MASSENA - After having won the NAC West Division and Section 10 Class C championships, some cruel twists of fate worked against the Potsdam Central girls volleyball team in the opening round of the NYSPHSAA playoffs on Wednesday.
The Lady Sandstoners went into their match against Section 7 champion AuSable Valley at the Massena Central high school gym with eight players dressed to play and two other regulars sitting on the sidelines with crutches at their sides, including starting junior setter Sarah Vivlamore and freshman Emily Fecketter. Both sustained season-ending ankle injuries in Mondays loss to Franklin Academy in the semi-finals of the Section 10 Overall Tournament.
You hear people say all the time that things happen for a reason. Im not sure why it turned out this way but I couldnt be any prouder of the way we played tonight, said coach Julia Pahler after the Lady Sandstoners fell to the Patriots in three straight sets - 25-13, 25-19, 25-19.
Sarah was our setter and after she was injured, we knew we were going to have to adjust to playing without her. We showed our nerves in the first set but those last two sets, we showed a lot of heart and made them work hard to win them, Pahler added.
After trading points to open the match, the Patriots took control of the first set when they stretched a 7-5 lead to 21-12. The Lady Sandstoners built their biggest lead of the match in the second set where they went ahead 14-9 before AV battled back to score seven of the next nine points to pull even at 16-16.
They eventually closed out the set by generating five of the last six.
The Lady Sandstoners fell behind 14-6 in the third before a strong serving sequence by senior Victoria Mondragon keyed a six-point run that cut the deficit to 14-12. Potsdam pulled even at 17-17 on a serve by freshman Samantha Heer, who was called up for the playoffs following a promising modified season, but senior Mirissa ONeill served up five straight points, including a pair of aces, to help push the Patriot lead to 22-18 and the Lady Sandstoners would get no closer.
Mondragon closed out an outstanding varsity career at Potsdam by serving up a team-high six points and notching a team-leading three kills to go along with one kill and one ace. Classmate Katie Burke tallied two points, one kill and one block. Senior Miranda Mangual worked the net for a team-high four blocks. Heer (3 aces), senior Erica Mason and junior Elna Daby contributed three service points each.
ONeill finished with 11 points in leading the Patriots. She also fashioned nine assists, six kills, four digs and two blocks while classmate Noelle Miller generated nine digs, seven kills, five points and three aces. Senior Miranda Sheffer finished with nine digs, eight assists, seven kills, four points and two aces. Junior Lindsay Brown produced 10 points, seven digs, five kills and four aces. Classmates Jocelyn Racette (7 points, 3 digs) and Alexandra Lincoln (4 digs, 2 points) rounded out the AuSable Valley effort.
The Patriots improved to 18-1 with the win and will now get set to take on Section 2 champion Voorheesville at the Gloversville High School gym on Saturday at 2 p.m.
In the other two state tournament openers against Section 7 champions at the Massena high school gym on Wednesday, Chateaugay swept past Lake Placid in the Class D matchup while Beekmantown swept Franklin Academy in Class B.
In the middle match of the night, the Lady Bulldogs raised their undefeated record to 20-0 in convincing fashion after downing the Blue Bombers 25-12, 25-16, 25-10.
Junior Kylie Hanley led the dominating performance for Chateaugay, dropping all 14 of her service attempts in play to finish with 10 points, including a pair of aces, while working the court for 15 assists.
Kylie is our setter and she made great decisions the whole match. She also played her best defensive game of the season, noted coach Chris Reynolds.
Junior Shelby Yanulavich also made lead all-around contibutions toward the winning effort with 20 points, seven kills and five aces.
The Lady Bulldogs, who have advanced to the state Class D tournament every year since Section 10 moved volleyball season to the fall in 2006, put their undefeated record on the line on Saturday when they take on Section 2 champion Waterford at the Gloversville High School gym starting at 4 p.m.