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February 15, 2016

Cincy falls in five-set final

vballBob Ellis/staff photographer
Cheyenne Nowalk, 21, of Cincinnatus attacks the net against Hailey Murray of Remsen in the Section 3 Class D title match Saturday in Chittenango.

By TANEY BEAUMONT
Staff Writer

CHITTENANGO — It didn’t end the way she or her team would have liked, but Macy Cobb was still upbeat about what her Cincinnatus Central volleyball team accomplished in her 28th and final season as varsity coach.
“The season has been such a good one, even though we are feeling a bit down just now,” Cobb said shortly after her third-seeded squad had lost to No. 1 Remsen 25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-15 in the Section 3 Class D championship match at Chittenango High to finish at 12-7. “Despite our fair share of injury and illness we found ourselves with a 3-seed, and even with a tough road through the brackets we made it to the finals.
“Of course I am disappointed, as are the girls. They did not play to their potential, nowhere near how they played against Manlius-Pebble Hill or Stockbridge Valley in the past two sectional matches,” she added. “There wasn’t much I could say to make them feel much better. I just tried to refocus them on the positive points of the season and remind them that they just played a five-set match in the finals.”
The Red Lions accomplished that against a Remsen team that has now won three straight sectional D crowns, beating Cincy in the semis both years — in three sets last year and five sets two years ago.
“These are two evenly-matched teams,” said Rams coach Greg Roos, whose squad finished the season at 17-3. “I think the first four sets were very emotional for both teams. We were able to get up for the last one while Cincinnatus had a very tough time emotionally. And as soon as you get down, it’s hard.
“I think our post-season experience helped us. We have a number of girls who have been here before and so were able to keep their emotions in check.”
That was not the case with the Red Lions, according to Cobb.
“Right from the start today, the girls were nervous and didn’t shake it off as well as they did on Wednesday,” she said, referring to her team’s first-set loss to Stockbridge Valley in a four-set semifinal victory. “Passes were not accurate and sets were not to our hitters. Even when we got big plays, and when we had the momentum going into the fifth set, the girls were not themselves. There were too many times when individuals were dwelling on mistakes rather than working together to pick up and shake things off. As a whole, we didn’t cover the court as we typically do.
“I think we were tense. Remsen definitely benefited from the championship experiences of the past two years. They were playing well and staying loose, a definite contrast to the Cincy girls, who wouldn’t even crack a smile in the team huddles. I don’t think any of the nerves stemmed from the previous years’ matches with Remsen. I just think that when we didn’t pass and get our offense going, we didn’t build the confidence like we did in previous matches.”
THE FIRST SET WAS a good example of that, as Remsen went from a 6-5 deficit to taking the lead for good with five straight points, four of them on Cincy errors. The set ended on two straight kills by Remsen senior Alicia Paige.
The second set was another back-and-forth affair, the Red Lions up 15-8 before Remsen scored eight straight points, including two on kills by junior Julia Roos, the coach’s daughter, and three on Cincy errors.
The lead switched hands twice more, and the Rams were up 23-22 before a long serve knotted the score. A kill by Red Lions junior outside hitter Cheyenne Nowalk and a long return by Remsen enabled Cobb’s squad to even things at one set each.
The third set was tied twice, though the Red Lions never led. It looked like the Rams were in charge after scoring six straight points to take a 17-8 lead, and they had leads of 23-15 and 24-19 before Cincy pulled to within one on a kill by junior outside hitter Remington Blasdell. A Red Lions serving error then ended the set. Remsen also led for most of the fourth set and was up 21-20 before making four straight errors as Cincy went up 24-21. After a wide return by the Red Lions made it 24-22, sophomore Devan Burritt’s kill grazed the top of the net and went over for the winning point.
Remsen scored 10 of the first 12 points in the fifth and deciding set, four on Cincy errors and two on kills by Julia Roos, and the Red Lions got no closer than six points down the rest of the way. A final errant return by Cincy ended the match and set off a celebration by the Rams.
“Greg and I have gotten to know each other through our matches over the past few years,” Cobb said. “I have a lot of respect for what he has done to build the program at Remsen, and it’s always fun to meet his team in competition. It was especially fitting that we should meet for this finals match.”
JULIA ROOS WAS THE standout player in the match, finishing with 17 kills, nine digs, three aces, an assist and a block. “I definitely had one of my best matches,” she said with a smile. “But I wouldn’t have been able to do it without our passing, serving and setting. There’s not one shining star; we’re a team. That’s been our mantra all season. I’m so lucky to have my dad as my coach. Some people wouldn’t think so, but it’s like I have 12 sisters and he’s the father for everyone.”
Remsen also got 37 assists, eight kills six digs and an ace from senior Hailey Murray while junior Alexis Perkett had eight kills, eight digs, an ace and an assist, junior Madison Cyr 12 digs, four aces two kills and an assist and junior Elisha Hamilton six kills, six digs, four aces and two assists.
Blasdell had eight kills, four digs and an ace for Cincy while senior middle hitter Kaitlin Manley had seven kills, four blocks, two aces and a dig and sophomore setter Emily Price 15 digs, 11 assists and two kills. In addition, Burritt had six kills, six assists, four digs, three blocks and an ace and Nowalk 13 digs, five aces and two kills.
Asked her thoughts on a coaching career that included consecutive sectional Class D championships in 2013 an 2014, Cobb noted that “I’m not sure what to say... there have been so many ladies in the program and so many talented teams. Of course, the back-to-back sectional titles were extra special. We had a lot of good teams over the years but never quite made it to the top until then.”

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