Eden has reached the state final four each year since 1999 in girls volleyball. The Olean Huskies?
Partcipating deep into the postseason is kind of new to them, but one thing the two programs have in common is that each still has a chance to earn spots in Glens Falls.
The Raiders (23-9-3) advance to Saturday’s Super Regional in suburban Syracuse by beating defending Section V champion Waterloo, 25-10, 25-11, 25-13, in a Class C Far West Regional match Thursday night at Genesee Community College in Batavia.
Olean, a first-time Section VI champion, kept its season alive by dispatching V-Midlakes, 17-25, 25-13, 25-15, 25-19, in the nightcap at GCC.
The Raiders have won three straight state titles and nine total during coach Stephen Pierce’s coaching tenure. This year’s run is a bit different in that not only does Eden need to win three matches in four days in order to return to states, the Raiders will have piled up the miles doing so – having played at Sweet Home High School in Amherst during Wednesday’s Section VI final and having to travel to Saturday’s Super Regional at 1 p.m. against Section III champion Cazenovia at Jamesville-DeWitt High School.
“That alone is a challenge,” Pierce said of the travel.
Eden did itself a favor by playing another short match (it beat Falconer in the sectional final in 61 minutes) and taking a strong crowd for the opposition out of the match in the process. Eden bolted to a 17-4 lead in the opening game behind a strong service and transition game and coasted from there. Junior Heather Holsher had 17 kills, while Lainy Pierce, the coach’s niece, added eight kills and three blocks. Megan McCarthy had two aces and three blocks. Jackie Bonczar had nine digs and Taylor Mitchell three digs and two aces.
In Class B, Olean overcame a slow start with sound communication and even better defense. The Huskies finished with 78 digs as a team. Janelle Shaffer led Olean (24-1) with 15 kills and 13 digs. Setter Bri Spears delivered 36 assists,24 digs and eight kills and Kelly VanBrunt had 10 kills and eight digs.
“We have nothing to lose,” Olean coach Melody Jones said. “Everything is an accomplishment for them up to this point.”