Their uniforms may have said “Lockport,” but the Lions felt their reach extended further.
The Section VI boys volleyball finals tend to showcase the strength of the ECIC, but on Wednesday the Lions flexed the muscle of the Niagara Frontier League in beating Frontier in three games.
The 25-21, 25-18, 25-21 victory in the Class A match ended Lockport’s long wait for its first section title. The last NFL team to win a sectional title was Kenmore West in 2000.
“It’s the first time Lockport has been in the sectionals with the Southtowns and we wanted to show that our program has come a long way and that we can play any of these teams,” said Lockport coach Joe Whalen. “It’s been a while since the NFL has been here. This means a lot to us.”
The Lions (24-3) will play the winner of tonight’s Section V final between McQuaid and Webster on Saturday in a 4 p.m. regional at Midlakes.
Lockport’s Shawn Moore had six kills and seven blocks while Brad Schneider had 13 kills. “Brad is usually my go-to guy and he had a great night, but Shawn played the best match so far this year,” said Whalen. “He blocked great, stayed at the net, and just really controlled things defensively.”
Four-year senior setter Jack Whalen, the program’s career assists leader and son of the coach, predicted Lockport would make the final.
“For Lockport, it was nothing we’ve ever done, and it was everything we’ve ever wanted,” Jack Whalen said. “It was nice to come out here and show a couple of these guys who’s boss. I don’t think they came as prepared as we did. We were hustling the entire game. We came out the first point like we were ready until the last point we were ready.”
The Falcons (9-13) found another gear the past couple of weeks and played themselves into what was their fourth consecutive trip to the final.
“We played with so much emotion for the past week that at some point – we definitely ran out of some steam tonight,” said Frontier coach Bill Faust. “We really had been playing some lockdown defense, tonight I’ve got to hand it to Lockport, they outplayed us in a lot of facets. They earned it.”
Hitting errors and unforced errors robbed Frontier of sustaining any momentum and they also had issues at the net against the Lions’ 6-foot-8 Jason Donorovich and the 6-6 Moore.
Frontier was led by Jake Gleason’s 30 assists and 16 kills from Dylan Durni and 13 by Erik Hatten.
“Just to be here meant a lot, but we have high expectations of our program,” Faust said. “The last four years we’ve been in the dance and we took two of them, but these last two, we let it slip a little bit.”
Hamburg (26-2) lived up to its No. 1 ranking in Western New York by beating Williamsville South, 25-18, 22-25, 25-15, 25-19. The title was the first for the Bulldogs since 2009. Hamburg will play the Section V champion in the regionals on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Midlakes.
When South tied the match at 1-1, the Bulldogs took it as a chance to refocus. “I wasn’t nervous, it was a little bit of a wakeup call,” said coach Brian Carroll. “Sometimes you need to get smacked in the face a little bit.”
Hamburg’s Trevor Vail kept South on its heels with seven aces. Carroll said Doug Horbachewski made the most of his additional swings.
The Billies ended their season 24-3, including the ECIC II crown at 12-0.
South’s Anthony Podgorsak dominated the net with 19 kills. “He had great passing, a great attack, he’s the heart of the team,” said South coach Thom Knab. “What we were really trying to do is spread it around as much as we could. We struggled a little with passing, so we weren’t always able to do that.”