A pivotal moment in the Canastota girls volleyball team's quest for an undefeated regular season came Friday night, when it hosted Mount Markham.
And the Raiders almost pulled off its 16th straight win -- but the Mustangs would have the last surge, prevailing in a five-game classic at Laidlaw Gym.
Each sides would take their turn making surges in this match. Canastota went first, rolling through the first game 25-17 with the same relative ease as it had shown beating 15 previous opponents.
However, Mount Markham had a ready answer. In a pair of hard-fought games, the Mustangs came out on top, first by a 25-21 margin, then by a 25-22 margin, to claim a 2-1 edge in games.
So even though the Raiders made its own comeback with a 25-15 domination of the fourth game, Mount Markham was prepared for the fifth-game drama.
Sure enough, the last game, like the match, saw lots of back-and-forth drama, but when it was done, Canastota was on the wrong end of a 25-23 decision.
Jessica Patterelli was exceptional in this match, earning 36 assists and 10 kills. Denae Rinaldo had nine kills, while Courtney Kahler earned eight kills. Sarah Willis (five kills) and Elaine Peters (four kills) also made solid contributions.
Mount Markham had its share of heroes, too, as Gina Furrgia put away 26 kills, four blocks, two aces and two assists, with Kaitlin Phalen (20 assists) and Tracey Lynk (11 assists) working on the back line.
For the Raiders, the week began last Monday night with a solid, consistent effort against Vernon-Verona-Sherrill in a three-game sweep.
Canastota took the opening game 25-17, then stayed at that pace throughout the match as it won the next two games by margins of 25-18 and 25-17.
Rinaldo played a central role, mixing in nine kills and six aces, and Patterelli piled up 18 assists, five kills and five aces. Peters had five kills, while Larissa Kutuzba earned four aces. Willis gained seven assists, matching Kahler with three kills.
The roll continued for Canastota Wednesday with a 25-11, 25-5, 25-10 sweep of Waterville. Patterelli picked up 19 assists, five aces and four kills, as Ashley Round led the front line with eight kills. Rinaldo got five kills as Kahler and Jessica DeVona each picked up four kills.
After its brief setback against Mount Markham, the Raiders would be in action this Friday night against Cooperstown.