In advancing to the state semifinals, the Shenendehowa girls’ volleyball team received what it needed most from Saturday’s match against Section III’s Baldwinsville: A stiff challenge.
“This was a really good thing for us,” Shenendehowa junior Nicole Adams said. “It shows us what we can handle and highlights some flaws we can work on so we can get that much better.”
The Plainsmen advanced to next weekend’s state semifinals in Glens Falls after a hard-fought 26-24, 26-24, 25-16 victory at Gloversville High School. Shenendehowa (23-2) will be making its third consecutive trip to the season’s final weekend of action after claiming its latest Class AA regional championship, following a win in which junior Mary Talty had 13 kills and Adams had 10 to help lead the Plainsmen.
“This is amazing for our program,” Adams said. “We’re so proud of all of us, and this shows how hard we’ve worked every day.”
Shenendehowa struggled early against Baldwinsville, which jumped out to a 5-2 lead and later built a 21-17 advantage in the first set.
“This team showed us a better block than we’ve seen,” said Shenendehowa senior Rachel Millington, who had eight kills. “We had to get our defense better together so we could set up our offense. That was a challenge for us.”
So, too, was staying level-headed.
“When they’re blocking us like that, it’s hard to stay positive,” Millington said.
But the Plainsmen rallied back to win the first set after falling behind. A Millington kill put Shenendehowa up 25-24, while an ace from Adams ended the first set.
The second set, though, was just as tense as the first. After Shenendehowa built a 17-10 lead, Baldwinsville rallied to go ahead 21-20.
“They were very strong,” Shenendehowa head coach Lori Kessler said of Baldwinsville. “I was amazed by their overall scrappiness. You’d think a point was finished, and then they’d get the ball back up and send it over. They were great.”
But the Plainsmen, who also received six kills from senior Meghan Greene, were better. After winning a close second set, Shenendehowa turned a close start in the third into a runaway win. Trailing 11-10 in the third set, Shenendehowa put together a 10-1 run to seize control for good.
“We just got on a roll,” Millington said of the match’s final set.
Shenendehowa won one of six sets in 2014 at the state final four tournament before going 3-3 last year. The experience of winning Saturday’s intense match, Kessler said, will only help the Plainsmen when they head back to Glens Falls next weekend in search of their first state championship.
“This was awesome preparation for the state tournament,” she said. “That’s how every set will be there.”