Burnt Hills girls stymied by Calhoun defense in state Class A volleyball championship match

Burnt Hill-Ballston Lake's McKenna Law leaps up and spikes the ball against a Sanford H. Calhoun defender in the NYSPHSAA Class A girls' volleyball final at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls Sunday.
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Burnt Hill-Ballston Lake's McKenna Law leaps up and spikes the ball against a Sanford H. Calhoun defender in the NYSPHSAA Class A girls' volleyball final at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls Sunday.

GLENS FALLS — Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake wasn’t able to string together points like it often had this season and lost to Calhoun in straight sets Sunday in the state Class A volleyball championship match.

After a big comeback performance in the semifinal round Saturday vaulted the Spartans into their 15th New York final and third in a row, the Colts snatched the title from the two-time defending champs 25-11, 25-19, 25-19 at Cool Insuring Arena.

“That’s one of the best defensive teams we’ve played in the state,” Burnt Hills coach Gary Bynon said after his young team was unable to add to the program’s eight state flags. “Every single one of them played great defense. Credit to them. They deserved it.”

Burnt Hills didn’t go down without a fight, and opened up an 8-1 lead in the third set. The Colts gradually caught up, though, and with the Spartans leading 18-17, the Section VIII reps from Nassau County closed with an 8-1 run of their own.

“We saw that before in the counties against South Side,” Calhoun coach Christina Strezenec said of her team’s early deficit. “We rose to the occasion and figured it out as a team.”

Burnt Hills had lost to Calhoun to begin Saturday’s semifinal pool play round 25-22, 25-11.

“Against Calhoun you’ve got to battle for every point,” Bynon said. “They put constant pressure on you.”

Burnt Hills rebounded Saturday with sweeps of Irondequoit 25-23, 25-22 and Cornwall 26-24, 25-12. Burnt Hills and Cornwall both had 2-2 records heading into their make-or-break match.

Calhoun went 5-1 Saturday.

“What we went through yesterday was unbelievable. We were behind in every one of our first five games and came back and made a game of it,” Bynon said. “It was one of the most unbelievable days of my 35 years in coaching the way they came back and came back.”

Senior setter Danielle DeBonis was a standout Saturday with 44 assists and she added 20 more in Sunday’s final. Sophomore Sarah Robbins had 12 kills Saturday and six more Sunday, while senior Peyton Felix had 12 digs and three kills in the title match and junior Sophia Tassone had seven kills.

“Look at what this group lost,” Bynon said, referring to the 2021 team that graduated six seniors including state tournament MVP Carlie Rzeszotarski and her frontline sidekick Callie Chevalier. “Two seniors and 13 underclassmen said Burnt Hills is going to play on the last day.”

DeBonis and Felix anchored the Spartans, who were able to extend their Section II and regional championship win streaks to 20 in a row. Earlier in the season, the Spartans collected their 35th consecutive Suburban Council division title.

“We don’t make it to today without those two seniors,” Bynon said. “They just led us. They are both so amazing in their own way.”

Burnt Hills was in search of its first state title three-peat after collecting back-to-back state Class A flags in 2004 and 2005, 2011 and 2012, and again in 2019 and 2021. No New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships were held in any sport in the 2020-21 school year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Burt Hills was able to extend its state record for consecutive final four appearances, though, when it swept Massena in the regionals on the same day DeBonis reached the 2,000 assist mark for her career.

“The way they represented our program and community is something I am very proud of,” Bynon said.

Burnt Hills swept Walter Panas a year ago for the school’s eighth state championship.

Categories: High School Sports, Scotia Glenville, Sports, Sports

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