SARATOGA SPRINGS – Broadalbin-Perth continues its rhythm of the Section II girls’ volleyball championship, while Shendehowa takes the first steps toward starting her own Friday at Saratoga Springs High School.
After seeing her run of successive Section II Class AA championships in 2019 stalled at nine and no Section II volleyball championships contested in the last school year due to restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic, top seed Shenendehova won 25-7. , produced 23-25, 25-16, 25-16 victory against second seed Colombia which Plainsmen head coach Lori Kessler’s schedule had been yearning to deliver.
“This year, we called it our comeback season,” said Shendendhowa senior Heather Junjulas, “and we pulled it off.”
“Everybody wanted to win this game,” said Ryan Enist, Shenandoah’s senior. “We knew we had to get the job done.”
Shenandoahova had lost to Niscuna in the final of 2019. In the first week of practice this season, Kessler discussed with her players how she wanted the region’s desire to reclaim the Class AA championship to motivate them throughout the campaign.
“Sometimes, getting knocked out can have a silver lining because it makes you hungry for more — and this group worked very hard for it, because they wanted to return that legacy to the program,” Kessler said.
Shenendova won the opening set, then saw Colombia win the most competitive set of the night. Kessler said that his club played “a bit frantic” in that second set, but his team responded with two strong games.
“We came together as a team and talked about what we needed to do to improve for the next one” [sets]Junjulas spoke of the plainsman’s reaction after Colombia’s match was tied. “I’m really proud of my teammates for how we carried on after losing that set.”
“We knew we needed to focus everyone doing our job where they should have been and making sure we executed at every point,” Enist said.
In the championship win, junior Emma Palivodzinski made 44 assists and 19 digs, freshman Reagan Enist contributed 15 kills and seven digs, and junior Grace Almeida scored 14 kills and seven blocks. Meanwhile, sophomore Cassia Barletta produced 28 digs, Junjulas added a dozen kills, Ryan Enist contributed six kills, and Cambrie Adams contributed 11 digs.
For Colombia, Leah Phillips had 11 kills, Erica Silliman produced 31 assists and 15 digs, Natalie Littrell produced eight kills and five digs, and Miranda King added seven kills and 14 digs.
Shenendová went on to play the following Friday against a Section III foe at Gloversville High School for a regional championship.
In the only set they lost on Friday night, Broadalbin-Perth showed championship-level resolve.
In the next one, head coach Kayla Twardzic’s team showed just how high their game could reach.
“These girls are led by such an amazing group of seniors who really inspire them,” Twardzic said of his club. “That’s all they wanted.”
Top seed Broadalbin-Perth secured the third-straight Section II Class B championship of their program with a 25–15, 23–25, 25–11, 25–18 victory against second seed Holy Names.
Against Holy Names, Broadalbin-Perth never fell behind in the first set before falling back early in the second. Holy Names took a 17-8 lead in their second set – and when Broadalbein-Perth’s comeback began, the team never really gave up.
Nine points down in the second set, Broadbin-Perth put together a 13-1 run to advance. While Holy Names offered his return to win the set, the tone was set for the rest of the match. Throughout the season, Twardczyk said that he instructed his players to focus on individual points – not sets or matches – and that the “point, point by point” mentality served the team in its championship win.
“When we got down, we just thought about, ‘What do we need to do to get to this point? Twardzic said.
While Broadalbin-Perth did not win the second set, senior Sophia Rogers said the team’s confidence was at a high as the third began.
“We were down by now” [in the second set] And only lost by two points,” Rogers said. “At the time, the momentum was on our side.”
Broadalbin-Perth did the same. The team scored the first seven points in the third set and put themselves on the verge of winning the Section II championship with a 25–11 victory.
“We had upped our energy and we were very excited,” Rogers said. “At every point, we were cheering our hearts out. We knew we could do it, and we were pushing as hard as we could.”
Holy Names opened the fourth set with a 10–5 start, but Broadalbin-Perth scored 19 of the next 21. . . And then had to wait a bit for the championship winning point. Head coach Nancy Neff’s Holy Names squad scored six consecutive points with their season on the line, but Broadlebin-Perth took the title with a hit from Rogers that Holy Names could not return.
In the championship win, freshman Laurel Mitchell made 32 assists, Rogers contributed 23 kills, and senior Olivia Fraser added nine aces. Also for Broadalbin-Perth, junior Samantha Westfall produced five kills and four aces and senior Shelby Fenton three kills.
Broadbin-Perth will play either a Section VII or Section X team in their next competition, and this regional championship matchup will take place on November 13 at Gloversville High School.
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