Remaining unbeaten in any sport is not easy, for the longer it goes, the more an opponent wants to knock them off, adding to the intensity and pressure.
The Canastota girls volleyball team is aware of this, and got a great challenge from 10-1 Mount Markham last Thursday night before beating the Mustangs in four games to move its mark to 12-0.
This match, the makeup of a Dec. 12 contest postponed by winter snows, proved to be one of the closest calls of the season, because Mount Markham had every intention of putting Canastota away in the early going.
Mount Markham beat Canastota 25-19 in the opening game and put even more heat on the Raiders by claiming a 6-0 lead to start the second game.
Enter Elaine Peters. After the Raiders got on the board, Peters got five consecutive points off her serve, and then inched in front during a tense exchange that lasted the rest of the second game. By a 25-22 margin, Canastota got even in games, 1-1.
That back-and-forth tangent continued into the third game, but it had the exact same ending as Canastota prevailed 25-22 to take a 2-1 edge.
And in the fourth game, just when it seemed like the Raiders had put it away, it nearly gave it all back. Up 21-9 at one point (propelled again by Peters' serves), Canastota slowly worked it to match point at 24-17, only to have Mount Markham make six straight saves before a serve into the net ended it 25-23 -- making everyone on Canastota's side breathe again.
Peters took 30 serves and got them all in, earning three aces as Jessica Patterelli got six kills, nine assists and eight digs. Denae Rinaldo and Courtney Kahler matched Patterelli with six kills apiece. Jeana Farruggia led Mount Markham with 24 kills, 14 digs and six blocks.