At many different moments on Wednesday night, the Skaneateles girls volleyball team may have feared that the big green menace of seasons past, otherwise known as the Marcellus Mustangs, may be back in full form.
But when it counted, the Lakers put together the crucial points and, in the hostile Marcellus setting, won in four games, improving its record to 11-0 and completed a regular-season sweep of the Mustangs.
Skaneateles had won the first time, on Dec. 8, without a lot of drama. But the Mustangs had dramatically improved in the month since that point, its front line solid and deep, anchored by Nicole Fletcher as Samantha Vulcano ran things on the back line.
Fired up by its home crowd and the inherently intense nature of the Skaneateles-Marcellus rivalry, the Mustangs hung right with the Lakers in the first game and, at 24-24, regained serve and won the last two points to take it, 26-24.
Dealing with a rare deficit, Skaneateles pulled together and won the second game 25-20, but it was the third game that really proved decisive.
Both teams had the lead, and both teams had chances to put away the game. They stayed tied until 25-25, when Skaneateles regained the serve, then held on to it and won, 27-25, to pull ahead in the match. Newly energized, the Lakers then won the fourth game 25-19 to close things out.
Ryan Merle, with seven kills, seven blocks and four aces, led the way up front as Katherine Hill, Alexa Campanile and Emily Wood each had six kills. Destin VanTyle had a team-best nine assists, with Gabby Eckles adding seven assists and Colleen Cargile offering six assists. Erin Callahan offered strong defense from her libero post.
On the Mustangs' side, Fletcher had 11 kills and nine blocks, while Becca Eddy delivered 10 kills and eight assists, and Vulcano got 26 assists.