December 15, 2009
Trojans sweep up at CHS
The two coaches’ thoughts on the difference in Monday night’s 25-22, 25-22, 25-15 win by the Homer Central volleyball team over host Cortland High were, well, different.
“I just think it was us taking advantage of what they were giving us,” said Trojans coach Brian Fox, his team now 2-0 in the OHSL Freedom Division and 3-1 overall. “We didn’t do that in the first game and most of the second, but were able to at the end of the second game and all of the third.
“The key for us all season as to whether we win or lose is going to be defense. We focus on that a lot in practice. We have some very, very good players, but if we want to make up for what we lost from last year we’ll have to do it defensively,” he added, standouts and current SUNY Cortland freshmen Katie Wick and McKenna Riley among those key losses.
“Confidence was the biggest difference,” Cortland coach Cheri Olson said after her team lost for the third time in as many league matches and fell to 2-3 overall. “Homer has it, and we’re still learning how to play with it. We didn’t start winning last season until the end. This year we started out well, but we still have a couple more steps to go. We have the skills; we have to play to win.
“I think when we started getting ahead (in the first game) we sat back,” she added. “We have to get used to picking it up at the end of games rather than letting down. We usually start well, then falter throughout the match. Usually our defense keeps us in it, but tonight we struggled a bit with that. We worked hard on offense, but without defense it makes it hard to get some sets. I thought that, after losing the first two games, we were fully capable of winning the next three. We played well against Jordan-Elbridge (in a season-opening win) and Fulton (in a narrow loss to the defending league champion). If we’d played with the same intensity in this match we could have had it.”
Cortland led for most of the first game, but never by more than four. The game was tied at 13-, 14, 15-, 17-, 18-, 19- and 20-all, and the visitors then took control with three straight points, going up 23-20 before Cortland scored two in a row, then closing out the match as Homer senior middle back Rachel Perry tipped the game-winner over the net and to the floor.
It was Homer’s turn to control a close one in the second game, Cortland able to rally for leads of 8-7 and 9-8 before the Trojans scored four straight, including two kills by senior outside hitter Ashley Cavellier, to regain control. The Purple Tigers went on a 7-1 run, keyed by the serving of senior middle back and co-captain Lisa Dovi and junior right side Kelsey Wetherell, to turn a 16-11 deficit into an 18-17 lead, but Homer then scored five in a row, four off the serving of Deanne Stafford, and never trailed again, junior right side Alysha Camp with the game-ending kill.
HOMER NEVER TRAILED in the third game, taking control with five straight points to expand on what had been a 9-6 lead. Sophomore setter Taryn Smith keyed the run with three kills and a block, and the visitors never looked back from there.
“I’ve told the girls that we can’t let teams hang with us,” Fox said. “Momentum is the biggest thing. We’d gotten the momentum after the first two games, and I told them going into the third that we had to come out and play hard, play our style of game and let the chips fall where they may.”
Cortland was coming off a hard-fought five set loss at Chittenango Friday. “I like to come into each match fresh, but I don’t know what the girls talked about,” Olson said. “I wouldn’t doubt if Friday’s match was a factor tonight, but I couldn’t tell. Usually after a match we’ll sit and talk about it before the next practice, but we hadn’t had a chance to do that. Now we’ll have a double dose (today).”
Perry had 10 kills, four blocks and an ace for Homer, while Cavellier had seven kills, three blocks, three digs and two aces, Heath 16 assists, two digs and a kill, sophomore middle back Katie Sinclair five kills and five blocks, Alysha Camp five kills, 11 digs and two aces and junior libero Katie Camp (Alysha’s sister) eight digs while earning praise from Fox for the job she did running the defense.
“I always try to stay aggressive, keep swinging, and keep everyone up,” Perry said. “If someone makes a mistake, I try not to let them get down. Our defense is the key to our success; we definitely played a lot better defense in the second and third games, not letting anything hit the floor. Beating Cortland definitely puts a little chip on our shoulder and boosts our confidence, but we have to stay strong for the rest of our matches.”
“Homer-Cortland is always a good match; no one wants to lose in the rivalry,” Fox said. “This was a good match for us.”
DOVI HAD SIX kills, three aces and two blocks for Cortland, while senior setter and co-captain Sarah Curtis two kills, 12 assists and 11 digs, senior outside hitter Josie Roberts six kills, five digs and an assist, junior middle back Kelly Knauerhase six kills and a block, junior libero Amanda Shelley 10 digs and Wetherell nine digs.
“It was a rough night,” Olson said. “Usually our dig total is much higher (than Monday’s 44); Chittenango hits shoots and free balls, and uses a slower pace, so we had to switch gears. I hope we can bounce back; this league is so tough. The teams are so evenly-matched that any match can go either way. You have to come ready to play in order to win; I think it’s the toughest winter league in Section 3.”
CORTLAND JVs defeated Homer 25-18, 25-27, 26-24 for their first win in four matches this season. “It was a team win, with a contribution from every player,” Cortland coach Lara Almansberger said. “Megan Howard and Maddie Dorward played amazing defense, and Alexis Kryger helped us win with tremendous serving.” Homer (0-4) was led by Alyssa Morgan, Jessica Mitchell and Sara Yonta.
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