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Raiders ousted by Caz in volleyball semis

This time, the Canastota girls volleyball team swore it would be different, that it would back up its top seed and dispose of Cazenovia on its way to a Section III Class B title.

The stage was set for the sweetest kind of payback on Wednesday night. Again, the Raiders were a top seed, and again it was facing the Lakers -- in the exact same venue, Chittenango High School's gymnasium, where Cazenovia had knocked them out in 2009.

Instead of redemption, though, Canastota ended up with a grim repeat of the previous year's result, falling in three games to a Laker squad that managed to do everything pretty well.

It started with the serves of Chelsea Lauria. Before Canastota could even get on the board in either of the first two games, Lauria's bullets had put the Raiders on the defensive and led to 6-0 leads on both occasions.

From that point on, the Raiders were in a game of futile catch-up. Occasionally, things would set up for Jessica Patterelli to feed Denae Rinaldo for one of Rinaldo's 12 kills, but more often the Lakers kept points alive with superb defense, forcing Canastota into mistakes.

Cazenovia breezed to a 25-18 win in the first game, then led by as much as 18-5 in the second game before taking it 25-15, leaving Canastota behind 2-0 and needing something fast.

The Raiders did fare better in the third game, leading 11-9 at one point. Cazenovia answered with five straight points and took a 21-16 lead. After the Raiders closed within 21-19, the Lakers called time-out, regrouped and got the last four points to clinch it 25-19.

Rinaldo, in addition to her 12 kills, had 18 digs, while Jessica Patterelli did not register a kill, though she finished with 16 assists and 16 digs.

Liz Lavallee (11 digs) and Sam McCarthy (10 digs) played solid defense, too, as Tessa Gaglianese earned four kills and Tracy O'Hern got four blocks. Cazenovia had Lauria pick up 24 assists, nine kills and seven digs as Alexis Markowski (nine kills, six blocks), Rachel Burbidge (24 digs), Lizzy Reed (seven kills) and Megan Robinson (10 assists) stood out, too.

Canastota finished at 19-1, and will see seniors like Denae Rinaldo, Carmella Rinaldo, Lavallee and Gaglianese depart. Having Patterelli, O'Hern, McCarthy and Katelyn Rounds back in 2010-11 ought to keep the Raiders among the contending ranks.

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