Feb 19, 2008 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
This was why Marcia Laidlaw returned to coach the Canastota girls volleyball team — namely, to compete for a championship.
The Raiders’ chance to claim that crown again came Saturday, in the Class B-2 finals against defending champion Mount Markham at Jamesville-DeWitt High School.
And it got just about as close as anyone could to winning without actually doing so.
It took a frantic rally by the Mustangs in the fifth and final game to prevail in a first-rate contest where neither side deserved defeat — but Mount Markham moved on to meet Marcellus for the overall Class B crown Wednesday night, also at J-D.
They had met twice in a span of eight days late in the regular season. On Jan. 10, the Raiders went to Mount Markham and won in four games, only to have the Mustangs get payback with a five-game decision on Jan. 18, Canastota’s only loss of the regular season.
Now, with a championship on the line, the Raiders and Mustangs would wage another long and exciting contest.
In the first game, Canastota led through much of the early stages, as much as 20-17, before Mount Markham caught up and turned it into an exchange. At 23-23, the Mustangs broke the tie then used a kill by its star hitter, Jeana Farruggia, to pull out the game 25-23.
With the second game just as close, Canastota broke an 18-18 tie and, with Larissa Kutuzba putting away a series of great serves, earned the last seven points to win, 25-18, and square the match at one game each.
When the Raiders roared to a 12-4 lead in the third game, it looked to be taking control. But then it fell apart, a long series of mistakes that allowed Mount Markham to outscore Canastota 21-6 the rest of the way and take that game, 25-18.
Now it was the Raiders’ turn to rally, as it erased a 16-10 deficit in the fourth game. Three points from defeat, Canastota forged a 22-22 tie but then saw its talented freshman setter, Jessica Patterelli, go to the sidelines with a left knee injury.
Rallying around each other, the Raiders pulled out the last three points of that game to win, 25-22, and send the contest to a fifth game, where it hung close as Patterelli had her knee put into a brace and taped.
Patterelli returned with the Raiders down, 10-8. It soon took the lead and, at 20-17, seemed to be close to the championship.
But then Mount Markham got the serve back and, with Tracey Lynk delivering seven straight bullets over the net, Canastota would not score again as Mount Markham prevailed, 25-20.
Despite the injury, Patterelli still finished with 33 assists, to go with eight kills and three aces. Denae Rinaldo and Courtney Kahler each had six kills, with Sarah Willis adding five kills and five assists. Jessica DeNova (three kills) and Julie Willis (three assists, two kills) made solid contributions, too, and libero Chelsea Backus was superb all afternoon in her defensive role.
As for Mount Markham, Farruggia finished with 29 kills, as Clarissa Gray added seven kills. Lynk (18 assists) and Kaitlin Phalen (19 assists) shared the back-line duties.
To reach the final, Canastota first had to climb past no. 4 seed Christian Brothers Academy in last Tuesday’s B-2 semifinal. With grit and determination, the Raiders got past the Brothers in four games.
Throughout the first two games, Canastota put together runs of points that allowed it to take charge, beating CBA 25-18 and 25-17 in those contests.
And the Raiders came within an eyelash of a sweep before the Brothers pulled out the third game 27-25. Miffed at that development, CBA roared through the fourth game 25-11 to earn its trip to the finals.
Patterelli could not be contained. She had 28 assists, 25 digs and 10 kills, contributing in every possible way to pick up her teammates.
Kahler also had 10 kills, adding 20 digs. Ashley Rounds had eight kills and three blocks, while Rinaldo earned six kills and Elaine Peters gained four kills and 10 digs. Sarah Willis had six assists, three kills and 19 digs.
CBA had Angela Spicciati pick up 30 assists, while Natalie Rogers-Bell led the front line with 16 kills and four blocks and Kellie Scullin added eight kills.
Due to weather issues, Canastota had to wait two days to see which team it would meet in the B-2 final. And it got an even bigger advantage when Mount Markham had to go to five games to win a back-and-forth battle with no. 3 seed Adirondack.
With more rest, the Raiders figured to be the fresher team, at least when compared to Mount Markham — but as it turned out, the extra rest would not matter much.
So the Raiders finished 21-2, a first-rate revival under Laidlaw that should continue even though Kahler, Rounds and Peters depart. The presence of Patterelli, Rinaldo (just a sophomore this year), Kutuzba and both Willis sisters will keep Canastota in the title hunt.