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Caz volleyball smashes Canastota, goes to Class B final

Same venue, same opponent, same semifinal round of the Section III Class B playoffs - and the same satisfying result for the Cazenovia girls volleyball team.

The no. 5 seed Lakers, attempting to defend its sectional title, swept undefeated top seed Canastota Wednesday night at Chittenango High School - exactly the spot where Cazenovia had beat the Raiders a season ago in the semifinals.

With that win, the Lakers advanced to face another unbeaten team, Skaneateles, in Saturday's Class B final at Jamesville-DeWitt. The match starts at 5 p.m.

When it gets to this point in the season, it's rare to see any match decided in the opening points - but an argument could be made that Cazenovia did just that to Canastota.

Once the Lakers claimed the opening point, Chelsea Lauria took over the serve - and her bullets kept finding the target, producing a 6-0 start and a quick Canastota time-out.

That stoppage did little to stop the Lakers, as it served well, played optimal defense and ran the margin to 16-6 before cruising to a 25-18 win in the opener.

Remarkably, the second game started just like the first - Lauria serving up six straight points. Somehow, the Lakers were more dominant, leading 20-6 at one point before breezing home 25-15.

For a brief moment, Canastota fought back, leading 11-9 in the third game. But after the Lakers reeled off five straight points, it never got caught on its way to completing the sweep by a 25-19 margin.

Libero Rachel Burbidge made 16 digs as Lauria picked up 24 assists and six kills. Megan Robinson had 10 assists as Alexis Markowski earned nine kills and Lizzy Reed picked up seven kills. Hannah Koennecke (six kills) and Lizzy Reed (four kills) also made strong contributions.

To win the final, Cazenovia will have to overcome the fact that Skaneateles beat them twice in the regular season. That happened in 2009, too, but Cazenovia won the third and most important encounter - just as it wants to do now.

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