Shenendehowa’s young volleyball team refused to be pushed around by a New York heavyweight Saturday, and even did some pushing of its own.
The Lady Plainsmen put together superb comebacks in the first two sets and played on even terms for much of the third in a Class AA regional loss to Baldwinsville at Gloversville High School.
Senior Brooke Lane sparkled in her final varsity match with nine kills, and fast-rising sophomores Taylor Murphy and Hayley Macken stepped forward in Shenendehowa’s 25-21, 25-22, 25-21 defeat.
“When we started to get down on ourselves, we picked each other up and thought positive things,” said Lane, an outside hitter who added nine digs and a pair of blocks. “We thought about getting the next point.”
Shenendehowa made a different kind of point with its play Saturday and beforehand in that these girls are going to be making big noise for quite some time. Lane and Devyn Morlock are the team’s only seniors, and sophomore Natsumi Takamori will also depart as she heads back to Japan after the school year.
“They were deer in headlights in the beginning of the season. Today, they played in the regionals. They listened to everything they were told and worked hard. It’s a tribute to them,” said Shenendehowa coach Lori Kessler. “I feel we’re state-bound. It’s a goal. They want to get to the next level of play. They’re hungry for it.”
Shenendehowa’s sophomore-dominated team placed second behind Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the Suburban Council North Division before capturing the school’s third straight Section II title with sweeps of Schenectady, Shaker and top-seeded Guilderland.
“We’ll certainly miss our seniors, but there’s more to come from this team.” said Kessler.
“I watched them every day in practice, and every day I’d say, ‘They got better,’ ” said Lane. “I’m going to be supporting these girls for years to come. I think bigger things are ahead of them.”
Shenendehowa (17-6) was never competitive against Baldwinsville (17-0) before Saturday’s match. The Bees of Section III beat the Lady Plainsmen last year, 25-15, 25-10, 25-21, before placing second in the state. The Bees also prevailed the year before, 25-9, 25-6, 25-11, on the way to the state championship.
“We were worried about them. They’re a solid team,” said Baldwinsville coach Mary Joe Cerqua. “We didn’t expect it to be easy.”
Shenendehowa got within 23-21 in the first set after trailing, 15-7, and took a 21-20 lead in the second set after falling behind, 16-9. Lane began Shenendehowa’s 12-4 run in the second set by sandwiching kills around a stuff block, and capped it with another kill.
“Before the third set, I said, ‘Let’s not get down by seven points. Let’s put ourselves ourselves in a better position,’ ” said Kessler. “We did that.”
The third set was tied for the 11th time at 14-14. Lexi Lagoy broke it with a kill and a hit out of bounds gave the Bees a 16-14 edge. Shenendehowa got within one point three times after that, at 16-15, 17-16 and 19-18 on an ace by Takamori.
“When we did a good job on defense, we got our offense going,” said Kessler. “We were able to put together a couple of runs.”
Takamori had nine digs, Macken assisted on 27 points to go with three kills and two blocks, and Murphy had three blocks and 11 kills. Murphy had two kills in Shenendehowa’s 12-4 Set 2 run, and Murphy and 10th-grader Connie Krause both had two kills in its 14-8 Set 1 run.
Baldwinsville leaned heavily on Lagoy, its 6-foot middle hitter who totaled 17 kills. The junior ended the second and third sets with kills, while Rachel Aiello finished the first with one of her eight kills.
Maureen Thayer had 36 assists for the Bees, and Allegra Lee Bell had eight of their 40 kills.
“That No. 11 [Lagoy] is a phenomenal player for them. She finished points for them,” said Kessler. “I wish we could have shut her down a little better, but we struggled with our blocking, and that was a big factor. We’re usually better at it.”
In the second match at Gloversville, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake spread the wealth at the net and excelled in the serving and defense departments in a 25-12, 25-22, 25-9 Class A regional win over Oswego (Section III, 13-5).
Siena Wilder had 15 of the Spartans’ 45 defensive digs, Erica Ziskin served for 10 straight points early in the third set, and Natalie Moore and Natalie Schurman both served for seven consecutive points to help BH-BL rally from a 7-5 deficit in the first set.
“When you talk about our group, it’s serve and defense,” coach Gary Bynon said after BH-BL won its 11th regional title in as many years. “That’s such a big thing for us, and the girls take a lot of pride in that.”
Lynsea Hensel had a kill to give BH-BL (20-0, 28-2 including tournaments) the side out at the beginning of the third set. Ziskin then triggered 10 unanswered points, and the Spartans were on their way back to the Glens Falls Civic Center where last fall they secured the program’s fourth state championship.
Moore and Schurman both had a pair of aces during their long serve runs which helped the Spartans build a 21-8 advantage earlier in the match.
“It’s always a good feeling to get a service run against a great team, but it’s a team thing. Everyone has to do their part,” said Ziskin, one of BH-BL’s seven seniors. “You don’t want it to stop.”
Hensel had eight of her team’s 31 kills and four blocks, Molly McCormack had six kills including set finishers in the second and third, and Jessica Dillon totaled five kills, 16 assists and seven digs. Ziskin had 13 assists, Moore had nine digs, and Natalie and Kathleen Schurman both added five kills.
“This is not a flashy group. They’re just steady and even keeled, and they go out and give themselves a chance to win,” said Bynon.
LADY BILLS win
In Class B, Annie Stock had 17 kills and eight digs as Johnstown defeated Massena, 25-20, 25-13, 25-12, at SUNY-Canton. Zara Hyde had 20 assists six kills, six digs and an ace, while Elizabeth Hayward had 14 digs.
Libby Bjork collected 30 assists and 10 points, and Emma Sprotbery, Mariel McGinnis and Caroline Bablin had nine, eight and seven kills, respectively, as Voorheesville (21-0) dealt Salmon River (Section X, 15-4) a 13-25, 25-12, 25-19, 25-6 Class C regional defeat.
Hartford (18-2) defeated Chateaugay (Section X, 18-2) in a Class D regional final, 19-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-18. Gwenn Harsha sparked Hartford with 17 points, eight aces, 12 kills and 11 digs.
Kevin Mahar assisted on 20 points and Sam Powers served five aces as Bethlehem defeated Section I’s Suffern for the third year in a row, 25-15, 25-13, 25-22, in a Division I regional match.
Aaron Carrk had six kills and Myles Bergere had five kills for the Eagles (25-1), who’ll see state semifinal action Saturday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.