Nearly a decade and a half of work by the Baldwinsville girls volleyball program has culminated with the team's first-ever state Class AA championship.
The Bees, denied at the state tournament each of the last two years, finally broke through Sunday at Glens Falls Civic Center, twice coming from behind to beat Webster Schroeder in a five-game classic to earn the state title.
B'ville and Schroeder, the Section V champions from the Rochester area, had made it through Saturday's round-robin play - the Bees going 5-1, the Warriors 4-2. They had split two games head-to-head, so it was little surprise that the final would prove to be a close one.
Schroeder gradually took control in the first game, then used a sustained run to pull away from the Bees and win 25-17, the sort of one-sided defeat B'ville had rarely dealt with all season, even in tournaments.
Yet the Bees did not get too rattled. Shaking off that defeat, it took the lead in the second game, then fended off all kinds of charges from the Warriors. When Paulina Rein put away back-to-back kills, B'ville won 26-24, and evened the match at one game apiece.
The third game proved just as close. Again, B'ville went out in front. Again, Schroeder fought back, pulling even at 22-22, then taking advantage of a few mistakes from the Bees to prevail by that same 26-24 margin, regaining the lead.
In a totally new position, B'ville again struck back during the fourth game, bolting to a 10-2 lead as Rein, Allegra Bell and Sydine Hamm dominated on the front line. And this time the Bees held on (a pair of late kills from Emily Walser helped) and prevailed, 25-21, so the match - and the championship - rested on one final game.
B'ville was ready for it. With the score 9-8, the Bees reeled off four straight points on Brianna Stewart's serve. From there, the Bees pulled away as Erica Miller's closing kill sealed a 25-17 victory - and the state championship