Maybe the Marcellus girls volleyball team is new to this state tournament business, but it's getting comfortable in a hurry.
The Mustangs went Saturday to Sweet Home High School, in the Buffalo suburb of Amherst, and took just three sets to knock off Section VI champion Albion in the Class B state quarterfinal.
This helps put Marcellus into the venue it has targeted ever since its move from a winter to a fall schedule - namely, a berth in the state final four at Glens Falls Civic Center.
Here, the Mustangs will meet each of the other three state semifinalists (Pelham, Johnstown and Elwood/John Glenn) in six sets of pool play on Saturday. The two best records advance to Sunday's 2 p.m. championship match, a traditional best-of-five affair.
Before all that, though, Marcellus first had to get past Albion, and it looked simple enough in the opening set as Marcellus moved ahead early and maintained a solid margin the rest of the way as it won, 25-18, over the Purple Eagles.
Then came the pivotal second set. It proved a long one, Marcellus falling behind 16-13 before tying it, 17-17, and moving out in front, 23-20. But Albion rallied, tied it again at 23-23, causing a time-out.
They traded points, and the Purple Eagles, ahead 25-24, had a set point, but the Mustangs fought it off. Then Marcellus went ahead 26-25 and squandered a set point of its own, but given a second chance, it did pull through, beating Albion 28-26.
Crushed by that defeat, the Purple Eagles fell apart in the third set and Marcellus won big, 25-9, to secure its state final four berth.
Nicole Fletcher picked up 10 kills and six blocks, working alongside Devon Landers, who got seven kills, and Allie Massara, who had four kills and seven digs.
Jessica Cost fed all of them with 22 assists, adding five digs as Brittney Valentine recorded six digs and four aces. Tori Bingham managed four assists, four digs, three kills and two aces, while Kelsey Burke got three kills and three digs, and Tabby McBride contributed five digs.