February 10, 2012
Trojans roll in opener
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Logan McEvoy (9) and Katie Sinclair (18), of Homer, leap to block a shot by Naomi Walts, of VVS, during the Trojans’ first-round sectional victory Thursday night.
At first glance, it appears that Homer Central had little trouble winning its Section 3 Class B quarterfinal volleyball match...and you could be right.
The top-seeded Trojans swept visiting eight-seed Vernon-Verona-Sherrill 25-23, 25-12, 25-10 for head coach Brian Fox’s 100th career victory. What those scores, other than the first set, don’t show is that all three sets were close at 10-8 before Homer would pull away to improve to 18-1 overall.
Homer will face fourth-seed Adirondack (14-3), a 25-18, 25-23, 16-25, 23-25, 25-21 winner over fifth-seed Syracuse CBA (12-6), in one semifinal match-up. The other will feature second-seed Canastota (16-1) versus third-seed Lowville (16-1). Canastota downed seventh-seed Mount Markham (10-7) 25-19, 20-25, 25-13, 25-16 while Lowville stopped sixth-seed South Jefferson (12-7) 25-19, 25-19, 25-12.
“It’s always been about the girls in my mind,” Fox said of the milestone. “It’s never been about me, my records or my accomplishments. My job is to develop players, to put them in the right spot and to get them to work with each other.”
“It is awesome,” junior middle hitter Lauren Smith said of her coach’s milestone. “We didn’t even know about before the match. I’m really happy for him.”
“It’s great,” senior middle hitter Katie Sinclair added. “It shows all the work he has put into this program. I’m glad he got that tonight and we can start working towards 200 wins for him now.”
Homer never got more than a three point lead in the first set and looked a little out of sync. V-V-S (3-13) hung around and back-to-back aces by Rebecca Przybylski gave the Red Devils an 18-17 lead, prompting Fox to call his second timeout of the set. Przybylski’s next serve sailed long and Homer got the serve back tied at 18-18.
Freshman setter Emily Cottrell put the ball in play on her next six serves, the Trojans won five of six for points. Smith put the Trojans in front with one of her 12 kills and her defensive point-block to Homer in front 20-18. After a V-V-S timeout, the Red Devils made a miscue for the third straight Trojan point. Cottrell served up an ace and another mistake by the visitors capped the 5-0 run.
A trade of points got Homer to within one of clinching the first set at 24-20, but V-V-S fought back. Kelly Breckenridge served an ace as V-V-S pulled to within 24-22 and a well placed hit down the sideline by Kyra Wells narrowed the deficit to 24-23. Smith closed out the set with a solid kill and the Trojans were ready to roll.
“It took us a game to get into the zone,” Smith said. “We have been working hard on every single hit in practice. I think it is really coming together for sectionals.”
The second set was tight throughout the first half of the set. Leading 12-9, senior setter Taryn Heath served up an ace to spark a 5-0 Homer run. In fact, Heath had three aces during her rotation as the Trojans built the 17-9 cushion. A cross-court smash by junior right-side hitter Logan McEvoy gave Homer the serve with a 21-12 lead. A kill by Smith, two service aces by Cottrell and a final Red Devil mistake gave the Trojans the 25-12 victory and a two sets to none overall advantage.
Junior outside hitter Anni Wynn got the start for Thursday for senior Jessica Mitchell who was nursing a foot injury and unavailable. Wynn got the serve leading 9-8. A Smith kill and block jumped the Trojan advantage to 12-8 and forced V-V-S coach Scott Williams to burn a timeout. Wynn cooling served up back-to-back aces as the Trojan lead grew to 14-8.
The Red Devils got the score to 15-10, but it was all over. Sinclair tipped a net ball in front of the V-V-S wall to spark a final 10-0 run. Heath was the server in the clinching sequence. A second tip by Sinclair and a misplayed hit by V-V-S upped the Trojan lead to 18-10. After a kill by Sinclair, V-V-S took its final timeout. Heath served up another ace for the 20th Trojan point. Sinclair had a block, McEvoy pounded a ball through an attempted V-V-S block and a Red Devil missed hit got the Trojans to within two points of victory. Sinclair powered a shot through a V-V-S block and she delivered her 16th and final kill for the 25-10 triumph and the Trojans’ advance to the semifinal.
“When we get in a groove, we just want to pound the floor for the ball,” Sinclair said. “That helps us get momentum and it gets us into our game more. It is always a team effort. We wouldn’t get the kills if the defense doesn’t make the play first which leads to the sets that are just as important. Everyone on this team has been a part of our success.”
It was the kills by Sinclair (16), Smith (12), McEvoy (3) and Wynn (3) that powered the Trojan win. Many of those kills came off quick-sets by Heath (32 assists, 6 aces) that were the key to the victory.
“We’ve worked on moving our middle hitters around to keep the defense off balance,” Fox said. “It is tough to defend if you haven’t had a chance to scout us. You have to try an adjust to that on the fly, which is to our advantage.
“V-V-S came here as the underdog with nothing to lose,” he added. “They played hard. Scott has some great athletes and, when you have great athletes on the floor, anything can happen. They are scrappy and did play good defense. We had to put the ball away to get points.”
“I was very proud of our girls,” Williams said. “It really was a win-win for us. Homer is the number one seed and expected to win. We played hard and we did try to force a couple things at the end of the first game that probably hurt us. The girls showed a lot of heart.
“We have not seen any team be consistent with the quick-set, quick-hit all season long,” he continued. “Maybe I did not prepare the girls as much for it and we did make some adjustments. We got a couple of blocks, but we just weren’t quick enough. Homer put 90 to 95 percent of those hits in. Their height was also a problem. They are tall and they are a very good team.”
Wynn finished with four digs and three kills in the match. Junior libero Lainee Reed contributed eight digs and two aces while Cottrell finished with four aces on the night.
Przybylski had three assists and two aces for V-V-S . Naomi Walts added two kills while Tamara Beal had nine digs and Erin Confer provided four digs.
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