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.