February 17, 2011
Trojans take final step
Whitesboro falls in Class A semifinals
DeWITT — The higher up in the playoff ladder you go, the tougher the matches become.
Homer Central certainly found that out at Jamesville-DeWitt High School during the Section 3 Class A volleyball semifinals on Wednesday night.
The top-seeded Trojans had to adjust the high intensity before posting a 25-14, 21-25, 25-21, 25-17 triumph over fourth-seed Whitesboro to advance to Saturday’s 7 p.m. championship match back at J-D. The Trojans (19-1 overall) will meet fellow OHSL Freedom Division opponent and seventh seed Fulton for the title — the Red Raiders the same team that knocked the Trojans out in the semifinal round one year ago.
The Red Raiders (11-8) upset fifth-seed Oneida 25-22, 25-17, 19-25, 25-12 in the earlier semifinal match at this same sight. Homer won both Freedom Division encounters with Fulton this season in four sets. Fulton won a tough four-set match in last year’s semifinals.
This will be the first Section 3 volleyball championship appearance for the Homer spikers.
“I’m so excited. I can’t wait,” junior setter Taryn Heath said of the Trojans trip to the finals. “We just have to keep playing our game and doing what we do. When we get tight, that’s when we make mistakes, but as long as we stay positive, things usually work out for us.
“It’s an advantage to play Fulton again,” she added. “We know what they bring and they know us, too. I wanted to play them because they were the team that beat us last year.”
“I think we just like a challenge,” chuckled senior outside hitter Alysha Camp. “Sometimes we get ourselves in too deep. We got ourselves into a couple of holes and we got ourselves out of some holes. We did what we had to do, not as gracefully as we could have done it, but we did win.
“We definitely wanted to play Fulton,” she continued. “We know what to expect from them. We only knew what we had heard about Oneida, so we are definitely psyched to play Fulton.”
THE COACHES ON both sides knew this match was going to be a dogfight.
“I think we got complacent after winning that first game fairly easily,” Homer coach Brian Fox said of that 25-14 opening set success. “The girls thought it was going to be easy. Whitesboro did some nice things to adjust to us and we played lazy. When we play lazy we don’t run our offense and our defense was shaky tonight.
“We started playing better after losing the second game,” he added. “We decided that we needed to pick it up. We made that nice run at the end of the fourth game to clinch it.”
“We not use to seeing this quicker style of play,” Whitesboro co-coach Sally Pardee said. “Homer is very quick in the center. When we were able to run our offense, we showed we could play with them. We simply got frustrated at times
Homer was in control most of the opening set even though Whitesboro (14-4) took an early 1-0 lead. A block by Lauren Smith tied the match and the sophomore middle hitter followed with a solid hit to put the Trojans in the lead for good.
Combining deep drives and dinks over the forward wall kept the Warriors moving around the court. The Trojans played their style and pulled away. Heath served up the final four points, including an ace, to seal the first set.
Whitesboro again jumped to a lead at the start of the second set. A net violation by the Trojans and a kill by junior Morgan Eberley put the Warriors on top 2-0. The Trojans came back on three occasions to tie the set, the last time at 9-9, by Whitesboro would retake control by a big hit. Sophomore Brandi Blaszak broke the final tie with a deep winner inside the end line and Eberley delivered her own winner for an 11-9 advantage. Three Trojan mistakes led to Fox calling a time-out with his team trailing 9-14. Homer got the serve back and narrowed the deficit to 13-14, but Eberley send a passing shot down the line to keep Whitesboro in control. Homer never got closer than two points the rest of the set and two Homer mistakes sealed the second set in Whitesboro’s favor.
“WE WERE ABLE to run our offense in the second game,” Whitesboro coach Jenn Dodge said. “We have a very young team that has never been to sectionals before. The jitters got the best of us in the beginning.
“It’s hard to prepare for a team you know nothing about,” Pardee added. “We were going in kind of blind. Homer scouted us Monday night and that was an advantage for them.”
The third set became the pivotal set of the night. Homer took an early 6-3 lead as Heath served up another winner that wasn’t returned. Whitesboro fought back and when Warrior senior Ashley Levatino served up her ace putting her team was on top 12-9.
Two more lead changes saw Whitesboro clinging to a one-point lead before Trojan junior middle hitter Katie Sinclair dinked a ball over the Warrior blockers to knot the score at 19-19. Senior outside hitter Katelyn Buchanan delivered a deep winner to put the Trojans in front for good at 20-19. Smith would deliver the set-winner with a drive that Whitesboro failed to return to give Homer the 25-21 set win.
“The turning point in third game was we put the ball back in our setter’s hands,” Fox said. “We put the ball in play for our middle players. We moved them around the court mixing up long hits and short hits or tips.”
For the third time in the four sets, Whitesboro took an early lead with some well-placed hit. The biggest Warrior lead was 6-3 after Blaszak floated a winner inside the end line.
The Trojans refused to quit. Buchanan’s winner near the net cut the Warrior lead to 7-6 and Sinclair served an ace to tie the set at 7-7. Another strong Buchanan hit forced a Warrior player to double-hit the ball. The violation gave Homer an 8-7 lead and the top seed with never trail again.
WHITESBORO REMAINED within three points until Heath got the serve for Homer with a 16-13 lead. Heath put the ball in ball and her teammates went on the attack. Back-to-back winners by Alysha Camp got the key run underway. Smith delivered a deep kill to the back line and Brown followed with a cross-court winner for a 20-13 Trojan advantage. The Trojans were in control and Sinclair punched the ticket to the finals with a tipped ball over the Warrior blockers for the final point.
“We served tough in the fourth game,” Fox said. “We gave them too many easy balls to play in the first three games. Whitesboro is a decent team when they do that. We began converting free balls into good offensive chances.”
“That second game showed us that Whitesboro could take it (the match) from us,” Heath said. “We didn’t want that to happen. We wanted to keep our season going. It was important to come back and win the third and fourth games.”
Heath finished the match with 26 assists and two digs. Katie Camp added 19 digs and two aces for the Trojan attack. Sinclair had 12 kills, Alysha Camp eight kills, eight digs and two aces, Smith had seven kills and three blocks, Buchanan added five digs and four kills while Lainee Reed recorded three digs.
Carly Lonczak paced the Warriors with 27 assists and two aces. Eberley provided 17 digs, 11 kills and one ace; Blaszak had 10 kills, Ashley Levatino 10 digs; Samantha Ciotti added five kills and Ally Kolupa delivered three kills and one assist.
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