As it moves into the Section III Class B playoffs, the Skaneateles girls volleyball team is undefeated, and perhaps playing as well as it has all season.
The last step toward a perfect regular season was taken Thursday night in loud, intimate Buckley Gym, where Skaneateles beat its fellow Lakers from Cazenovia in three games, matching what it did at home exactly four weeks earlier, on Jan. 7.
The rematch had several special features beyond that of Cazenovia's Senior Night festivities. Funds were raised for the Leukemia Society on behalf of Taylor Matt, a Cazenovia High School student still in search of a bone marrow transplant to battle leukemia. More than $200 was raised, including contributions made by the Skaneateles players.
Once the generosity was done, the volleyball began - and it only took a few points to realize that Skaneateles possessed far too much power for Cazenovia to handle.
Ryan Merle was responsible for each of the first five Skaneateles points through kills or blocks, which set the tone. A 7-2 run in the middle of the first game provided the cushion, and Skaneateles got the last four points to finish off a 25-16 win.
After surrendering the first three points of the second game, Skaneateles (17-0) caught up, then went on 8-1 run to take control. Even when Cazenovia closed to 16-13, Skaneateles didn't flinch, and this time reeled off the last five points to win again 25-16.
Only the third game proved stressful. Close all the way through, Skaneateles fell behind 24-23, fought off a game point, then squandered two different match points before finally closing it out 28-26.
Merle finished with 10 kills and five blocks, plus two aces, while Emily Wood earned seven kills, four aces and two blocks. Katherine Hill picked up four kills and four aces.