Trevor Junquera/Recorder staff Broadalbin-Perth's Jordan Marshall sets the ball for Chelsea LeBlanc (10) during a match at Saturday's Broadalbin-Perth Tip-Off Tournament.
Trevor Junquera/Recorder staff The Broadalbin-Perth volleyball team breaks a huddle Saturday during the Broadalbin-Perth Tip-Off Tournament.
By MICHAEL KELLY
BROADALBIN -- Capping a long Saturday of high school girls volleyball at the Broadalbin-Perth Tip-Off Tournament, the host Lady Patriots captured the event's championship with a victory against powerhouse Johnstown.
And, while the B-P head coach Mike Calvello's squad wildly celebrated the victory, junior Zoe Simonson said not to call the Lady Patriots' win an upset.
"I don't think this was a surprise," she said. "We all believe in ourselves and that we can do anything."
The Lady Patriots did a lot to prove that Saturday, as B-P moved through the tournament's pool play with a 6-0 record; next, the Lady Patriots swept Galway in the semifinals; then, B-P topped Johnstown in the championship round in three sets, 24-26, 25-9, 25-21.
B-P had made it to the Section II Class C finals in 2013, but Johnstown entered as the presumptive favorite, returning several key players from a squad that made it to the Class B state finals last season.
But, after dropping the first set of Saturday's championship round, the Lady Patriots roared back for a lopsided win in the second set and used an 11-3 run to end the action with the season-opening title.
"That's a tribute to them working hard for the past two weeks," said Calvello. "I'm a big stickler with defense and being in the right position, stuff like that. They know my expectations and I am hard on them. We still have a ways to go, but I'm pleased."
The Lady Bills had advanced to the finals after a 5-1 run through pool play and a sweep of Fonda-Fultonville in the semifinals.
Johnstown head coach Heather McGuire said she was not surprised to see the Lady Patriots in the championship round.
"It's been a healthy rivalry between the two schools," she said. "The girls play with each other, know each other, and the last couple years, we've had really close games with them, and we've edged them out. This was their time today."
While B-P and Johnstown closed the action, Saturday's tournament included eight teams, with each playing at least six sets. Clubs from Amsterdam (0-6), Fort Plain (1-5), Gloversville (1-5) and Mayfield (3-3) did not make it out of pool play; F-F was 3-3 in pool play and Galway was 5-1 to advance to the semifinals.
The day's contests helped to give the eight area teams a chance to try out new combinations before league seasons begin this week. Mayfield head coach Eileen Rovito -- whose team did not advance to the semifinals after losing a tiebreaker to F-F -- said the rush of games was a good start for her team, which is working a host of youngsters into its lineup.
"Our weakness showed at the end of the day; we started popping up. That's inexperience," she said. "But ... I saw a lot of good things. ... We have young ones, and we're trying to learn a lot all at once."
The same went for Amsterdam, where Lady Rams head coach Christine Sherlock said the day was more about the process than results for her squad.
"I don't care that we didn't win a game," she said. "I saw a lot of good things and we tried a lot of different combinations. ... This tournament is always, for me, a great super practice."
The big takeaway from the day, Sherlock said, was the play of sophomore setter Kateland Cooks.
"She was very aggressive and not afraid to be a leader," said Sherlock. "That wasn't surprising, but I liked what I saw from her."
After several hours of pool play, both B-P and Johnstown moved quickly through the semifinals to set up a championship match of Foothills Council foes. Early on, it looked as if Johnstown might run away from the Lady Patriots, as Lady Bills star senior Annie Stock recorded four kills in the early going.
"But, then, we played better defense," said Calvello. "We had some big digs -- Megan (Ryder) had a really big dig off of one of [Stock's] hits.
"They didn't get down," added Calvello. "They got down emotionally maybe a little bit, but nothing to the point where it affected them."
Johnstown pushed itself out to a 20-14 lead in the first set, but B-P battled back to tie it at 24. Though his squad dropped the next two points to lose the set, Calvello credited his team's comeback in the first set for what followed in the next two games.
"It all turned around there," he said.
The Lady Patriots mowed through the second set, starting on a 12-1 run and never allowing Johnstown a chance to recover to make the game a competitive one.
"We were all in the zone," said B-P's Ryder. "I don't know what happened, I don't know. We just all came together and we were all just pushing together."
Johnstown recovered in the third set and had an 18-14 lead. But B-P scored the next four points on its way to an 11-3 run to win the championship.
"We just wanted it," said Ryder. "We just kept fighting."
Simonson said the club reached its high point of the day at the right time.
"We needed to focus on communication," she said. "The first few games we played, we weren't talking too much. But, in our last few games against Galway and Johnstown, we brought up the intensity and were talking and being loud -- and, obviously, we did a lot better."
In the championship victory, Simonson had eight kills and three assists, while Ryder collected four kills, five assists and 11 digs. Senior Keyana Fariello had 12 digs and classmate Chelsea LeBlanc added seven kills, while junior Gabby Smith collected four aces and 21 assists, and sophomore Jordan Marshall had three kills and 10 digs.
Calvello said the day's result was an important one for the Lady Patriots' confidence, but that his squad is far from a finished product.
"We're still feeling our way through what way to play it on defense," he said. "But this is a good group of girls."
Contact MICHAEL KELLY at firstname.lastname@example.org