February 13, 2014
Defending champ Cincy falls to Remsen in semis
ONEIDA — Their faces told the story.
Twice just one point away from winning Wednesday’s Section 3 Class D semifinal match with fourth-seeded Remsen in the fourth set, the No. 1 Cincinnatus Central volleyball team had seen the Rams rally and ultimately tie the match with a hard-fought 27-25 victory.
As the teams came back onto the court for the fifth and deciding set, the two-time defending champion Red Lions players looked glum and a bit stunned while the Rams were loose and ready to go. Cincy scored the first point on a bad Remsen serve, but the Rams scored the next three to take the lead for good.
A nine-point run that upped the margin to 21-9 made for a foregone conclusion in what ended up a 25-23, 20-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-11 Remsen win.
Coach Macy Cobb’s Red Lions had come into the match with an 18-match winning streak, including a 14-0 record this season in which they had been pushed to four games only twice. Strangely, that dominance helped pave the way for their downfall.
“The girls got tired,” Cobb said. “I think the biggest factor was that they had a lot of big hitters on the front line, which we hadn’t seen. We could block them hitting over the top, so they hit around us and our defense didn’t get low enough. We should have put them away in the fourth set and didn’t, and came out kind of tentatively in the fifth. We weren’t putting our passes where we needed to.
“I thought we’d put them away, that we had the mental toughness to pull it off. But it only takes one or two to decide that it’s not going to happen, and everyone else goes down with them. We came out a little rough at the start, but finally settled in and played our game in the second and third sets. Seeing things go our way got our spirits up, but then things started going Remsen’s way, including a couple of (net violation) calls against us, and our heads were down.”
“You can tell so much from body language,” Rams coach Greg Roos, his team now 16-5, said in discussing the start of the fifth game. “We won the fourth set and were confident, while Cincinnatus was in new territory. They folded up on themselves, and one mistake led to the next. It happens a lot in this sport.
“We have one big glitch, which is our end game. When a set is, say, tied 21-21, we’ve tended to get tentative. Actually we had played very, very tentatively the first three sets, and what we did with our timeout (down 24-22 in the fourth set) was to step back and lighten up the mood, “ added Roos. “A couple of our seniors, Megan Will and Makenna Cooley, stepped up and made plays, and gave us confidence. We’ve played well all year, and were ready to go five sets. Our senior leadership came through.”
After kills by junior setter Katie Roos and outside hitter Will tied th fourth set at 24-24, Cobb called a timeout before her team won the next point on a Remsen return that went into the net. A missed Cincy return and another kill by Will gave the Rams a 26-25 lead, and a return into the net by the Red Lions ended the set.
Will had eight of her 16 kills on the night in the fifth set, including the 500th of her career early in the set. The nine-point run gave Remsen a commanding lead, and with the score 23-11 middle hitter Cooley came up with two kills in a row to finish the match.
“We knew we had to come together as a team and make good passes,” Will said of the winners’ fourth-set comeback. “We won that and kept going. Our attitude was ‘This is our time, and we’ve got to go.’ When we’re loose, we play well. We played Cincinnatus in the semis two years ago, right here in Oneida, and came in knowing that we could get them and that, no matter the records, we were the better team.
“I had no clue about the 500th kill, but it definitely boosted our spirits. I knew they had good blockers, so had to adjust and go to the line with my returns.”
The first set saw each team have small runs of points going back and fourth, Cincy going up 23-22 late on a kill by senior middle hitter Kasey Price. Two long Red Lion returns and a kill by Remsen junior middle hitter Alycia Atwell-Chwazik then accounted for the next three points and gave the Rams the set.
The second set was tied 9-9 and 10-10 before Cincy scored six of the next seven points. Remsen rallied back to go up 20-19 before Red Lions senior middle hitter Sydney Burritt served for the last six points of the set, including a pair of aces to end it.
The third set was tightly contested as well, tied at points eight through 12 before an 8-2 run gave Cincy a 20-14 lead. Remsen came back to within two at 22-20 and 24-22 before a kill by Price closed it out.
Red Lions senior setter/outside hitter Mallory Cobb had six kills in the fourth set, the last one breaking a 22-22 tie before a block by Burritt and senior setter/outside hitter Danielle Wood on a Will attempt put Cincy one point away from winning the match. That set the stage for the Rams’ comeback and the fifth-set rout.
Remsen is the hometown of Erin Hamlin, who won the USA’s first-ever luge medal, a bronze, at the Olympics at Sochi, Russia on Tuesday. Signs at Wednesday’s match invoked her spirit.
“That was awesome,” Will said of Hamlin’s performance. “I think it motivated us a lot. It was an exciting day, and we picked up on it.”
“It’s been such an emotional time for everyone,” Roos said. I was talking to a parent and said that I felt like someone whose birthday is Dec. 26. “
Will finished with 16 kills, three aces, two blocks and eight digs for the winners, while Cooley had 17 kills, an ace two blocks and two digs, Atwell-Chwazik eight kills, an ace, three blocks and six digs and sophomore setter Hailey Murray 25 assists, two kills, an ace and 10 digs.
Mallory Cobb finished with 14 kills, 15 assists, nine digs and an ace for Cincy, which also got 12 kills, 11 digs, three blocks and an ace from Price and eight kills, 11 digs, five blocks and for aces from Burritt. In addition, senior setter/outside hitter Danielle Wood had 11 assists, six digs, an ace and a kill, freshman outside hitter Cheyenne Nowalk 11 digs and two aces and senior outside hitter Susie Waltz 10 digs and an ace.
In addition to the aforementioned seniors, Wednesday was also the last scholastic match for three more Red Lion upperclassmen — outside hitters Danielle Gower, Justine McGraw and Jodi Morgan.
Remsen will meet third-seeded Living Word Academy for the sectional Class D championship Saturday at Chittenango High starting at 1 p.m. Third-seeded LWA improved to 13-2 on the season with a 25-22, 25-22, 30-25, 29-25, 25-22 win over second-seeded Hamilton (15-3) in Wednesday’s second match at Oneida.
“We began the season with high hopes,” Macy Cobb said. “We wanted to be there Saturday in the finals, and believed we could be. Apparently it wasn’t meant to be.”
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