So close to it -- and yet still, the Baldwinsville boys volleyball team finds itself short of the summit it so badly wants to attain.
In a classic battle Wednesday night, the Bees nearly toppled defending Class AA champion Cicero-North Syracuse on the Northstars' own floor before taking a five-game defeat by the slimmest possible margin.
B'ville roared out with a 25-17 win in the opening game, and when it nailed the clutch points to win the second game 27-25, a breakthrough looked imminent.
But CNS showed its mettle by taking the third game 25-16 and the fourth game 25-20. Then came the final game, a heart-stopper where both the Bees and Northstars squandered chances to win it before CNS, by a 27-25 margin, came out on top.
Through it all, Pete Cuppernull produced 42 assists, seven aces, five blocks and three kills. Dan Dubiel had 14 kills and four assists, while Kevin Saintey, Kyle Lattanzio and Jake Zuke each produced nine kills. Jarret Reaume had five kills and five blocks.
To win, CNS needed Jim Coleman to earn 46 assists, feeding a front line where Tyler A. Smith (15 kills), Collins Crooks (13 kills) and Eric Munoz (11 kills) all proved productive.
Two nights earlier, the Bees had a bit of trouble with Oswego last Monday night, but still needed just three games to get past the Buccaneers 25-16, 25-21, 26-24.
Cuppernull pulled off a rare double-double, with 20 assists to go with a new career mark of 12 aces. Dubiel had six kills on a front line where Reaume had five kills and three blocks, with Saintley adding four kills. Ryan Shelton got five assists.
B'ville's girls team, meanwhile, kept rolling. The Bees started the week with a trip to Fayetteville-Manlius that resulted in a 25-8, 25-6, 25-16 romp over the Hornets.
A tough foe in years past, F-M has struggled this fall with a new lineup, and the Bees didn't display about sympathy.
Jenna Blujus and Lauren McVey each had seven kills on a balanced front line where Allegra Bell added six kills. Paulina Rein had four kills and three aces. Carrie Hack also had three aces. Brianna Stewart produced 23 assists.
On Wednesday, the Bees flattened Liverpool 25-13, 25-13, 25-8, as McVey got 11 kills, with Blujus and Rein each earning eight kills. Stewart had 31 assists, or an average of more than 10 assists per game.