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December 17, 2010

 

Homer sweeps past Cortland in trio of 25-18 games

VolleyballBob Ellis/Associated Press
Taryn Heath (11), of Homer, tries tapping the ball past Zakarra Butts of Cortland Thursday night during the Trojans’ three-set victory.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

It had been nearly a week since Homer Central stepped on the volleyball court in a game situation. A win over Chittenango Dec. 10 was a distant memory and two weather-related postponements had the Trojans itching for action.
Conversely, Cortland High had three matches under its belt and sported a 2-1 OHSL Freedom Division and overall record heading into the road trip to the Trojans’ gymnasium.
Homer looked sharper, though there were some great long volleys, as the Trojans took out the brooms for the sweep by the identical 25-18 counts in all three games.
Alysha Camp led the Trojans with 13 kills and seven digs. The Homer senior outside hitter was pleased with the win and the 2-0 start for her team.
“It was a good night,” Camp said. “We really stepped up and pulled together as a team. We showed ourselves we can be right there with anybody and are somebody to compete with.
“Our defense was immaculate,” she continued. “Offensively, when the passes and sets are there, you have holes to hit to. That’s what we did well tonight. We placed our hits well.”
Homer head coach Brian Fox agreed.
“For some teams, the back-and-forth of long breaks between matches might be a problem,” Fox stated. “We practice as hard as we can during the week and we don’t have the lapse. We had seen Cortland in our tournament so we knew what to expect. That said, they (Cortland) have gotten better each match. We weren’t sure what to expect after they were coming off a surprising loss to Chittenango.
“Alysha, Lauren Smith and Katie Sinclair all had good games up front,” he added. “They couldn’t stop them. We like that balanced team play so that an opponent can’t say we’ll double-block this person or we’ll key on that person. We like having options, that’s what makes us tough. Someone was always stepping up tonight. We found the spots on the court.”
Smith had 11 kills and five blocks while Sinclair had seven kills and two blocks. Taryn Heath added 34 assists with Katie Camp recording 11 digs and two aces, Katelyn Buchanan four kills and four aces and Lainee Reed chipped in with four digs.
“Taryn is a great leader,”Fox said. “She runs our offense. She made good choices tonight.”
“Both teams really picked the ball up well defensively,” he continued. “That led to some great volleys and there were some very nice plays from both teams. I think the difference was we controlled the pace of the match better and made Cortland play our game.”
Camp also stated the layoff between matches really as not hurt the Trojans.
“We have really stayed sharp because of our practices,” she said. “Games are good for experience. I believe we are much farther along skill wise than last year because of all the practice.
“We are also strong because we are a team, a family,” Camp added. “We don’t have a star player or two that have to have the kills or blocks. We work well together as a team. That’s what got us a league title last year and that is what is going to make us stronger this year. We play for each other. We play as a team.”
In the opening game, Homer bolted to a 5-1 lead, but Cortland hung tough to tie the set at 10-10. The Trojans went on a nice run that was keyed by a Smith strong hit.
Buchanan took the serve with a 15-12 lead and it was 19-13 when she lost the serve after a nice tipped ball by Kelsey Wetherell over the Trojan front line.
Homer maintained the cushion through the remainder of the set for the win.
In game two, Homer jumped out to the 2-0 lead, but Cortland got the ball back and Kaylee Gebhardt went to work trailing 1-2. Back-to-back aces gave the Purple Tigers a 3-2 lead, there first of the night. A strong hit by Maddie Dorward, another ace from Gebhardt and a point-block by Zakarra Butts pushed the advantage to 6-2.
After a timeout, Homer got the serve back trailing 3-6. Buchanan stepped to the service line and two Cortland mistakes got the momentum back in the home team’s favor. Buchanan them served up consecutive aces to put Homer on top 7-6. The Trojans won seven of the next eight points for a 14-7 lead. Homer maintained the seven-point cushion for the most part and notched a second 25-18 set win.
The decisive third game was most entertaining with four lead changes and seven ties. The final tie came at 10-10 after Cortland led most of the early portion of this set. Homer took the lead for good at 11-10 and built the advantage to 13-10 before a Butts block gave the serve back to the Purple Tigers at 13-11. Homer continued to pull away slowly, but Cortland kept close until a pair of well-place balls by Smith allowed the Trojans to enjoy a 23-16 cushion. Match point was provided by Buchanan with an ace.
Gebhardt finished the night with 13 digs, four aces and three kills. Amanda Shelley added 13 digs, two assists and two aces. Butts had nine assist and three blocks while Jenna Gregory (eight digs), Kelly Knauerhase (six kills) and Maddie Dorward (three kills) also contributed.
Despite the scores, Cortland was in the match, but just could not find the right thing to keep the momentum on their side.
“We need to find a way to keep the lead,” Cortland coach Cheri Olson said. “It’s not that we don’t have the skills to play, we, at least tonight, had moments of brilliance, but we did not have the complete package.
“We didn’t get the ball to the hitters enough,” she continued. “We did not adjust well enough to what Homer was doing They had some middle hits and one good outside hitter and we did not adjust to that. We just need to pick it up and play to win.”
Both Cortland and Homer will see plenty of action Saturday at the Freedom Tournament hosted by Chittenango High School starting at 11 a.m. The varsity teams will play at the high school. The JV teams will compete at the middle school.
HOMER JVS opened the night with a win over Cortland. The Trojans took the first two games to complete the sweep 25-9 and 25-15. The Purple Tiger JVs claimed the non-factor third game 25-23.
“Homer/Cortland is always a big match,” Trojan coach Jeremy Cook said. “I was really impressed with how we played tough, and really stuck to the game plan that we had established during practice this week.”
“The overall serving errors lead to the Tigers loss in the first game,” Cortland coach Lara Almansberger. “The girls struggled to keep the ball in play. The second and third games, our serving and passing increased to lead us to the win in the third game.”
Sarah Yonta Yonta led Homer with eight assists. Jessica Walter added four kills and four aces, Emily Cottrell five digs and one kill, plus Logan McEvoy one block.
Sam Travis paced Cortland with five aces and three assists. Also, Marissa Rabusin had three digs, Quinn Doubet three assists, Chelsea Vallilee two kills and Megan Howard two kills and one dig.

 

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