True, the Cazenovia girls volleyball team's showdown with Skaneateles for first place in the OHSL Liberty division Thursday night was important -- but it was also relative.
A year ago, Cazenovia lost twice to Skaneateles in the regular season, but won the most important match in the Section III Class B finals.
Based on that fact, Cazenovia's 26-24, 25-18, 25-18 defeat in this latest duel of Laker powers could not be mourned too much -- because, as head coach Brian Ellithorpe put it, the important stuff comes later.
Still, the match was a barometer for Cazenovia, who had roared through its first five league matches, its only defeat coming to CBA (who's in the OHSL Freedom division) back on Dec. 3. Skaenateles was unbeaten, and looking for some sectional finals payback in front of its loud and boisterous home fans.
The first game would have long-term effects. Twice, Cazenovia had the lead, at 5-2 and 18-15. Both times, Skaneateles would rally and pull in front. Yet it didn't faze the visitors, as Cazenovia inched back in front 24-23 and had a game point.
What happened next proved to be disputed. A kill shot by Cazenovia looked to nick the line, but with officials unsure about the call, they ordered a replay. Skaneateles won that point, then took the next two points to pull out the game 26-24.
Cazenovia would play tight in the second game, too, but Skaneateles seized full command by closing that game on a 9-2 run, then scoring the first eight points of the third game.
In defeat, Cazenovia had Chelsea Lauria pick up 12 assists, five kills and three aces, while Megan Robinson earned 11 assists and libero Rachel Burbidge offered strong defense all night. On a balanced front line, Hannah Koennecke led with six kills as Lauria, Lizzy Reed and Sarah Race (four kills each) helped. Race added three aces.