The Westhill girls volleyball team are state Class B champions for the first time in program history, having defeated Owego in four sets in Sunday's state final at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.
A season-long run of excellence and domination from the Westhill girls volleyball team could only have one logical ending.
And it came on Sunday afternoon at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls when, with one more spike on match point, the Warriors defeated Owego in four sets to claim the state Class B championship.
That makes it two state titles for Westhill this fall, to go with boys soccer, but it’s the first for the girls volleyball program at the culmination of an undefeated campaign by a group of players motivated in no small part by back-to-back defeats to Cazenovia in the 2016 and 2017 sectioanl finals.
None of the Warriors’ 16 regular-season opponents got close to toppling the Warriors. In fact, after dropping a set to Marcellus in the Aug. 30 opener, Westhill recorded 18 consecutive three-set sweeps on the way to the state final four.
That included routs of Cazenovia and Solvay on the way to the Class B sectional title, and then two more sweeps against Alden (Section VI) and Wayne (Section V) in the regional rounds.
Along the way, Westhill also won a string of in-season tournaments, including one at Baldwinsville late in September where it beat eventual state Class AA finalist Victor in the championship round of its division, further boosting its confidence.
Coached by Carrie Corley, the Warriors featured superb all-around talents in seniors Mackenzie Martin and Montanna Gedney, helped by the front-line presence of junior Sara Galante and, on the back line, two more strong juniors, Sarah Schwartz and libero Giannna Militi.
Together, they all arrived at Glens Falls, where on Saturday morning Westhill plunged into a round-robin competition with two sets apiece against the other three participants – Owego (Section IV), Broadalbin-Perth (Section II) and Bayport-Blue Point (Section XI).
Despite the early (8:30 a.m.) start, Westhill quickly put away Owego by scores of 25-18 and 25-20. Then it took on Broadalbin-Perth and rolled through a 25-16 set before claiming a 25-23 set to go to 4-0.
Finally, the Warriors dropped a set to Bayport-Blue Point, 25-20, but then rebounded to win the next set by that same margin, clinching a spot in Sunday’s final.
Meanwhile, Owego had swept both Broadalbin-Perth and Bayport-Blue Point to finish second at 4-2, so it would be the Indians against the Warriors with the state title on the line.
Both the first and second sets of the championship match were closely fought. The key was that Westhill gained the lead each time and withstood all of Owego’s comeback attempts to win them 25-23 and 25-22.
One set away from the ultimate prize, nerves hit in the third set, and the Warriors lost 25-19. Yet that only seemed to focus Westhill and, in the fourth set, it combined power, service and defense to overwhelm Owego and, by a 25-12 margin, earn the state championship.
Martin was the tournament MVP, a fitting conclusion to her high school volleyball career before heading back to basketball, where she is slated to attend Fairfield University next fall. She finished with 28 assists and 11 kills.
Galante and Gedney were both All-Tournament Team selections as Galante put away 20 kills, helped up front by Kate Heinrich, who had three blocks, and Kate Culligan, who got three kills.