GLOVERSVILLE — It was a night of milestone performances at the regional girls’ volleyball championship matches Friday night at Gloversville High School.
Shenendehowa junior setter Emma Paliwodzinski posted 37 assists to surpass the 1,000-career assist mark in the Plainsmen’s 25-18,
25-16, 25-21 sweep of Fayetteville-Manlius in the Class AA regional championship.
In Class A, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake’s Callie Chevalier and Danielle Debonis also reached career milestones in the Spartans’ 25-14, 25-11, 25-10 over Section III champion Fulton.
Chevalier, a senior, drove home her 1,000th career kill in the second game of the sweep, while Debonis, a junior, topped the 1,000 assist mark in the match to placed Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the state final four for a state-record 19th straight time.
Shenendehowa is headed back to the NYSPHSAA Class AA championships in Glens Falls for the first time since 2018.
“We had been there five years prior to that, so we are calling this our comeback,” Shenendehowa coach Lori Kessler said. “It is so exciting, but at the same time, it is a lot to prepare for because we have three teams that we have to face on Saturday. We need to fine tune some things on our end and be prepared for the other teams. If we prepare and play our best, I think we will be OK.”
After managing the pressure from Fayetteville-Manlius in the opening two games, Shenendehowa scrambled to keep the Hornets at bay in the third game.
“It was really anxious [on the sideline] because they kept it a two to three point game,” Kessler said. “We would get back even with them, and then drop the next couple of points. When it was 20-20 we said ‘Guys, we just climbed our way back and there is no going back now. It is pushing forward to the end of the game,’ and they did just that.”
Paliwodzinski finished with 37 assists and 10 digs, while freshman Reagan Ennist had 12 kills, six digs and two blocks and Ryan Ennist added seven kills and four blocks to go with six kills and three blocks from Sabrina Kinkaid and nine blocks, eight kills from Grace Almeida.
“Emma is a junior and has been with me since she was a freshman,” Kessler said. “This was a big moment for her and our program. She has transformed herself as a player and it is only fitting that she got her 1,000th assist on tonight’s championship.”
Burnt Hills, the defending Class A state champion, served notice it’s ready to make a run at another state title.
Led by well-placed assists from Danielle Debonis that led to blistering kills from senior outside hitters Callie Chevalier and Carlie Rzeszotarski, the Spartans swept Fulton.
“This group is a volleyball team,” Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake coach Gary Bynon said. “They absolutely care about each other and want each other to do well. I am just so blessed to be a part of it. We believe in each other and that is what you need at this time of the year.”
During the championship match, Chevalier and Debonis reached career milestones, which Chevalier topping the 1,000 kill mark and Debonis going over 1,000 career assists.
“It was definitely on my mind,” Chevalier said. “The first few I was like I should have gotten that one. I was really getting nervous about it. Then everyone started telling me to calm down, you’ll get it.”
Debonis kept feeding the senior outside hitter, as well as Rzeszotarski, who is also a member of the 1,000-kill club.
“I look for who is on, my best hitters, and try to get the ball to them but also like to mix it up as well,” Debonis said. “I didn’t get much playing time last year, but this year, I have been trying to get my timing down with my hitters. Just getting reps in has been key. I can go to Callie or Carlie and know they are going to put it down.”
Chevalier finished the night with 11 kills and nine digs, while Rzeszotarski has 18 kills and six digs and Debonis finished with 33 assists and three digs to go with eight digs from Kiera Hartpence.
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Categories: High School Sports, Sports