ESM, MPH volleyball make sectional runs
In three different Section III playoff brackets, area high school girls volleyball teams sought to reach the semifinal rounds, and two of them did so in strikingly different manners.
East Syracuse Minoa had the no. 3 seed in Class A and would meet no. 6 seed Rome Free Academy in last Thursday night’s quarterfinal. Without much stress, the Spartans swept the Black Knights.
They had met twice in the regular season, ESM surviving a five-set decision in early December but getting a sweep of RFA in January. The third encounter was the most lopsided of all.
Nearly getting a first-set shutout, the Spartans took that set 25-4. The second set wasn’t much different, ESM winning it 25-10 before closing out the Black Knights 25-16 in the third.
Gillianne McCarthy and Franchesca Polcaro both finished with nine kills, McCarthy adding four aces. Aubrie Williams added five kills as Isabella Talarico gained 22 assists and joined Riley Abbot in earning three kills. Kat Boland and Amber Unislawski had two aces apiece.
In the sectional semifinal Tuesday night, ESM would face no. 2 seed Whitesboro, whom it lost to twice in the regular season. The winner would get to Saturday’s sectional final at Chittenango High School against Carthage or Watertown.
A year ago, Manlius-Pebble Hill upended no. 2 seed Blessed Virgin Mary in the Class D sectional tournament. Now the Trojans had a chance to beat the Saints again in that same quarterfinal round.
Here, though, MPH was the no. 8 seed and BVM the top seed, and the Saints won the first two sets by narrow 25-23 margins and, in the third set, were just two points away from a sweep.
Somehow, the Trojans came back from this brink, pulled out the third set 27-25, and then eased to a 25-21 victory in the fourth set before a final set that saw MPH play at its best to claim a memorable 25-17 victory.
With 32 assists to go with four kills, three aces and five digs, Ren Brown anchored the Trojans’ efforts as Halle Erwin amassed 12 kills, six aces and 11 digs.
Anna Szombathy and Mariah Rinaldi had 19 digs apiece, Rinaldi adding five kills as Liza Bruno had six kills and 12 digs. Sara Smith got 10 digs and three kills. Emma Purce had eight digs and two aces. Phoebe Ambron contributed four kills and three digs.
Before all that, MPH first had to get past no. 9 seed McGraw in last Tuesday’s opening round, and it did so in a three-set sweep, the Trojans claiming the first two sets by equal 25-20 margins before finishing off the Eagles 25-19 in the third.
Ren Brown finished with 30 assists and five kills. Halle Erwin put together six aces, six kills and eight digs as Mariah Rinaldi earned 13 kills. Liza Bruno also had six kills. Phoebe Ambrose contributed three kills and five digs as Anna Szombathy earned six digs and three aces.
The upset of Blessed Virgin Mary sent MPH in the semifinals Tuesday against no. 4 seed DeRuyter, with the winner to get to the sectional final against Morrisville-Eaton or Fabius-Pompey.
In Class B, Christian Brothers Academy started out as the no. 6 seed and would travel north for its sectional quarterfinal against no. 3 seed Lowville once heavy winter snows cleared out.
The delay did little to save the Brothers, though, as it lost 25-13 to the Red Raiders in the first two sets and 25-16 in the third. Ashton Houppert led Lowville with 20 assists, 13 digs, seven kills and three aces. CBA’s season ended with a 9-9 record.