February 15, 2012
Sweep Adirondack to reach Class B finals —
Trojans closing in on another title
DeWITT — It wasn’t a crisp Homer Central squad on the volleyball court Tuesday night, but it was a team that did enough of the right things to secure a win and advance.
The top-seeded Trojans will contend for their second straight Section 3 tournament crown after a 25-20, 25-15, 25-21 Class B semifinal round win over fourth-seed Adirondack at Jamesville-DeWitt High School.
Defending Class A champion Homer (19-1) will face second-seed Canastota (17-1), a 25-12, 25-18, 25-23 winner over third-seed Lowville in the other semifinal, for the Class B title at 7 p.m. back at J-D Saturday night.
The Homer-Adirondack match was delayed about 35 minutes after one of the Living Word Academy players passed out during the post-game handshakes and required emergency attention, including a trip to a local hospital. She was responsive and feeling a bit better as she was wheeled out of the gymnasium on a stretcher.
That may explain why both sides had trouble getting started, but Homer enjoyed a early 7-4 lead in the first set after an ace served up by senior Katie Sinclair. Still, Homer wasn’t looking sharp.
“The delay really wasn’t a bad thing,” Homer coach Brian Fox said. “It actually helped relax us to some degree. It was more like there are more important things in life than volleyball. It helped us focus a little bit and gave a chance to reflect on the more important things.”
Junior outside hitter Anni Wynn agreed.
“I think it was a good thing to wait a little longer,” Wynn said. “It gave us a chance to get more comfortable being in here, more comfortable being around each other and getting the feel for this gym.”
Wynn has become a starter in the playoffs since senior Jessica Mitchell’s foot injury and has responded. She had three kills, two digs and two aces during the night and has filled her role well.
“There’s a ton more pressure than I ever thought there would be,” Wynn said of her sudden thrust into the starting line-up. “It’s an interesting position that I’ve been put in. I am being pushed a lot, but I think I can do well in it.”
ADIRONDACK GOT THE serve back trailing 7-5 after a Trojan long hit went out of bound and put together a nice run that put the Wildcats on top 13-7 with senior Kaylee Gydesen serving. The streak ended with her serving a ball into the net. Gydesen served up three aces during the run and Kyle Kaiding delivered a nice deep corner hit, but the Trojans also misplayed four balls and had a fifth mistake during that run before getting the serve back for Cottrell.
Down 8-13, Cottrell put 11 of 12 serves in play as her team rallied for a 19-13 advantage before she served a ball long. Cottrell recorded three aces in the run, two coming back-to-back with the game tied at 13-13 to put Homer in front for good. Wynn added a couple of nice deep hits as did junior middle hitter Lauren Smith.
“We were having trouble and we weren’t real enthusiastic at the beginning of the match,” Cottrell said. “I’m been serving a lot better in practice lately. I just had to serve tough and hope that everyone would start coming together.
“I get nervous sometimes,” she added. “I’m not always sure it is going to be in because I serve the ball deep a lot.”
Emily stepped up huge tonight,” Fox said. “It was one of those things where we weren’t really into a flow yet and I’m not sure we ever got that tonight. We weren’t as sharp with our offense and Emily really came through. She has been serving well in practice and that carried over for her tonight.
“It’s the same with Anni,” he added. “We’ve asked her to have an increased role with Jessica (Mitchell) out. She has come in and done a very nice job. We don’t expect big numbers in the stat column, but she gives us what we need and, in this team concept, it works out well.”
Another player who became an offense weapon was senior Taryn Heath and it wasn’t just because of her 15 assists during the night. Heath showed a jump set that allowed her to take chances at scoring points with well-placed hits and redirects of her own. She scored points for 18-13 and 22-16 advantages for the Trojans in that first set.
“IT’S SOMETHING WE’VE been working on with Taryn in practice,” Fox said. “We wanted her to use it tonight because we knew it would make Adirondack have to respect her as more than just a setter. It worked well for us.”
Sinclair put the first set away with a strong hit and Homer won by a 25-20 count.
The second set saw the Trojans slowly take a 7-6 lead when Elizabeth Riegler was whistled for being in the net. The serve came to Cottrell and she responded with six points off seven balls put in play. Cottrell had another ace during the run, Heath provided a tip for another point and Smith added another deep hit during the run that ended with a 13-7 Trojan advantage.
Homer got the serve back with a 14-8 lead and Wynn went to town with a couple of aces that helped push the advantage to 18-8 before the Wildcats got the serve back.
With a 24-15 lead, Heath used the jump-set with another nice redirected ball to close out the second set.
The final set was close the entire way. Wynn was again a focal point when her team needed her late. Her strong hit off an Adirondack blocker got the Trojans the serve at 21-19. Wynn then served up an ace for a 22-19 lead, but nerves seemed to haunt both teams as the two teams traded mistakes until the end. With a 23-21 lead, Junior libero Lainee Reed put two balls in play and Adirondack knocked the ball out of bounds during both return tries to seal the 25-21 Trojan win and advancement to the Class B final.
The learning experience for Wynn and Cottrell are paying dividends when it counts the most. Cottrell finished the match with seven digs and six aces.
“I learned more this year than any other year I played,” Wynn said. “I really think this has been a good experience.”
“It is really exciting,” Cottrell added. “I was a little nervous coming up because I would be playing with higher level players. I was making the change of being with the varsity instead of the JVs, but it’s been like one big family. They all invited me in and it’s been great.”
Other Trojans in the stat column were Reed (11 digs), Smith (5 kills), Sinclair (3 kills, 3 blocks) and Jessica Walter (5 kills, 2 digs).
Adirondack was led by Katarina Candee with nine kills and three digs. Helping out were Brooklyn Lee (10 digs, 2 aces), Nicole Latvis (8 assists), Riegler (6 kills) and Kaiding (6 digs, 3 aces, 2 kills).
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