A fair amount of strong play on its part, plus no small amount of good fortune, put the Oneida girls volleyball team in prime position to earn its third Section III Class A championship in five years.
However, in Saturday night's championship match against defending champion Fulton at Jamesville-DeWitt High School, the Indians saw fortune turn against them, beaten in three close games as the Red Raiders repeated its title.
Oneida brought a loud and boisterous cheering section to J-D for the final against Fulton, who had risen from a no. 6 seed to knock off no. 3 seed Carthage and no. 2 seed Homer to reach this title match.
Early mistakes haunted the Indians in the first game as it fell behind as much as six points, including 20-14. Oneida rallied, though, and even took a 23-22 lead late in the game as it seemed ready to take the lead.
But Fulton called a time-out, regrouped, won the next point to get back the serve and tie it, then got the last two points to pull out a 25-23 win.
Much the same thing happened in the second game, in that Oneida fell behind 14-9, stormed back to tie it on two occasions (18-18 and 19-19), then saw Fulton counter and make the big move, the game ending 25-21 this time around.
Determined to keep the match going, the Indians claimed an 11-6 advantage in the third game, yet gave that up to the Red Raiders as the game went through 10 different ties. At 22-22, though, a controversial net call went Fulton's way, and despite Oneida fighting off a match point, the Red Raiders closed it out 25-23.
Rachael Kline still had 11 kills, while Paige Pendleton gained seven kills. Clare Henry finished with 13 digs as Mary Sheridan gained seven digs. Shannon Dowling put together 11 assists and 11 digs as Melissa Murawski earned 12 assists, four digs and three aces. Ann DuChene had five digs.