SCHENECTADY — The outcome was close, but not the one the Schenectady girls’ volleyball team had hoped for on the night its seniors were honored.
Still, fourth-year coach Ben Rosenthal was able to find a silver lining after his Patriots came back time and time again in what was a five-set setback against Ballston Spa at Pat Riley Sports Center.
“It was not the ending we wanted. Not the outcome, but there was more good stuff in that match than not-good stuff,” Rosenthal said. “We were down big and pulled our way back. The next step is winning that game.
“We’re still building the program.”
Ballston Spa eked out the last three sets 26-24, 26-24, 25-23 to forge the Suburban Council win Wednesday, with the Scotties displaying plenty of grit, too, after Schenectady opened with 25-12 and 26-24 decisions.
The clash of wills made for a thriller.
“We always talk about supporting each other,” Ballston Spa coach Heather LaSalvia said. “We talk about self-reflection. ‘How can I better support my teammates?’ It’s doing my role for the person next to you.”
In regrouping after dropping those first two sets, Ballston Spa (6-5 league, 6-5 overall) used plenty of hits between the Schenectady front and back lines to aid its comeback.
“We were coming off a good game against Burnt Hills, and we were still on that excitement,” Ballston Spa senior hitter Anna Pilkey said of her team’s start. “We weren’t ready to power on.”
Ballston Spa built a 21-14 lead in the third set before Schenectady clawed back to forge a 24-24 tie. The Scotties were the team that rallied in the fourth set after falling behind 22-18. In the fifth set, Ballston Spa went up 15-8 before Schenectady surged and knotted the score at 22.
“Something we’ve been working on is that resilience,” Rosenthal said. “It’s getting there. It’s better than it used to be.”
Rosenthal was referring to the 2017 and 2018 seasons when Schenectady (6-6, 7-6) won a combined three matches. The Patriots have won 18 matches since that point.
“It’s because we became close with each other,” said setter Marisa Gannon, who, with libero Savannah Petersen, were the four-year varsity-playing seniors honored after the match. “You win more games that way.”
“It’s all about the bonding, and having a positive attitude and encouraging each other,” Petersen said.
Schenectady trailed 13-6 in the second set before mounting its first of several rallies.
“We got in some holes and got right back up,” Petersen said.
But Gannon, who collected 32 assists to push her career total to 931, lamented the holes Schenectady faced later in the match.
“There were too many points we let get away,” Gannon said. “We let them get too much of a lead in each set.”
Schenectady junior Gelmajony Marrero Martinez had 10 of her 15 kills in the first two sets and also collected four aces and 16 digs. Petersen and Gannon led Schenectady with 22 and 20 digs, respectively, and 12th-grader Shannon McCloskey added 12 kills, three aces and 11 digs.
“The two of them have been instrumental running our offense and leading our defense,” Rosenthal said of Gannon and Petersen. “They’ll definitely be a big loss.”
The Cortland-bound Pilkey had 15 kills, 12 digs and four aces, junior Maggie Lyon had 10 kills and 11 digs for the Scotties, and 11th-grader Sarah Bozzo finished with 32 assists and 10 digs.
“We were working together and helping each other out,” Pilkey said of Ballston Spa’s sweep of the final three sets. “Everyone on the court was communicating.”
Set scores: 12-25, 26-24, 26-24, 26-24, 25-23. Ballston Spa highlights: Pilkey 15 kills, 12 digs; Bozzo 32 assists, 10 digs; Lyon 10 kills, 11 digs. Schenectady highlights: Marrero Martinez 15 kills, 16 digs; Gannon 32 assists, 20 digs; Petersen 22 digs; McCloskey 12 kills, 11 digs.