In order to return to the state Class B tournament for the second year in a row, the Marcellus girls volleyball team had to take the most difficult path possible, needing to beat two teams, Westhill and Skaneateles, that it lost to during the regular season.
At least half the task got accomplished, as the no. 3 seed Mustangs went to no. 2 seed Westhill in Friday night's Class B semifinal and rallied to beat the Warriors in four sets.
This sets up a highly-anticipated championship match against Skaneateles, the top seed, Tuesday night at 5 p.m., after the Lakers (last year's Class C champions) swept Homer in the other semifinal.
Back on Oct. 9, Westhill rallied from two sets down to stun the Mustangs in five, confirming its newfound contender status, but now it had to beat Marcellus again if it wanted a shot at the sectional title.
The Warriors got the jump, winning a hard-fought opening set 25-23. The second set proved just as tight, but Marcellus, playing strong defense to keep points alive, eked out a 25-22 verdict to even it at one set apiece.
They moved to the third set, where the combination of strong defense, power on the front line and solid serves helped the Mustangs win 25-18 to move in front. Westhill got a bit closer in the fourth set, but Marcellus closed out the match 25-20.
Libero Brittney Valentine led the Mustangs with 27 digs. Allie Massara was close behind, earning 22 digs, while Suzanna Sylcox contributed 11 digs.
Jessica Cost also got 11 digs, but helped in other ways, too, gaining 17 assists, five kills and two blocks. Anna Smith worked with Cost on the back line, working her way to 10 assists and seven digs.
Up front, Devan Landers earned 10 kills and three blocks, helped by Hannah O'Brien, who matched Cost's total of five kills, plus Massara and Kelsey Burke, who got three kills apiece.