GLENS FALLS – Whether it’s the first time or the 10th time, winning a state championship is really sweet.
All one has to do is ask the Eden girls volleyball team, which secured a state record 10th championship here Sunday at the Glens Falls Civic Center; or Ellicottville, which won its first state girls volleyball title.
Eden swept Voorheesville en route to its fourth consecutive Class C title. Set scores were 25-19, 25-21, and 25-18.
“We’ve had great players come through, but no one who’s ever gotten four [in a row],” Eden coach Stephen Pierce said. “We have a couple of juniors that have been on the team since eighth grade, so maybe they can go for their fifth.”
Ellicottville also won in a sweep over defending champion Haldane to take the Class D crown.
Meanwhile, the Lake Shore boys volleyball team fell in the Division II championship match to Bellmore of Section VIII to conclude the day of championship volleyball action
For both Eden and Ellicottville, the second set proved to be key to their triumphs.
Eden was behind, 15-9, in the second set before rallying to tie score at 19. The Raiders closed the set with a 6-2 run.
“I have to mark my junior serving specialist Taylor Mitchell, who really turned the game around with her serving,” Pierce said. “I think she had five points in a row. We couldn’t get any closer than three until she served.”
State tourney MVP Lainy Pierce had 33 assists and 12 kills in the match for the Raiders. Heather Holscher also added 19 kills.
In Eden’s match against Voorheesville on Saturday, the teams split, 1-1.
Getting a preview of what the Blackbirds were capable of made the Eden team nervous.
“The second game against them, everything went wrong for us, and they played very well,” Pierce said. “Teams that have good ball control, they pass well and play defense well will always hang with everybody, and that’s what that team does.”
Ellicottville coach Kelly Unverdorbin last June told her team it had a chance to win a state championship this season. On Sunday, the Eagles proved Unverdorbin right.
During the entire season, the Eagles dropped only one set.
Ellicottville, coming off a 25-23 first-set victory, battled to a 26-24 win in the pivotal second set before wrapping up the title with a 25-12 win in the third.
“It got a little nerve racking in that second set, but I kept my team really calm and told them let’s worry about the next point, not worry about the last one,” Unverdorbin said. “Just keep plugging away one point at a time.
“I told them if they get by this second set, the third set’s going to be easier for them and also harder, so just get through,” Unverdorbin said. “Just keep doing what you do, and don’t change a thing.”
That one set the Eagles had dropped earlier in the year came when the team made 11 serving errors within the set. Unverdorbin said it was good for her team to learn early how costly those errors could be.
“It was good for us in a way,” she said. “It made us really focus on some things and understand if you serve balls in the net or out of bounds, you could lose for that reason.”
Courtney Scanlan won tournament MVP honors in Class D for the Eagles.
“Courtney is a monster, so to speak, in a nice way,” Unverdorbin said.
Scanlan finished the match with 15 kills and five blocks. Janae Hamilton added 13 kills and eight blocks, while Marissa Hamilton had 28 assists. Madison Szpaicher had 22 digs and five kills.
In the Divison II title match, the Lake Shore boys team fell in three sets to Bellmore, 25-17, 25-20, 25-16.
Head coach John Coyle said his team seemed a little tight coming into the match.
“I thought we started out fairly well, but as the match went on, we started paralyzing ourselves, maybe overthinking a little bit, not moving our feet,” he said.
It was the first time Lake Shore had played for the state title, and Coyle said Bellmore turned in a complete performance.
“Bellmore played a great match,” he said. “They didn’t make a lot of mistakes. They passed well, they served well. They were hitting the ball in the right spots.”
Even though the loss was tough, Coyle said he was proud of his team for making it this far.
“It was a good run for this group of kids,” he said.
“They were three-year starters, most of them, and this is the farthest a Section VI team has gone, so it’s quite an accomplishment.”