So here stood the Baldwinsville girls volleyball team on the floor at Glens Falls Civic Center, exactly 12 months after seeing its shot at the state Class AA championship thwarted by Rochester Mercy.
Again, the Bees had reached the state finals. Again, Mercy was the opponent. Only this time, it was B’ville emerging with the big prize, taking four sets to defeat the Saints Sunday afternoon and earn its second state title in four years.
By now, getting to the last match of the season has turned into a routine for B’ville, so nerves on the big stage wasn’t an issue. And since Mercy had topped them a season ago (in four sets, no less), motivation was no problem, either.
Right from the outset, B’ville played with confidence and conviction, bolting out to a 12-3 lead in the opening set. Mercy never could recover, only chipping away with points at random spots, but never making a serious run as the Bees took that first set 25-15.
If the start didn’t provide a boost, the second set did, even though B’ville lost it. Ahead 19-14 after yet another quick start, the Bees had its only lapse of the afternoon, allowing the Saints to go on an 11-2 run to close the set.
Mercy prevailed, 25-21, to even the match at one set apiece. B’ville quickly regrouped, though, as whatever head coach Mary Jo Cerqua told her players in between the second and third sets, it worked in a big way.
Resuming its fine all-around play, B’ville roared ahead 12-5 in the third set, and then gladly traded points with the Saints until a fast finish gave B’ville a 25-15 victory to move within one set of the state title.
A fast start in the fourth set would prove real important, too. For once the Bees went in front 3-0, the rest of the set turned into a chase, Mercy able to get within one at 12-11, but B’ville quickly restoring the margin.
Then, just to be sure, the Bees, in front 21-18, earned four of the last five points, and when match point fell, the celebration of a state championship was underway.
Lexi Lagoy was named the tournament MVP, as against Mercy she put up seven kills, four aces and two blocks. Madison Whitney led the front line with 16 kills, adding five digs, while Meghann Smith finished with 35 assists. Whitney and Smith were both All-Tournament selections.
All of this was set up by B’ville’s performance in Saturday’s round-robin play. The Bees joined Mercy, John Jay-East Fishkill (Section I) and Massapequa (Section VIII) as the four sides would play six sets apiece, with the top two records advancing to the finals.
First, the Bees faced Massapequa. Against the Long Island champions, B’ville dominated the first set 25-14, but saw the Chiefs put up a decent fight in the second set, extending it beyond the wire before the Bees took it 27-25 to gain an early 2-0 edge in the bracket.
Then came B’ville’s first showdown with Mercy. Despite leading much of that set, and as late as 21-20, the Bees could not hang on as the Monarchs took that opener 26-24.
However, in the second set B’ville went back in front, and this time didn’t let go, prevailing 25-21 to salvage a split. Still, the Bees had to win both of its sets against John Jay-East Fishkill in order to secure a spot in the finals.
The first set against the Patriots proved crucial. JJ-EF went out in front and still had a 17-14 edge before B’ville took over in the latter stages and prevailed, 25-22. That seemed to boost the Bees’ confidence, as it dominated the second set against JJ-EF 25-12.
By doing so, the Bees earned yet another encounter with Mercy with the state title on the line – and it turned out a lot better in 2013 than it did in 2012.