Oneida volleyball sweeps Cortland in Class A semis

Earning a championship, or making a long post-season run, requires a series of good performances - but a little bit of fortune doesn't hurt, either.

And the Oneida girls volleyball certainly received that fortune Wednesday night on its way to a three-game sweep of Cortland in the Section III Class A semifinals at Chittenango High School.

At first blush, the no. 4 seed Indians looked to have a real battle in front of them. Cortland, despite its no. 8 seed, had shown its strength by stunning top seed New Hartford in the quarterfinal round Feb. 11 - the same Spartan team that beat Oneida twice during the regular season.

By the time the Purple Tigers arrived at Chittenango, though, it was missing a vital part to its winning formula.

That would be senior captain Sarah Curtis, the team's main setter, who had 52 assists in that New Hartford win. Curtis had a high fever and was unable to even travel to the match.

Without Curtis, Cortland was highly vulnerable - and Oneida wasted little time taking control, starting the first game on an 8-1 run. The Purple Tigers cut the margin to 15-10, but the Indians pulled away and took the opener 25-15.

By far, Oneida's most dangerous moment came in the second game, when Cortland settled down and took a 13-8 lead. But the Indians used a 6-1 run to catch up and outscored the Purple Tigers 17-5 the rest of the way to win the game by a comfortable 25-18 margin.

Oneida would finish the sweep with a 25-17 decision in the third game where it never trailed.

Rachael Kline led the way with 13 kills, four blocks, six digs and two aces. Paige Pendleton had 11 kills, while Clare Henry earned six kills and seven digs. Shannon Dowling impressed with 16 assists, 10 digs and five aces as Melissa Murawski had 14 assists, three aces and three digs.

The good fortune continued when Oneida learned that Homer, the no. 2 seed, got knocked off by defending champion Fulton late Wednesday night.

Thus, the Indians will face the Red Raiders Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Jamesville-DeWitt with the Class A title on the line.

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