavigne piled up 51 assists, nine digs and four aces among her 15 service points. Senior Olivia DeBortoli had 11 kills and seven blocks, sophomore Rose Talty had 15 kills, and junior Payton Zophy had 21 digs, seven kills, and four aces among 18 service points.
Long Beach was 4-0 and Victor was 3-1 heading onto their match, and Victor’s 25-16 win eliminated Shenendehowa.
GOING OUT WITH A WIN
Mayfield capped its second state final four appearance with a 25-20 win over Mount Academy and completed Class D pool play at 2-4.
“At the end, the pressure was off and they played their game,” Mayfield coach Eileen Rovito said. “They played right to the end.”
Mayfield started with 25-12, 25-19 losses against Bainbridge-Guilford, beat Panama 29-27 before a 25-12 setback, and lost to Mount Academy 25-17 before evening the score.
“We finished second in our league but we won the section and we won our regional, and that was a big thing for them to get here,” Rovito said. “They wanted to get on the banner at school.”
Seniors Mikayla Myers and Samantha Kent had 19 and 17 kills, respectively, for Mayfield, and senor Emily Mormando assisted on 40 points.
Millbrook defeated Voorheesville in a tie-breaker to determine one of the Class C title-match spots 25-16 after both teams went 3-3 in pool action.
Voorheesville started its final four bid with a 25-22 loss to Millbrook before beating the Blazers 25-21. Portville then swept Voorheesville 25-8, 25-17, and the Blackbirds rebounded with a 25-23, 25-21 sweep of Mattituck.
Broadalbin-Perth went 0-6 in the Class B semis, losing to Bayport-Blue Point 25-15, 25-15, Westhill 25-16, 25-3 and Owego 25-9, 25-20.
Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 518-395-3143, [email protected] or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports