Without question, the Cazenovia girls volleyball team paid attention when long-time nemesis Marcellus got taken out by Skaneateles in a three-game sweep on Dec. 12.
So when the Lakers got its own shot at Marcellus last Tuesday night, it withstood a furious comeback attempt, then finished strong to prevail in five games right on the Mustangs' home floor and improve to 5-1 on the season.
By far, the biggest difference in the Mustangs this season is the absence of Lauren Fletcher, who dominated front-line play for three years before graduating last spring. No one on the Marcellus roster has been able to succeed her yet.
The match fell into three parts -- an early phase where Cazenovia threatened to run away, a second part where Marcellus rallied, and a final chapter that belonged to the Lakers.
With dispatch and ease, Cazenovia tore through the Mustangs in the first two games, winning by margins of 25-12 and 25-13, something it had rarely done to Marcellus in past matches, regardless of the outcome.
Somehow, the Mustangs shook this off, beat Cazenovia 25-15 in the third game, then survived match-point attempts to squeak out a 27-25 win in the fourth game.
But just when Marcellus fans thought a miracle was at hand, Cazenovia played at a high level throughout the fifth game, pulling away to win 25-10 and seal the match.
On the front line, Julie Gregg finished with 12 kills, with Leah McAleer adding 10 kills. Lizzy Reed (five kills) and Lindsey Nourse (three kills, three blocks) also made solid contributions.
Meanwhile, on the back line, Alissa Easterly strung together 24 assists, adding five aces and four kills, while Megan Robinson had nine assists and Hannah Koennecke earned three assists.
Marcellus, in defeat, got 25 assists from Samantha Vulcano. Jenna Sniffen (nine kills), Kim Duck (eight kills, five blocks), Kassie Phillips (seven blocks) and Becca Eddy (five kills) all were part of a front line that still misses Fletcher's power.