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Simply the Best

Posted Monday, November 17, 2008 by Salamanca Press
Simply the best
By Brian Cook
Sports Editor
November 17, 2008

GLENS FALLS ��”� Salamanca left no room for doubt ��”� there are none better than the Lady Warriors.
A dominating run through the Class C playoffs culminated with the school’s first New York State volleyball Championship on Sunday morning in the Glens Falls Civic Center over Section I representative Westlake (20-2) 25-15, 25-21, 25-17. The title marks the third overall in school history, following a girls’ basketball championship in 1988 and one for softball in 1998.

For the undefeated 2008 Lady Warriors (20-0), they saved their best for last. The win marked the final chance for a group of seniors to reach the sport’s pinnacle at the high school level, and they did so by playing at their peaks.

“I’m not too sure if it’s sunk in yet,” said senior outside hitter Ashley Abrams after the win. Abrams admitted it was a special way to win, with eight seniors on the team looking at their last shot.

“This is what we’ve been looking at for a while, and to do it all together...”
Senior setter Brittany Haines, with tears filling her eyes, agreed.

“I know these people, I’ve known them forever. There’s nothing like playing with them and seeing them everyday.” Haines had 37 assists in the finals.

Abrams, an All-Tournament team selection along with fellow senior outside hitter Katie Auge, poured in 18 kills and 14 digs against a
Westlake team returning four starters from an appearance in the finals the year before. Auge was as solid as ever with 20 digs, 12 kills, and 14 service points in the win ��”� another sweep in a season full of them.

Leading by as many as eleven points late in the opening match on Sunday,
Salamanca held off a Westlake rally that drew the score to within two at 12-10. In the second game, it was the Lady Warriors who had to play catch up after falling into a five point hole at 7-12 ��” a dangerous position as the Lady Wildcats topped Salamanca in pool play the previous day. The eventual champions didn’t lead in game two until 18-17 after a Cassie Crandall block. She had two on the game.

Coach Tom Roof said he felt
Salamanca had turned the corner after Saturday’s pool play scare.

“I felt confident after we split with (
Westlake)...they were going to have to be at their best to beat us.” Roof credited his team’s previous experience in high pressure situations with preparing his team for playing from behind.

“Let’s relax, let’s go back out, and get right back into this game ��” we’ve done that all year.”

Abrams, Auge, and Hannah Reynolds (seven kills, five blocks) did just that. The trio took turns finding open space on
Westlake’s court as they grabbed a two game edge with the title on the line.

After jostling for the lead early in the decisive match,
Salamanca proved its composure in game three, building a nine point lead on the way to the championship.

Reynolds admitted they were a little overwhelmed by the whole experience in day one.

“I think it was just the whole atmosphere, we a little thrown off by it, it kind of surprised us. The first game we just didn’t really know what to expect.” That atmosphere included a throng of red-clad supporters who made the six-hour trek to see
Salamanca advance to the finals with a 5-1 record in pool play.

However for Reynolds, it was “one of the best moments I’ve ever experienced.”

The Lady Warriors not only wrapped up their second consecutive perfect regular season at 14-0, they did so by dropping only two sets during the course of the year.

Salamanca rolled through the Class C and State playoffs without dropping a set at 18-0, pool play notwithstanding. With the exception of the prequarterfinals, Salamanca played every game on the road.

During Saturday’s pool play to determine which two teams would advance to the finals,
Salamanca came out firing after a shaky start in the 9 a.m. opener against semifinalist Westlake. Dropping the first contest 22-25, the Lady Warriors went on to put together an impressive 5-1 record the rest of the way, sweeping returning tournament representative Lake George along with East Rockaway in the process.

“We just focused, we came together as a team really,” said Auge of the turnaround from the early match. No team broke 20 points against the Lady Warriors for the remainder of pool competition, and
Salamanca nearly pulled out the win in the pool opener after being down nine at 15-24. Senior Lori Acosta rattled off seven consecutive service points before Westlake finally shut the door.

First year co-coach Colleen Wiedman put the day in perspective for her team.

“You’ve put in hundreds of hours to get to this point,” she said before the game on Sunday. “Win, lose or draw, enjoy this moment.”

Salamanca, Acosta added four blocks, Lauren Dry had a block and two kills, Kayla Siperek came up with seven digs, while Olivia Beattie added nine. Defensive specialist Molly Cooper had six digs in the sweep of Westlake.

Notes: It was a big day for
Western New York’s Section VI beyond Salamanca’s win, as well. Portville took the Class D Championship with a win over Chateaugay 3-1. Returning champ Eden, however, dropped its Class B game.

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