In theory, the no. 2 seed possessed by the West Genesee girls volleyball team for the Section III Class AA playoffs was going to make repeating as champions a bit more difficult.
At least that was the thinking going into the Wildcats' semifinal match against no. 3 seed Fayetteville-Manlius. But once the Wildcats had beaten the Hornets in four games, all seeding concerns were tossed away.
That's because, with that win, WG advanced to meet Baldwinsville in Wednesday night's AA championship match at 8 p.m. at Cicero-North Syracuse. In that exact same gym one year ago, the Wildcats won a five-game classic over the Bees to win its first-ever sectional crown.
To get that rematch, WG first had to handle F-M, a team that had tore down the stretch to improve its mark to 15-3, all of its losses coming to the Wildcats or B'ville.
Taking early control, WG won the first game 25-17, and did not panic when, in a close second game, F-M seized the last points and prevailed, 25-23, to even the match.
What that did, in fact, was spur the Wildcats to even better play. It dominated the third game 25-12, then fended off the Hornets' last charge to win the fourth game, 25-20, and advance to the finals.
On the back line, Carly Graham produced 20 assists, adding three blocks, and Chelsea Sedlacek earned 16 assists and three kills.
Meanwhile, Morgan McDermott pounded away with 18 kills and three blocks. She got help, too, as Alyssa Sutherland earned 11 kills and five blocks and Katie Griffin earned eight kills. Melissa Ulm got four kills.
In the quarterfinal part two nights earlier, the Wildcats systematically handled no. 8 seed Liverpool, delivering a 25-17, 25-12, 25-19 sweep of the Warriors.
As winter raged outside WG's gymnasium, the hosts stayed warm by jumping out in front early in all of the games and never letting Liverpool get too close.
McDermott picked up 12 kills, while Griffin earned eight kills and played terrific defense, earning 17 digs. Graham (four kills, three blocks) and Sutherland (four kills, five blocks) helped on the front line, too.