To repeat as Section III Class B champions, the Cazenovia girls volleyball team likely would have to go through the team it dethroned a year ago.
As the no. 3 seed in the eight-team Class B-1 bracket, the Lakers took care of no. 6 seed Solvay in three games in last Saturday's quarterfinal at Buckley Gym.
This meant that Cazenovia was careening toward another face-off with Marcellus, the no. 2 seed, who simply had to take care of no. 7 seed Altmar-Parish Williamstown to make this latest post-eason duel a possibility.
Solvay was supposed to be a tough opening playoff foe. The Bearcats, despite its 9-9 mark, had played all the top OHSL Liberty division teams (including Cazenovia and Marcellus) close and lost a series of five-game decisions.
Yet the Lakers needed barely more than an hour to sweep the Bearcats away. It broke open a close opening game with a closing 10-4 run to prevail, 25-18.
The second game proved tougher, as Cazenovia overcame a 13-8 deficit with eight unanswered points, all on Mackenzie Moore's serve.
Solvay made its own comeback, took a 19-17 lead, only to see the Lakers get another sustained run (6-0 this time) to build the foundation for a 25-21 win and a 2-0 lead in games.
A back-and-forth third game turned with a lethal series of serves by Julie Gregg, resulting in nine consecutive points and, eventually, a 25-19 win to close out the sweep.
Gregg finished with six kills and four aces. Abby Cordes had 10 assists and four kills, while Alissa Easterly added seven assists. Leah McAleer had four kills. Erica Lamanna (nine kills) and Cate Callisto (18 assists) led Solvay's effort.
For Cazenovia, the whole irony of dealing with Marcellus again was that, at the tail end of the regular season, the Lakers denied the Mustangs a perfect regular season.
In a match last Tuesday at Buckley Gym delayed 24 hours by winter snows, the Lakers fed off the emotion of Senior Night and swept Marcellus, prevailing 25-21 in each of the first two games and winning, 25-15, in the third game.
Cordes had 12 assists, to go with six kills. Easterly helped out with 11 assists. Up front, Kathy Groetz had a much bigger presence with 11 kills, as Gregg and Brittany Furlong gathered three kills apiece. In defeat, Mustang star Lauren Fletcher had 12 kills and four blocks.