For the second time, the Cazenovia girls volleyball team enters a season as defending Section III Class B champions.
The last time that took place, the Lakers, in 2006-07, could not repeat its 2005-06 success, falling in the semifinals to perennial power Marcellus.
Now, a season removed from ousting Skaneateles in the Class B finals, Cazenovia moves on without six seniors that led the way for them, including Julie Gregg, Alissa Easterly and Leah McAleer.
But a lot of talent is back -- and that was proven when the Lakers opened last Monday night at Buckley Gym and beat defending Class A champion Fulton in four games.
Steady at the start, Cazenovia won the first game 25-20 and the second game 25-17. Fulton rallied to take the third game 25-19, but the Lakers regrouped and won the fourth game by a comfortable 25-15 margin.
Splitting the back-line duties between them as Easterly's successors, Chelsea Lauria stepped up for 14 assists, while Megan Robinson earned nine assists. Whitney Goris added four assists as libero Rachel Burbidge provided a strong defensive presence.
Up front, two newer faces ably filled the shoes of Gregg and McAleer, as Lizzy Reed and Alexis Markowski each posted eight kills. Hannah Koennecke picked up four aces, three kills, two aces and two blocks.
In another nonleague match Thursday night, the Lakers visited Christian Brothers Academy and met a different fate, losing to the Brothers in four games.
Both of the first two games proved close -- and each time, CBA came out on top, 25-23 and 25-22. Though Cazenovia did step up to take the third game 25-19, the Brothers rebounded and closed out the match 25-20 in the fourth game.
Robinson, with 17 assists, set up a front line where Reed and Koennecke each had eight kills, with Markowski adding seven kills and four blocks. CBA had five players with six or more kills as Alex Horowitch, with 28 assists, helped create those points.
The Lakers are back home Tuesday to face Jordan-Elbridge before a big Thursday visit to Marcellus and a Dec. 12 tournament in Cooperstown.