BURNT HILLS — The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls’ volleyball team didn’t tiptoe through the Fall II season.
Instead, the Spartans waltzed their way to a perfect season, a feat they capped with a three-set win over Shenendehowa in the Suburban Council championship Friday night.
The Spartans (20-0) dismissed the Plainsmen 25-13, 25-20, 25-12 with Suburban Council MVP Carlie Rzeszotarski serving for the championship point after scoring the winning point with an overhead slam at the net in the match’s second game.
“I really like that feeling because I have control and I wanted to finish that set out and just go for the championship,” Rzeszotarski said “I like being back there and having control.”
Volleyball is regularly a fall sport, but due to restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the sport’s season was moved to March and April as part of a “Fall II” season. Players continued to wear masks during practices and competitions, and other precautions were placed on all volleyball squads, limiting contact among teammates after each point — the customary high-fives and group huddles.
So Rzeszotarski had to modify her own in-game rituals with her teammates.
“In the game, I am all about routine and I have to do one thing before every point,” she said. “Usually, I would go around and do my round of high-fives, but this year it was kind of doing the toe-tap or the air high-fives.
“Just getting into a routine with everybody and kind of doing the same type of thing and being safe with COVID was part of it.”
Rzeszotarski led Burnt Hills with 17 kills, followed by teammate Callie Chevalier with seven and Claire Isaksen dishing out 30 assists in the three-set win.
Despite losing to the Spartans for the third time this season, Shenendehowa became the first team to score 20 points in a game against Burnt Hills.
The 25-20 second set score served purposes for both squads.
“We’ve had some interesting game twos the last two weeks, but at 17-17 we dug in, made some big plays and went from there,” Burnt Hills coach Gary Bynon said. “We made a major change in how we were blocking. . . . That was all the difference in the world. They got touch after touch after touch and that was huge for us.”
Shenendehowa (16-3) was led by Rose Talty’s nine kills, while Heather Junjulas had seven. Emma Paliwodzinski had 14 assists.
“We were coming off a pretty good high from last night [3-0 win versus Niskayuna],” Shenendehowa coach Lori Kessler said. “I was really proud of them the way they hung with them point for point in the second set. It’s a tough team to hang with for three sets straight, but we did our best.”
How the Spartans responded after the competitive second set, Rzeszotarski said, provided one last highlight for the team’s perfect season.
“A set being that close for the first time this season, I think we were a little bit rattled — but I’m really proud of how we came back and won that set,” Rzeszotarski said. “I think we did a great job responding to it.”
Set scores: 25-13, 25-20, 25-12. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake highlights: Chevalier, 7 kills; Isaksen, 30 assists; Rzeszotarski, 17 kills. Shenendehowa highlights: Talty, 9 kills; Almeida, 5 blocks; Paliwodzinski, 14 assists; Macken, 12 assists; Barletta 19 digs.