WNY Volleyball NEWS



This site catalogs the news from Western New York's High School and college volleyball scene in order to provide greater recognition for the players, their hard work and achievement as well as awareness for the sport of volleyball. There exists a rich tradition of volleyball excellence within our region and it's time we celebrate it!




Gatorade cites Meyer
Buffalo News
December 13, 2014

Leah Meyer of St. Mary’s has been named the Gatorade New York Volleyball Player of the Year, distinguishing her as New York’s best high school volleyball player.

The honor is sponsored by the Gatorade Company in collaboration with USA Today High School Sports. The award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character.

The 6-foot-3 senior middle blocker led the Lancers to a 47-0-1 record, the state Catholic high school championship and a No. 20 ranking nationally by PrepVolleyball.com.

Despite missing the last eight matches of the season with an ankle injury, Meyer recorded 460 kills, 139 digs, 79 blocks and 53 service aces this past season, with a hitting percentage of .468.

She’s a four-time All-Catholic pick and a three-time Monsignor Martin Association League MVP.

2015 High Performance tryout schedules
USA Volleyball
December 5, 2014

The dates, locations and times for our 2015 Boys' and Girls' Youth and Junior National Team tryouts are up! Check out the link below for more information. We look forward to seeing you all at tryouts as we get ready to send our National Teams to the 2015 World Championships! 

Click here for our 2015 Girl's Tryout schedule 

Click here for our 2015 Boy's Tryout schedule 

Meyer, Schneider sign to advance athletic careers
BRANDON KILIJANSKI Sports Reporter Lancaster Bee
November 27, 2014


St. Mary’s senior Leah Meyer, seated center, officially signed her letter of intent on Nov. 14 to play Division I volleyball next year at Duke University. Seated alongside are her parents Michael and Tracy Meyer. Standing in the back are her sister Caitlyn Meyer, left, and St. Mary’s head coach Don Pieczynski. 


For two of the top athletes at St. Mary’s their choice for where to continue their athletic careers in college was an easy decision.

Senior Leah Meyer, who is widely considered as the top volleyball player in the state, signed with Duke University on Nov. 14 while inside the St. Mary’s conference room.

Also on that day, senior Matt Schneider signed to play Division II baseball at Mercyhurst University for next year.

“It’s very rewarding because putting in the time and hours for these kids, I never feel drained about it,” said St. Mary’s Athletic Director Joe Rera. “It doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing things for the kids. So when you see things like this pay off, you feel even better.”

Duke has had its eye on Meyer since she was 14 years old. After playing in the national club tournament that year, Meyer received her first interest letter from a collegiate program and it was Duke.

“That sparked my interest from there,” she said.

Meyer first visited the university during the fall semester of her sophomore year at St. Mary’s. Since then she has visited twice more and became hooked on moving down to Durham, North Carolina.

“I immediately fell in love with it and I knew that’s where I belonged,” Meyer said. “I’m most excited about getting my game to the next level and being able to play against the top level players in college.”

At 6-foot-3, Meyer has predominantly played middle in her career, but within the past year head coach Don Pieczynski has moved her around to hitting more at the pins for the Lady Lancers.

In regard to her transitioning into the Division I game, Meyer said she expects to play in the middle at Duke.

“Not a lot of people like [playing middle], but I personally love it because you get to contribute both blocking and hitting,” Meyer said. “I’m excited to see what happens and I cant wait to prove myself.”

Meyer is currently rehabbing from a sprained ankle that she suffered against Nardin on Oct. 28 at Villa Maria College while running a back slide attack.

She missed the remainder of the season and is hoping to be ready this winter for the club season. Meyer finished the year with 460 kills with a hitting percentage of .468. She also added 63 blocks and 159 digs.

When she does return to the court, Meyer said she wants to focus on defense in order to prepare for the Division I game.

“Offensively I know I can hang with them, but defensively I really need some work,” she said. “I really hope that focusing on it this winter will really help prepare me.”

Meyer was named as the Most Valuable Player of the Monsignor Martin League this season. The Lady Lancers finished 47-0-1 overall and earned their third state title in the last four years.

In the most recent prepvolleyball.com national poll, St. Mary’s was ranked No. 23. With all of the success St. Mary’s has had during her four years at the school, Meyer said she feels well prepared for the next level.

“I think it’ll help me transition, the program here is absolutely amazing,” she said. “They’ve prepared me so much as a person and I’ve grown so much since I’ve been here.”

Duke is currently ranked No. 21 in the national AVCA Division I Coaches Poll with an overall record of 21-6. On Nov. 13, Duke defeated Florida State University in four sets. At the time, Florida State was undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the country.

“Duke and other schools were looking at her, and she was able to pick Duke out of all those schools,” Rera said. “It’s astonishing for a small school like us.”

Depew Bee
November 20, 2014

Depew’s Alyssa Kling recently signed her national letter of intent to continue her volleyball career at Mercyhurst College. Joining her at the signing were, from left: front row - dad John Kling and mom Heather Kling; back row - Depew principal Carol Townsend, grandfather John Kling, grandmother Bonnie Kling, brother John Kling, Depew coach Jeff Addesa and Depew athletics director Brian Wilson.


South girls volleyball wins first state title
PATRICK NAGY Sports Reporter Amherst Bee
November 19, 2014


Williamsville South’s girls volleyball team defeated John Glenn of Section IX, 25-16, 25-16, 25-23, to win the Class B state title on Sunday at the Glens Falls Civic Center in Glens Falls. Pictured in the first row, from left, are: Athletics Director Kevin Lester, Kelsey Stasiak, Jenna Wild, Annalise Hoffman, Jessica Mancino, Gabby Presutti and Nicole Stuber; second row – assistant coach Mary McIntyre, Jessica Miller, Alyssa Oviasogie, Brianna Neeley, Haley Muehlbauer, Kim Dunkleman, Jordan Weinstein, Grace Stahl, Madison Clark, Melissa Postek and coach Tom Sproull.


Williamsville South had never won a state title in girls volleyball entering the 2014 season, but that all changed Sunday.

The Lady Billies, led by seniors Jessica Miller and Madison Clark and junior Melissa Postek, downed John Glenn of Section XI (Suffolk County), 25-16, 25-23, 25-23, for the Class B state title at the Glens Falls Civic Center in Glens Falls.

South coach Tom Sproull thought his team was capable of playing at a very high level, and they took it to another level in the championship match.

“It was a great team performance,” Sproull said. “If we were out of system, somebody would step up and put the ball in the right spot and allow us to get a swing. Everybody hit hard and we forced them to work for every point. Our blocking was great. I thought Glenn played better than they did the day before and we played at a level I have never seen before.”

Postek (14 kills, 3 blocks) and Miller (8 kills, 3 aces, 2 blocks) were named to the all-tournament team while senior Madison Clark (9 kills, 2 aces, 2 blocks) was named the Class B Most Valuable Player.

“It was so exciting,” Clark said. “We never thought at the beginning of the season that we would actually win. It was a great experience even going to states. Getting named tournament MVP means that all of my hard work paid off. It was overwhelming.”

Senior Kim Dunkleman, a four-year starting setter, added 20 assists. Dunkleman assisted on the game point to Miller, who used a two-handed tip to calmly put the ball over the net and onto the ground.

“I can’t even describe it, to win match point in the state championship in my senior year,” Miller said. “I couldn’t ask for a better way to end it.”

Sproull also noted the play of junior libero Anna Hoffman, who said played the absolute best that she has all season.

“Her serving was phenomenal,” Sproull said. “Against Glenn, she put the ball a foot over the net and it hit the floor. She had three aces.” 

South also set up a triple block against John Glenn’s top middle blocker, using a combination of either Postek or Miller with Clark, junior Brianna Neeley and Dunkleman.

John Glenn was not a stranger to playing for a state championship as they had won five state titles since 2004, which included back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.

South, John Glenn and Ardsley (Section I) finished with identical pool play records on Saturday but the Lady Billies automatically advanced to finals because they recorded a higher point differential.

Pool play did not start well as they lost to Ardsley in the first set, 13-25, but responded in the second set, winning 25-15.

Miller, who had no kills in the first set, recorded five kills in the second set with a hitting percentage of over 80 percent. Clark added five kills and Postek added four kills.

South then swept Hudson Falls (Section II), 25-20, 25-18 and closed out pool play by splitting games against John Glenn, 22-25, 25-19. Postek recorded 13 kills and Clark added eight kills versus Hudson Falls and Clark had seven kills and Miller and Postek added six kills against John Glenn.

If South lost the second game to John Glenn, they would have not have advanced to finals.

South finished 18-5. Dunkleman, Clark and Miller and Jordan Weinstein are seniors.

Other members of the team include juniors Jessica Mancino, Alyssa Oviasogie and Kelsey Stasiak; sophomores Haley Muehlbauer, Nicole Stuber, and Jenna Wild; freshman Grace Stahl; and eighth-grader Gabby Presutti.

Five South seniors sign letters of intent
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
November 19, 2014


From left, Williamsville South seniors Ben Noel (University of New Hampshire, soccer); Billy Hartford (University at Buffalo, baseball); Madison Clark (University at Buffalo, volleyball); Clare Losito (Lipscomb University, cross-country and track); and Jessica Miller (Le Moyne College, volleyball) all signed national letters of intent on Monday. 


It’s amazing to win one state championship in high school sports, but what Madison Clark has accomplished over the past five months is absolutely incredible.

In June, Clark helped the South softball team win the New York State Class A title, its fourth state crown in school history. On Sunday, she helped the Lady Billies’ girls volleyball team win the Class B state title for the first time and she was named Tournament MVP.

On Monday, the South senior outside hitter and setter signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball at the University at Buffalo.

“I never thought, let alone one sport, winning two state championships within five months,” Clark said. “It was amazing.”

Clark was one of five South seniors to sign letters of intent on Monday. Also signing were Jessica Miller (Le Moyne College, volleyball); Clare Losito (Lipscomb University, cross-country and track); Billy Hartford (University at Buffalo, baseball) and Ben Noel (University of New Hampshire, soccer).

After South defeated John Glenn of Section XI (Suffolk County) for the Class B state title, Clark called her soon-to-be college coach, Reed Sunahara, and told him the good news. 

“He told me to bring that winning to UB,” Clark said.

She also said she chose UB because it is close to home so her parents and friends can watch her play. Clark is undecided on a major.

Sunahara has told her that she will have an opportunity to come in and start.

Miller, a four-year starter at outside and right side hitter, chose Le Moyne because she loved the campus and liked the coaching staff. She said several players on LeMoyne are graduating so she is hoping she can earn playing time as a freshman.

Miller wants to major in business and minor in English or writing.

Lady Billies coach Tom Sproull said Clark and Miller both raised the game of South volleyball. 

“To have two kids that talented, it just rubs off on everybody,” he said. “Their impact is going to go beyond this year. It was a pleasure coaching both. I think they have an opportunity to contribute immediately in college.”

Hartford, who can catch and play third base, chose UB over St. John’s, Canisius and Niagara because it is close to home and he has known the coaching staff for a long time. He has also been told by the coaching staff that he has a good shot of starting.

UB is getting a great hitter. Last spring, Hartford hit .428 with 18 RBIs. Of his 21 total hits on the season, 12 were for extra bases — six doubles, three triples and three home runs. He also drew 14 walks. He also threw out 15 runners from behind the plate. This spring, he will be starting at South for the fourth straight year.

Hartford earned All-Western New York Honorable Mention and ECIC II and All-Bee first team honors as a junior.

“His ability to hit the ball will endear him to the UB staff,” South coach Kraig Kurzanski said. “He has raw power that I have not seen at the high school level. I’m happy for him. He worked hard. It was a long journey for him to end up two miles from home.”

Hartford is majoring in history.

Losito, who just qualified for the state cross-country meet for the first time, was also looking at UB, UNC-Asheville, Edinboro and Marist, but felt Lipscomb, located in Nashville, Tenn., was a perfect fit for her.

“I loved the team dynamic and they have my major [pharmacy],” Losito said. 

Losito hopes to run competitively and compete in the steeplechase during the outdoor season.

“I am extremely excited for Clare,” South coach Dan Syracuse said. “She has worked really hard the last four years to get where she is today. She has had ups and downs throughout her career and I'm glad to see it pay off. I'm excited to follow her collegiate career.”

Noel, who has played travel soccer for the Empire Revolution Academy since the end of his sophomore year, chose New Hampshire because of its great soccer culture and its business school is top of the line. He will play center/forward at New Hampshire although he does not know how much playing time he will receive in his freshman year.

St. Greg’s girls volleyball wins league tournament
Amherst Bee
November 19, 2014

St. Gregory the Great’s varsity girls volleyball team won the 2014 Catholic School Diocesan League Volleyball Tournament Nov. 3 and 5 at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center in West Seneca.

St. Greg’s played against the top 20 teams in the Diocesan League.

After a first-round bye, the team, which consisted of eighth-graders Natalie Rodas, Clare Skinner, JudyAnn Spira, and Rachel Steffan, and seventh-graders Ciera Darrington, Catie Grable, Leah Hapeman, Siobhan Ryan, Christina Spira, and Hannah Tudor, defeated St. John the Baptist (Kenmore), 25-10, 25-12, on Nov. 3.

In the quarterfinal round, St. Greg’s defeated St. Christopher’s (Tonawanda) 25-15, 25-13.

On Wednesday, St. Greg’s defeated Nativity of Our Lord (Orchard Park) in the semifinals, 25-14, 25-27, 15-7.

St. Greg’s then beat top-seed Immaculate Conception (East Aurora) 25-18, 26-24, to win the championship.

For the tournament, Siobhan Ryan led the team with 20 aces, 18 kills and 19 digs.

Rachel Steffan contributed 13 kills, five digs and four aces.

Ciera Darrington had 11 aces and three digs; Hannah Tudor had 15 digs and eight aces; Leah Hapeman had six aces, and JudyAnn Spira added three blocks and three kills.

Steffan and Tudor were named to the All-Tournament Team and Ryan was named Tournament MVP.

Clarence Boys volleyball caps 2014 season with awards banquet
Clarence Bee
November 19, 2014

Clarence’s boys volleyball squad officially put the wraps on another successful campaign with its recent team awards banquet.

Tommy Ecker brought home the Red Devil Player of the Year award, which goes to the senior who best represents Clarence boys volleyball. Ecker, a First Team ECIC I all-star who led the team in spike attempts, kills and digs this season, was named a tournament all-star at both the Clarence and Sweet Home Tournaments.

Ecker was also named ECIC I’s sportsmanship award winner during Monday’s all-star meeting.

“Being the sportsmanship award winner for our division is a tremendous honor that recognizes the impression that Tommy made on coaches from around the league,” coach Kevin Starr said. 

Matt Dempsey earned the team’s White Letter Award, which essentially goes to the squad’s most valuable player. Dempsey, who was named an All-Western New York Second Team all-star, led the team in serve attempts, points serving, serve percentage and assists. His efforts in serve attempts and assists (1,018 for his career) each set school records. The assist record was formerly held by current Iroquois head coach and 2000 graduate Mark Schlabach, who finished his career with 893.

Dempsey, who was a tournament all-star at Clarence and Sweet Home, was also the Michael T. Schlabach Memorial Award winner for service and leadership. Michael Schlabach was Mark Schlabach’s brother; Michael died of leukemia in 1994.

“Mark knows Matt as an athlete and is aware that Matt now holds two of his previous school records,” Starr said. “He commented that he and his family feel that Matt is a very deserving winner of our team’s most special award.”

The last Clarence player to receive 

All-WNY recognition was David Hill, a First Team pick in 2010.

ECIC I First Team all-star Henry Payne, who led the team in kill percentage, was also a tournament all-star (Orchard Park) this year, while David Cummiskey led the squad in blocks.

For the season, Clarence finished 14-10 overall and was ranked sixth in Western New York in the season’s final coach’s poll. The only schools Clarence was defeated by were Section VI champions (Lancaster and Hamburg), a Section VI runner-up (Eden), the Monsignor Martin Association champion and top-ranked team in Western New York (Canisius), and a state champion (Victor).

The team also set school records for most kills and assists this fall, breaking records that had stood since 1999 — the season that Clarence reached the state semifinals.

Frontier friends validate athletic success on same day, sign letters of intent to play Divison I in college
By: Tom Gallagher, Sports Editor | Sports Hamburg Sun
Tuesday November 18, 2014 


Courtney Courtade and McKyla Brooks signed their letters of intent to continue their athletic careers in college. From left to right: Frontier volleyball and softball coach Debby Schruefer, Courtade, Brooks, and track coach Edwin Streety. Photo by Tom Gallagher.


McKyla Brooks and Courtney Courtade have a lot in common. So much, in fact, that it’s easy to see why they’ve been good friends since the sixth grade.

The Frontier seniors share a friend circle. They’ve both been standout varsity athletes and heavily-courted Division I prospects for a number of years. The two have even had the same coach at Frontier despite excelling in different sports.

They added another layer of common ground on Monday (Nov. 21) at Frontier High School.

Brooks and Courtade both signed a National Letter of Intent to continue their playing careers in college. Brooks officially committed to Stony Brook, where she’ll join both the volleyball and track teams, while Courtade signed to play softball at the University of Albany.

And the similarities don’t end there. Brooks’ volleyball coach and Courtade’s softball coach, Debby Schruefer, suggested that the seniors’ common character traits have had much to do with their success in athletics.

“With these two, their work ethics are very much the same,” said Schruefer, who has coached volleyball at Frontier for 30 years and softball for 27. “They’re very committed to their teammates and to the program. They’re great leaders with great attitudes and are very coachable.

“You look forward to stepping on the court or the field with these young women.”

It’s not just their leadership that make that so, though. Both possess the skill one would expect from a Division I-bound athlete.

Brooks helped the Frontier volleyball team to a sectional championship in 2013 and led the Falcons to a finals appearance this past season. A powerful hitter with a strong net presence, she expects to fit in nicely on the Seawolves volleyball team and believes she has a chance to start as early as next year in head coach Coley Pawlikowski’s three-middle rotation.

Meanwhile, she’ll also be taking her track and field talents to Stony Brook. Brooks placed second in both the long and triple jumps at the state championship meet in outdoor last season. Her state-qualifying triple jump of 39 feet, 3 inches set a new Section VI record. As a sophomore, she took first in the event at states.

Brooks, unlike many student-athletes, never had a dream school. She just knew she wanted to compete at the Division I level. When Stony Brook began to court her in both of her sports, she knew it was going to be an easy decision to sign there.

She verbally committed a few months ago.

“The campus was really nice. The atmosphere was great. Everyone was so nice,” said Brooks, who also visited UB and Clemson. “The coaches and the team — I got to meet the team and they were so nice. Everybody. It wasn’t tough [to choose Stony Brook]. That was my top school.”

Courtade, on the other hand, verbally committed to Albany back in February. She’d been communicating with the school since as early as her sophomore year, her first season on varsity.

A versatile player that can play pretty much any position on the field, Courtade expects to figure into the Great Danes’ outfield. For the Falcons, she’s played second base and been extremely valuable at the plate, where she hit “around .325,” according to Schruefer, and led the team in stolen bases in 2014.

Courtade said officially signing her letter of intent was “a dream come true.”

“I’ve been wanting to play Division I ever since I started playing travel softball,” Courtade said. “I worked as hard as I possibly could to get here. And I’m just glad to know it’s paying off.”

Courtade’s hard work didn’t just come on the diamond. She’s involved in a number of extracurricular activities, including the Student Athletic Committee and Varsity Club, and has maintained a high GPA academically.

“I can not even believe how she balances working out, playing travel, playing for school, doing all of that and still giving 110 percent to school,” said Courtney’s mom, Judy Courtade.

Another trait the seniors share is humility. Both Brooks and Courtade are cognizant of the fact that their athletic successes have largely been the product of the support and knowledge they’ve gained from coaches, parents, family and friends.

Brooks was very quick to credit her mother, Joy Lehman, who was on hand, for encouraging her to join the volleyball and track teams in the first place.

“I don’t know where I would be if she didn’t tell me to sign up for those sports,” said Brooks, who went on to list her uncle, her grandmother, Schruefer and Frontier track coach Edwin Streety as positive influences during her career.

Lehman said that she was proud “to the moon and back” of her daughter’s accomplishments.

“She’s worked so hard to get to this point,” Lehman said. “This just means a lot today.”

Courtade’s parents, Judy and Joe, were also at Frontier to see their daughter validate her status as a top-echelon student-athlete. 

Courtade’s journey on the diamond actually began under her mother’s tutelage. She began playing when she was 8 years old and the first team she ever played on was a Hamburg Breakers team coached by Judy.

“My parents have been a huge part of this,” said Courtade, who also called Schruefer and travel coach Chris Swiatek influential in shaping her into the player she’s become. “All the time and effort they’ve put into this — I can’t thank them enough.”

While Brooks and Courtade will head to different schools in 2015, neither expect their friendship to end. In fact, Stony Brook and Albany are rival schools in the America East Conference — meaning the two may cross paths quite often anyways.

That detail made their shared signing day even more special.

“We’ll be playing each other, obviously different sports,” Courtade said. “It’s just kind of nice to know that somebody else in my school, especially one of my best friends, she knows what it feels like to work as hard as I did.”

“It’s so special,” Brooks added. “She’s my best friend, we’ve been together since sixth grade, we hang out all the time. It’s cool to know that best friends are both signing to Divison I colleges and in the same conference.” We get to visit each other; I’ll go to her games and she’ll come to mine.”

Will South wins volleyball tournament
November 16, 2014

GLENS FALLS -- Melissa Postek’s booming big hits powered Williamsville South throughout this weekend’s New York State High School Class B girls volleyball tournament.

In the end, it was a simple two-handed tip, the last touch of senior Jessica Miller’s career, that went off an opposing John Glenn (XI) player’s fingers and fell to the floor, to give the 18-5 Billies their first-ever state championship on Sunday.

“I guess it was good timing, good luck,” Miller said. “I tried not to tip all weekend because kills are aggressive and kills are what score points. But at the right time and the right place, tips work sometimes.”

After winning the first two sets, 25-16 and 25-23, Williamsville South appeared to have the match-clinching set in hand with a 24-17 advantage. But John Glenn staged a late rally with six straight points to pull within one, 25-23, and keep their slim hopes alive.

South coach Tom Sproull reminded his players throughout the match: “Let go of whatever happened. We’re trying to get the next point.”

That’s exactly what happened, as the Billies raced onto the floor and piled on top of one another in celebration.

Postek and Miller were named to the All-Tournament team while senior Madison Clark took home Most Valuable Player honors. Postek led the Billies’ well-balanced scoring attack with 14 kills on Sunday, as Clark and Miller had nine and eight, respectively. Senior Kim Dunkleman recorded a team-high 20 assists, Annalise Hoffman and Miller had three serving aces apiece, and Miller also led with three blocks.

Despite the sweep, Will South didn’t cruise to victory, as the girls staged comebacks to win both of the first two sets. In the first set, the Billies rang up six straight points to grab a 12-8 lead and then closed out the contest with a seven-point run.

John Glenn grabbed a quick 7-1 lead in the second set before Will South started to make its move, finally catching the Knights at 9-9. The lead see-sawed until the Billies went out in front, 22-17.

But just like the last set, they had to hold off a determined John Glenn squad that tied the score, 23-23, before Will South could finish them off for a two-game lead.

“This team is very resilient,” Sproull said. “When they need to do it, they do. They’ve been through highs and lows, but have come together when they needed to. That’s been their motto all season.”

“We’ve always said the next point is the only one that matters,” he said.

Williamsville South wins first title; Eden claims sixth; Portville second
November 16, 2014

GLENS FALLS – Western New York’s three finalists in the state high school girls’ volleyball finals all added one last honor to their seasons on Sunday: state championships.

Williamsville South beat John Glenn of Section XI (Suffolk County), 3-0, for its first title in Class B, while Class C Eden rolled to its sixth straight championship defeating Broadalbin-Perth of Section II, 3-0. The Class D match was the closest of the bunch, as Portville won in five games over Haldane of Sectiohn I (Westchester County).

After winning the first two sets, 25-16 and 25-23, Williamsville South appeared to have the match-clinching set in hand with a 24-17 advantage. But John Glenn rallied with six straight points to pull within, 25-23.

South coach Tom Sproull reminded his players throughout the match, “Let go of whatever happened. We’re trying to get the next point.”

That’s exactly what happened, and the Billies then raced onto the floor and piled on top of one another in celebration.

Melissa Postek (14 kills) and Jessica Miller (8 kills, 3 aces, 3 blocks) were named to the all-tournament team while senior Madison Clark (9 kills, 13 assists) was the Class B Most Valuable Player.

Senior Kim Dunkleman recorded 20 assists and Annalise Hoffman had three aces.

The set score was deceptive as none of the individual games were blowouts. In the opener, after falling behind early, the Billies rang up six straight points to grab a 12-8 lead and then closed out with a seven-point run.

John Glenn led, 7-1, in the second set before South made its move, finally catching the Knights at 9-9. The lead see-sawed until the Billies went out in front, 22-17 en route to the win.

Postek’s booming hits had powered South throughout the weekend. But a simple two-handed tip, the last touch of Miller’s career, went off an opposing John Glenn player’s fingers and fell to the floor. That gave the Billies (18-5) their first-ever state title.

“The final point in a state championship match — it’s an incredible feeling. I can’t even describe it,” Miller said. “I guess it was good timing, good luck. Kills are aggressive and kills are what score points, but at the right time and the right place, tips work sometimes.”

“This team is very resilient,” Sproull said. “When they need to do it, they do. They’ve been through highs and lows, but have come together when they needed to. That’s been their motto all season.”

CLASS C: Eden won, 25-16, 25-18 and 25-14. The match turning point came early in the second set when coach Stephen Pierce called a timeout with his team trailing, 10-4.

“We made nine unforced errors,” he said. “Really it was just settling them down and trying to minimize the errors.”

The tactic worked. The Raiders outscored the Patriots, 21-8, the rest of the way and never trailed in the third set. Senior Kailey Ballou (13 kills) and junior Meghan Ballou (5 kills, 3 blocks) gained all-tournament honors, and sophomore Sam Burgio (22 kills) was named MVP.

“We became really close as a team this year,” Burgio said. “We’re a pretty scrappy team. We don’t really have any big hitter or big blocker. We use our court IQ to get points.”

CLASS D: Portville scored four unanswered points to pull out a 26-24 win in the fifth set with Haldane.

Haldane’s Division I-bound (James Madison) Kelly Vahos had a monumental 43-kill effort, but the 6-foot-2 hitter’s last shot went wide of the right sideline, bringing the D thriller to a dramatic conclusion.

Shaina Griffin, who led Portville with 27 kills, made it 24-23 with a spike from the left side of the net.

Then 6-foot-1 Emily Losinger blocked a Vahos shot at the net, knotting the score at 25. Portville scored twice more for its second state title, having also won in 2008.

“My girls did a great job,” said an elated Portville coach Kelly Unverdorben. “I’m just so happy for them. They all earned it. We overcame a lot of injuries during the season.”

The 21-2 Panthers lost the first set, 22-25, but rallied to win the next two, 25-23 and 25-18, before losing the fourth, 13-25, to set up the finale. 

Junior Abby Miller, with 21 kills, took home Most Valuable player honors while Griffin and senior setter Taylor Lee, who had a team-high 22 assists, were named all-tournament.

2015 Commits (Boys)
Jerry Strub middlehitter.com
Sunday, November 16, 2014

The below list contains Official National Letter of Intent (NLI) signers (DI/DII), verbal commitments and walk-ons who have met the verification standards below. Middle Hitter doesn't put the commitment into the verified category until one of the following occurs: A press release on the college website; A press release in a local paper (a link to the newspaper website is appreciated); The official club website lists the commitment; An email from the college coach (using their .edu email); An email from the club director or head coach (prefer their club email address); I know the person who informs me. Just because someone's name is not on the above list, does not mean that they did not get an official commitment letter. It just means I have no way of confirming it.


2015 Commits
Name School Club High School POS
Parker Swartz Ball State Sports Performance Glenbard West (IL) MH
Lemuel Turner Ball State Adversity Vernon Hills (IL) MH
Jake Romano Ball State Milwaukee Racine Horlick (WI) S
Brandon Oberender BYU Bones Royal (CA) MH
Brandon Evers Calumet College Enigma Crown Point (IN) OP
Hunter Howell Concordia Seaside Scripps Ranch (CA) MH
Schylar Lillethorup CSUN Ocean Bay Apopka (FL) S/OP
Parker Maki CSUN Bones Newbury Park (CA) OH
RJ Ocampo Eastern Mennonite Coastal First Colonial (VA) MH/OP
Bryant Ekstein George Mason Coastal Landstown (VA) MH
Kyle Barnes George Mason Coastal Princes Anne (VA) OH
Seth Blevins George Mason Coastal First Colonial (VA) OH/L
Will Calaman George Mason Coastal Cox (VA) OH/S/L
Will Schwob Grand Canyon Annapolis Broadneck (MD) OH
Jack Burton Grand Canyon Sports Performance Naperville Central (IL) OH
Emilier DeJesus Hannibal-LaGrange Enigma Chesterton (IN) OH/DS
Spencer Scott Harvard Ultimate Brother Rice (IL) MH
Pat Gasman Hawaii Pacific Rim Buchanan (CA) MH
James Anastassiades Hawaii The HBC Huntington Beach (CA) OH
Joe Worsley Hawaii Pacific Rim Campolindo (CA) S
Brandon Rattray Hawaii Seaside Rancho Bernardo (CA) OH
Dalton Solbrig Hawaii Adversity Lakes Community (IL) OH
Brett Rosenmeier Hawaii Coastal Frank W Cox (VA) OH/OP
Austin Neace IPFW Sports Performance Neuqua Valley (IL) OH
Kyle Fitzgerald IPFW Adversity Zion-Benton (IL) MH
Nico Mercadante Kean Warren Sixpak Toms River North (NJ) OH
Dylan Flor Kean Club Lehigh Quakertown (PA) OP
Kyle Ensing LBSU Bones Valencia (CA) OH
T.J. DeFalco LBSU The HBC Huntington Beach (CA) OH
Joshua Tuaniga LBSU The HBC Huntington Beach (CA) S
Kimball Leituala LBSU The HBC Long Beach Poly (CA) MH
Kai Cromwell Lewis Enigma Chesterton (IN) L
Avery Aylsworth Loyola Pacific Rim St. Francis (CA) L
Collin Mahan Loyola Pace Bootlegger Victor (NY) OH
Dane Leclair Loyola Pace Bootlegger McQuaid (NY) S
Paul Narup Loyola STL High Performance DeSmet (MO) MH
Baron Hahn Loyola Ocean Bay Winter Park (FL) MH
Eric Wiles Marymount Coastal First Colonial (VA) OH/OP
Zach Bohmann Mckendree Milwaukee Nathan Hale (WI) L
Will Frank McKendree STL High Performance Edwardsville (IL) OH
Hugo Van Garderen Mount Olive Dutch U-20 Team VV Huizen (Netherlands) S
Andrew Salmon Mount Olive Sports Performance Waubonsie Valley (IL) L
Zachary Yerington Ohio State Southtowns Hamburg (NY) MH
Frank Melvin Penn State Yorktowne Schuylkill Valley (PA) OH
Jason Donorovich Penn State Eden VBC Lockport (NY) OP
Michael Wexter Pepperdine Ultimate Lincoln Way West (IL) S
Augie Miller Pepperdine Balboa Bay Corona Del Mar (CA) MH
Michael Fisher Pepperdine Yorktowne Cumberland Valley (PA) OH
Jack Cole Pepperdine Diablo Campolindo (CA) MH
Matt Nicholas Princeton Balboa Bay St Margarets (CA) OP
Jordan Ewert Stanford Pacific Rim Deer Valley (CA) OH
Hayden Herc St. Francis Eden VBC Eden (NY) MH
Matt Younggren UCI Seaside Mt. Carmel (CA) MH
Ryan Blaich UCSD Bones Newbury Park (CA) S
Woody Cook USC SCVC Oak Park (CA) OH
Matt Douglas USC SCVC Loyola (CA) L
Ryan Moss USC Balboa Bay Corona Del Mar (CA)  
Tyler Resnick USC Bones Newbury Park (CA) MH
Blake Markland USC The HBC Mira Costa (CA) OH

**Highlighted players denotes representation from Western New York.

Pierce guides young Eden squad to program’s 12th state championship
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Sunday November 16, 2014


The Eden girls volleyball team has made 15 state tournament appearances in a row and has collected 11 NYSPHSAA championships during that span. Photos by Dave Eckhardt.



GLENS FALLS – Some may fold and others will succeed when it comes to carrying on tradition. There were plenty of factors that could have been logical explanations for Eden to either continue its impressive state championship run or fall just short.

For the roster Stephen Pierce coached this fall on the volleyball court, the latter was simply not an option.

Eden brought home a sixth straight state championship after dropping Broadalbin Perth – a Section II program in its first state tournament appearance – in straight sets to capture the NYSPHSAA Class C championship.

And if you watched them play during the entirety of the state tournament Nov. 15-16 at the Glens Falls Civic Center, you would recognize how the Lady Raiders carried themselves as if every single one of them were a part of the five consecutive championships that came before them.

“I was really impressed with this team all year, especially towards the end,” said Pierce. “People don’t realize, never mind this is a pressure-filled situation, a team like this that has many teams before it succeeding, especially five in a row, it really weighs heavily on their shoulders. And for them to come in with real confidence I was really impressed.”

The half a dozen NYSPHSAA tournament titles in a row makes up half of the state championship plaques that Eden’s girls volleyball program has earned, which is a New York State all-time best.

Last weekend was the 15th consecutive year that Pierce has led the Raiders to a state tournament appearance. They have collected 11 titles in that span. The first NYS championship came in 1996.

Game 1 to Southwestern in the Section VI Class C1 final was the only set Eden surrendered in its playoff run, including sweeps of Alden, City Honors, Cattaraugus-Little Valley/Ellicottville in the Class C crossover game, Section III Cazenovia in the Far West Regional and even Spackenkill (Section IX), Mattituck (Section XI) and Broadalbin Perth in the NYSPHSAA pool play semifinals, recording a 6-0 mark in the Class C tournament despite the mixture of veterans, youth and emerging stars on this season’s roster.

“I said it wrong last time,” said Pierce in reference to a ‘D-I’ quote after the Far West Regionals. “What I wanted to say was this isn’t a team of obvious stars. I mean, Sam [Burgio] was big for us offensively, but let me tell you, people like Kailey Ballou and Molly Breier really handled the pressure and delivered the ball.”

Eden’s talent on the roster was not dependent on age and the proof is in the all-tournament team selections.

Senior co-captain Kailey Ballou joined her younger sister, junior Meghan Ballou, on the NYSPHSAA All-Tournament team. Meghan was selected as a sophomore during the 2013 title run.

Even younger than them was Sam Burgio, a sophomore who racked up 22 kills in the final to earn MVP honors of the state tournament.

Kailey Ballou had 13 kills while Meghan recorded eight kills and two blocks. Senior co-captain Bri Tutuska, who recently committed to Bucknell as a Division I track and field athlete, put down four kills and three blocks.

“I knew this was the last year I could help show what Eden volleyball is all about, and being a captain I really wanted to lead the team to another state championship and my last,” said Kailey.

Breier, whome Pierce calls “a real vocal leader,” and Claire Czajka helped pick up the digs and set up the offense while Alyssa Durski while everywhere, blocking at the net, setting up the hitters with passes and even tallying aces at the service line.

Eighth grader Paiton Basinski and senior Carley Nasca were also essential up front at the net for Eden.

“And that’s really what I thought. It was a whole team effort,” said Pierce. “We ended up playing, regularly, nine kids. That’s a lot. Even the kids that weren’t playing much were very enthused and really positively supporting the others. That’s the really nice thing about this team.”

After defeating Broadalbin Perth 25-6, 25-16 in pool play, Eden beat the Patriots 25-16, 25-18, 25-14 in the final, finding itself in a 4-10 hole during the second set before the senior leadership and clutch play of Nasca, Czajka, Tutuska and Kaley got the team back into the game.

“We put ourselves in a hole there in the second game with a whole bunch of missed serves, unforced errors, ball dropping, but they kept their cool,” Pierce noted. “And again, our seniors, Kailey played solid, had a lot of key plays. They inched us back to even and then we took off.”

“It was great to come out with a third state championship,” said Tutuska. “I was really excited the whole time. We played with a lot of energy. Usually we’re really quite, but we were really loud this last game, which is much different than normal.”

No one seemed a match for the Raiders in pool play, either. The likes of Meghan Cassidy, Sam Logan, Sarah Hooper, Angie Cala, Hannah Cialone and Carly DiNardo even contributed to putting games away to help the seniors graduate with another title.

“Because it was my last year ever playing volleyball again, I just knew I had to do my best because I didn’t want to regret not going for a ball or something like that,” said Nasca, an All-WNY first team pitcher who helped Eden’s softball program win a state championship in June alongside Breier. “I just tried to leave everything on the court and do my best.”

“This was my last volleyball game ever and I’m happy my last game was winning states,” added Czajka.

Williamsville South (Class B) and Portville (Class D) also won state championships last weekend, helping Section VI in a sweep at the NYSPHSAA championships with a 3-0 mark.

There have been hundreds of girls that have contributed to the state tournament run believed to be unmatched by any other sport in NYS, but Pierce will never forget how the skills, ages and chemistry gelled together perfectly for his 2014 NYSPHSAA championship team.

“What I was most impressed with from this team was how tight they were,” said Pierce. “Very close friends, very supportive of each other. I think that helped them more than anything.”

Burgio named MVP of state tournament
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Sunday November 16, 2014


Burgio blocks during the state championship. Photo by Dave Eckhardt.


GLENS FALLS – It has been a pretty busy five months for Sam Burgio.

Already with three state titles under her belt, she helped her Niagara Frontier Volleyball 15-1 travel club team win a national championship this summer, becoming the first team in New York State history to capture a national title.

She followed that up with a sophomore season at Eden, garnering Most Valuable Player honors of the NYSPHSAA Class C tournament held on Nov. 15-16 at the Glens Falls Civic Center, where she led the Lady Raiders to a 12th state championship.

“No, I did not expect to be MVP. I did not expect it at all,” Burgio said, still surprised that she won the award after helping Eden conquer Section II Broadalbin Perth in straight sets to capture the program’s sixth straight state title. “I was really happy when that happened. It’s nice.”

“It’s just a great accomplishment to be a part of two great teams in one year. It’s just a great feeling and I love my team,” she said, mustering enough strength to hold back tears.

Burgio, who has recently been garnering attention from Division I programs like the University of Maryland, tallied 22 kills in the final to take home the top individual honor at states.

While the pool play semifinals saw junior Meghan Ballou and senior co-captains Bri Tutuska and Kailey Ballou getting a lot of work, Burgio was clearly the go-to player in the final, as senior Claire Czajka and sophomores Molly Breier and Alyssa Durski set up passes for Burgio early and often, right from the start of the Class C championship game.

“It kind of just evolved that way,” said Eden head coach Stephen Pierce, who also coaches Burgio on the NFVB 15-1s. “Yesterday I thought our middles were scoring really well. We struggled a little bit with that connection early on so, OK, Sam seemed to have the hot hand and they were just delivering balls to her.

“That’s kind of what you do in this game. It’s the same thing you do in basketball, feeding the hot shooter. We were just trying to get balls to her.”

Burgio used to play basketball until she stopped to see how far she can go with volleyball if her and her family completely focused on the fall sport.

She was a part of Eden’s 2011 state championship team as a seventh grader but did not receive a starting role until her eighth grade year. Burgio has propelled into a huge contributor to Eden’s attack since then, even combining for 15 kills alongside Kailey Ballou in last year’s state final.

“To be a younger player and have such a big role on the team, I have nothing to lose,” Burgio noted. “I just have to come out strong and show everybody I deserve to be on the court.”

Kailey joined Meghan Ballou and Burgio on this year’s NYSPHSAA all-tournament team with a 13 kill performance. Meghan had 8 kills and 2 stuff blocks.

“When we really needed Kailey to get a key side out kill for us and transition, and she was hitting the ball really hard,” said Pierce.

With standout names like Lainy Pierce and Heather Holscher – two of a highly exclusive group of athletes to have captured five state championships in their high school careers – graduating last June, it could have been easy to question how well Eden could do this fall and beyond. But with talent coming from players like Meghan Ballou, Alyssa Durski, Molly Breier and Paiton Basinski, all of whom were starters this fall, coming back with Burgio, the emergence of young talent and chemistry should keep Eden on top for years to come.

“As a team we’re a lot closer this year and we know everybody’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Burgio. “We just take advantage of our strengths.”

“Being a part of such a good team is a great feeling.”

WNY Girls Volleyball Compete at States
Girls volleyball
Buffalo News
November 15, 2014

Of the five New York State titles that will be awarded this weekend at Glens Falls, Section VI has a shot at three. The pool play and semifinals are today with all five finals on Sunday.

Class B: Williamsville South (17-5) will make its first appearance in a state final four after winning the program’s first sectional title. The Billies are led offensively by what South coach Tom Sproull likes to call his Big 3: Madison Clark, Jessica Miller and Melissa Postek. Clark has verbally committed to UB.

This may be new territory for South, but Sproull said his team is poised, focused and expects to do well. “They stay on an even keel, never too high, never too low. They just go on to the next match and expect to do well,” he said. “We’ve played a tough schedule, we’ve had our adversity with injuries and now we’re healthy and ready to give it our best.”

Projected starters: Madison Clark-12, Melissa Postek-11, Kelsey Stasiak-11, Jessica Miller-12, Annalise Hoffman-11, Kim Dunkleman-12, Brianna Neeley-11. 

South’s pool: Ardsley, Hudson Falls, John Glenn. 

Class C: Eden (31-5-4) is playing for its sixth consecutive state title. Two weeks ago the Raiders won the Section VI Class C title for the 15th straight time. With a painfully young lineup, veteran coach Stephen Pierce said this season has been a bit of a chess match. “I’ve changed the lineup a number of times, with young kids just when you think they’ve turned the corner, they slide backward,” he said. “I’d say that last one-third of the season they are playing pretty consistently.”

Projected starters: Kailee Ballou-12, Molly Brier-10, Sam Burgio-10, Alyssa Durski-10, Bree Tutuska-12, Megan Ballou-11, Paiton Basinski-8.

Eden’s pool: Mattituck, Broadalbin-Perth, Spackenkill. 

Class D: Portville looks to win its first state title since 2008. The Panthers’ 20-2 record includes a pair of losses to Randolph, but they beat them in the sectional final in four games to advance.

Coach Kelly Unverdorben won a previous state title while at Ellicottville in 2012. She likes her Portville team’s chances. “From midseason on they have been very focused and eager and ready to play hard and play their best,” she said, “They have really come together.”

Projected starters: Shaina Griffin-12, Lydia Lukomski-11, Taylor Lee-12, Madeline Simon-12, Emily Losinger-11, Cammie McCracken-11, Haley Unverdorben-9, Ericka Carlson-8.

Portville’s pool: Chateagay, Harpursville, Haldane.

Tough night for Quakers in sectional finals 
Boys volleyball

by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Orchard Park Bee
November 13, 2014


Orchard Park junior setter Spencer Eagleton passes a ball during warmups of the Section VI Class A championship match against Lancaster on Nov. 5 at Sweet Home High School. The Quakers lost in a sweep, ending their season. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Simply put, it just wasn’t Orchard Park’s night in the Section VI Class A boys volleyball championship match on Nov. 5.

The Quakers had a slow start and couldn’t recover as they lost to Lancaster 14-25, 16-25, 14-25 at Sweet Home High School.

With the win, Lancaster won a sectional title for the first time since 2006 when they also beat the Quakers that season.

Lancaster played against Mc- Quaid Jesuit High School in the Far West Regionals on Saturday night in Orchard Park’s gymnasium and was swept 25-12, 25-18, 25-20.

Heading into the match, Orchard Park head coach Matt Lexner knew the game plan was going to be running an efficient middle attack.

“Their middles are small. They’re good, but small,” he said. “My middles are good athletes and big. If we can get good ball control, we can slap back and forth with them.” 

However, Orchard Park never really seemed to get in a good passing groove, which made their offense an unbalanced attack.

The majority of Orchard Park’s sets were to the pins, which was to the advantage of Lancaster as they set up a huge block.

The entire night, Lancaster’s blocks on the pins were like a stone wall. The Quakers were hitting hard, but their shot selection was hard-cross, which resulted in a ton of blocks.

Overall in the match, Lancaster racked up 21 blocks.

“We couldn’t get the pass up to the net and it tumbled downhill from there,” Lexner said. “Our guys wanted to go right through their bodies and hands and arms. We were hitting hard, but you have to find high hands or the outside hand. These guys got into a big match and they just wanted to rip right through them, and it just didn’t work.”

Lancaster played a much more complete match by making fewer hitting, serving and passing errors. Their defense was also more efficient.

Once Orchard Park tried throwing in some tips to try and avoid getting blocked, Lancaster played solid floor defense and picked up those balls. Lancaster recorded 28 digs in the three-set match.

“They played very consistent and didn’t give us any chances to get up,” Lexner said.

Being down 2-0 in a match was nothing new for the Quakers. In the Class A semifinals against Lockport on Nov. 1, Orchard Park was in the same predicament but found a way to win in five sets.

Back on Oct. 21, the Quakers dropped the first two sets to St. Joe’s and were down 27-28 in the third set, but they again managed to persevere for a five-set victory to give Lexner 300 in his career.

“We couldn’t get on a roll like we did against Lockport or St. Joe’s,” Lexner said. “But that’s a tribute to Lancaster: they are a better team than Lockport and St. Joe’s.”

According to Lexner, Lancaster has now defeated the Quakers six times in a row dating back to last season.

Last season Orchard Park struggled to a 7-13 record and was knocked out of the Class A quarterfinals.

That was right after Orchard Park had reached the sectional finals in each year from 2010-12.

“Our goal was to prove that Orchard Park is still around and relevant,” Lexner said. “A lot of people thought we were off the map and the death of our program was greatly exaggerated last year.”

With the mindset around Western New York that the Quakers weren’t strong enough to be a top team, Lexner said he was pleased with reaching the championship match.

Orchard Park proved the naysayers wrong by eventually getting ranked in the top five of the Western New York Coaches Poll at the end of the season.

“Most people counted us out as just a second-tier team that wouldn’t get out of the quarters, and here we are, we got on a late-season tear and made it to the finals,” Lexner said. “And that’s a great accomplishment.”

Orchard Park graduates seven seniors, including Martin Hackford, Jeff Biddle, Jordan DeRosiers, Brad Wong, Ryan Carney, Sam Gura and Quinn Hodson.

The good news is that the program has many talented underclassmen that can fill those holes at the varsity level.

This year the Quakers’ junior varsity team only had one loss under the direction of head coach Ricky Albano.

“We’ve got a lot coming up, and I expect us to be in the mix with Lancaster again next year,” Lexner said. 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

Lancaster wins first sectional title since 2006
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Lancaster Bee
November 13, 2014


Lancaster junior middle blocker Connor Schultz, right, stuffs a middle attack right back into the face of Jeff Biddle from Orchard Park during the Section VI Class A championship match on Nov. 5 at Sweet Home High School. Schultz led the team with seven blocks that night as Lancaster won in a sweep. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


The Lancaster boys volleyball team picked the perfect time to have their best game of the season.

On Nov. 5, Lancaster swept past Orchard Park in the Section VI Class A championship 25-14, 25-16, 25-14, which was held at Sweet Home High School.

With the win, Lancaster won a sectional title for the first time since 2006 when they also beat the Quakers that season.

Right from the start, Lancaster dominated in every facet of the match but especially at the net blocking. Lancaster served tough, which in turn forced the majority of Orchard Park’s sets to be at the pins.

Overall in the match, Lancaster racked up 21 blocks. Middle blockers Connor Schultz and Joe Mescall led the team with seven and six blocks, respectively. Senior right-side hitter Matt Devic also added four blocks on the night.

“That was pretty much our best effort all year,” head coach Jason Stang said. “We had a complete game, especially blocking. We’ve been getting better at blocking all year long. I think it’s a progression of them starting to read the setter better and starting to read the swing better.”

Lancaster’s ball control during serve receive and their overall floor defense were also much better than Orchard Park. 

Once Orchard Park tried throwing in some tips to try and avoid getting blocked, Lancaster’s defense was in the right spot all night and recorded 28 digs in the three-set match.

“We were working on staying deeper on defense because a lot of their guys swing deep,” Stang said. “All year if we are in the right spots, we dig balls. We have a good reaction-type defensive team. We don’t let it hit the floor very easily.”

Lancaster also featured a balanced offense in the match. Junior outside hitters Jay Baumann and Kenny Rudz led the team with eight kills each. Devic added five kills, while Mescall and Schultz each had four.

Senior setter Tyler Witt dished out 26 assists in the match, 11 of which came in the deciding third game.

Lancaster committed just four hitting errors on the night, and as a team hit at a .430 clip.

“We had beaten this team twice and it’s always tough to beat a team that third time,” Stang said. “It felt like the guys just rose up to the task.”

Lancaster then advanced into the Far West Regionals and played against McQuaid Jesuit High School — the Class A champion from Section V — on Saturday night at Orchard Park High School.

It wasn’t nearly as sharp of a match for Lancaster — but a lot of that can be credited to how strong of a team McQuaid is — and they lost in a sweep 12-25, 18-25, 20-25.

While Lancaster barely made any errors against Orchard Park, it was the complete opposite story against McQuaid.

“We just had too many errors to really compete with them that night,” Stang said. “We shot ourselves in the foot too many times, and against a good team you can’t do that too often.”

McQuaid served tough in the match with consistent hard and flat floaters, which resulted in Lancaster’s passing being off.

Then once Lancaster tried to get a good hard swing, McQuaid had a much larger block than Orchard Park.

McQuaid features a 6-foot-7 middle blocker and he dominated both blocking and hitting as he led the team in kills. 

“Instead of swinging high off the block, we swung too low with trying to get kills between hands, and they had no holes in their block,” Stang said. “Their middle was getting so high and it was very tough for our middles to touch. That’s so hard to block and super hard to dig.”

Lancaster finished the season 23-5 overall, which is the most wins Stang has had during his 11-year tenure as head coach.

Witt was one of the best setters in the area this year, as he registered a total of 1,143 assists this season alone. He averaged close to 10 assists per set, and Stang said that’s by far the most he’s seen at Lancaster.

Last fall Witt was used as part of a 6-2 system, and he accumulated more than 1,500 assists in his varsity career.

“He was critical in this whole run,” Stang said. “He made average passing much better while running our offense.”

Lancaster graduates six seniors, which include Witt, Mescall, Devic, Trevor Gabamonte, Conrad Walters and Andy Fellner.

“Overall, I have a very good feeling for the whole year. I felt like we played probably to our ability or pushed ahead a little higher all the time,” Stang said.

St. Mary’s wins 14th state championship
BRANDON KILIJANSKI Sports Reporter Lancaster Bee
November 13, 2014 


Pictured is the St. Mary’s girls volleyball team after they won a state title on Sunday in their home gymnasium by defeating St. Anthony’s in a sweep. It’s the program’s third state championship in the last four years and 14th overall. Members of the team include, from left: top row - assistant coach Tracy (Pieczynski) Vinz, head coach Don Pieczynski, Madison Fermo, Alyssa Zirnheld, Jillian Vitale, Kayla Prentki, team mascot Lance, Caitlyn Meyer, Summer Slade, Bailey Dolegowski, Shelby Strausbaugh, Gina Appenheimer, assistant coach Amy Jeary, assistant coach Rocco Lucci Jr.; bottom row - Jessica Kranz, Kathryn Vogl, Kaitlyn Tytka, Nicole Giardina, Leah Meyer, Ashley Drzymala, Onalee Duane, Madeline Wnuk and Mikala McCartney.


It was a volleyball marathon on Sunday, but thanks to senior Ashley Drzymala continuing her recent hot streak, once again the Lady Lancers were crowned as state champions.

The top four Catholic school teams in the state met at St. Mary’s to play a one day tournament in deciding who would become the next champion.

St. Mary’s has been without their best player, senior Leah Meyer due to an ankle injury, and she is also arguably the best player overall in the state

Since she was injured, St. Mary’s has won eight consecutive matches which gave them their third state title in the last four years.

St. Mary’s ran through pool play undefeated as they won both games against Fontbonne Hall Academy, St. Anthony’s High School and Maria Regina High School. 

That earned them the top seed for the championship playoffs that came afterward.

“During pool play we try to keep the starters sharp and give them enough rest,” head coach Don Pieczynski said. “I played the entire bench and I have confidence in them. They practice against the best kids in the state everyday.”

In the semifinals, St. Mary’s cruised against Maria Regina 25-8, 25-10. Pieczynski was able to get all 18 players on the roster in the match.

In the finals, St. Mary’s matched up against the No. 2 seed St. Anthony’s and won in a sweep 25-15, 25-22, 25-23.

The Lady Lancers were down 20-17 in the final set but rallied back to win eight of the next 11 points.

“I told them let’s be a freight train and nobody is going to stop us,” Pieczynski said. “They were on a mission, you could tell by the look in their eyes and the expressions on their faces.”

Dryzmala ripped a ball off the block and out of bounds for a resounding kill to end the match. It was fitting because she had been an unstoppable force the entire day.

In that match, Dyzmala finished with 24 kills while hitting at a .302 clip and added 19 digs. Overall on the day, Dryzmala accumulated 76 kills with a .435 hitting percentage, and totaled 41 digs.

“Ashley has been unstoppable,” Pieczynski said. “I cant explain it, I’ve coached her for four years in high school and two years in club, and I’ve never seen her dominate like this. She is just on a mission and has carried the team on her back.”

Dryzmala will play at Division II Daemen College next year, where her older sister Amber Drzymala is currently a sophomore.

“She is tall, fast and has great hands,” Pieczynski said. “It’s ridiculous how her game, and her as a person, has matured in the last year.”

With the win, St. Mary’s finished off the season 47-0-1 overall. The only “tie” they have this fall is a split against Nazareth Area High School (Pennsylvania) 25-17, 20-25 at the Garden City Invitational in New Jersey on Oct. 11.

Pieczynski said this was one of the best season’s since he became head coach in 2006. He has won five state titles in his tenure.

“That one tie proves that nobody is perfect,” Pieczynski said with a laugh. “But everyone was waiting for us to fail and we didn’t want to think that. Who cares that we didn’t have Leah, because we have a strong program overall and that’s why we win. The rest of our kids are also very good.”

St. Mary’s features one of the best setters in Western New York as junior Bailey Dolegowski runs the offense.

In the championship match, Dolegowski dished out 36 assists and recorded 14 digs. Overall on the day, she registered 123 assists and 38 digs.

“Bailey has been another one who amped up her game,” Pieczynski said. “She’s a strong kid and a quiet leader. We changed up our lineup, and there’s a different rhythm with the hitters, and she has done a great job.”

Also stepping up were a pair of underclassmen in sophomore Caitlyn Meyer and freshman Summer Slade. When Leah Meyer went down, her sister Caitlyn moved from outside hitter to the middle, and then Slade stepped in on the outside.

In the state tournament, Caitlyn Meyer had 23 kills and Slade added 20 kills.

“They played within their abilities, they’re were not intimidated and didn’t do too much,” Pieczynski said. “That’s all you can ask for, to keep it simple and that’s what they did.”

St. Mary’s won the Monsignor Martin League Championship by defeating Nardin in four sets 22-25, 26-24, 27-25, 25-20 in a home match on Nov. 5.

The Lady Lancers missed six serves in the first set, but then missed just two for the rest of the match. St. Mary’s came back from deficits of seven, eight and nine points throughout the match in order to win. Dryzmala had another monster night as she registered a team high 27 kills.

The Lady Lancers graduate five seniors which include Dryzmala, Leah Meyer, Nicole Giardina, Kaitlyn Tytka and Shelby Strausbaugh.

Leah Meyer was named as the Most Valuable Player of the Monsignor Martin League. Drzymala, Dolegowski and Caitlyn Meyer were all named First Team All-Stars, while Strausbaugh was selected as a Second Team All-Star.

South girls volleyball rallies for first regional title
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
November 12, 2014


Madison Clark of Williamsville South bumps the ball during the Lady Billies’ three-game win over Cheektowaga in the Section VI Class B-1 final on Tuesday, Nov. 4 at Lockport High School. The Lady Billies went on to beat Albion in three games in the Class B overall final on Thursday and Honeoye Falls–Lima in five games in the Class B Far West Regional on Saturday, also at Lockport. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Williamsville South girls volleyball coach Tom Sproull said the Class B Far West Regional match against Section V’s Honeoye Falls-Lima Saturday at Lockport High School was absolutely unbelievable, and he was not kidding.

The Lady Billies (17-5) rallied from a 23-21 deficit in the fifth set against HF-L for a 27-25 victory.

It was South’s first regional title in school history and capped off a week in which the Lady Billies also won its first Section VI titles in school history, winning the B-1 and overall B crowns.

“It was as climactic as they could have made it,” Sproull said. “I give the girls a ton of credit for hanging in there and making a hard pass and putting the ball down. They weren’t afraid to make a mistake. Even if they hit it out of bounds, I am glad they swung. My biggest thing was that I did not want them to tip and roll it. The girls did what they do, put a run together and finished it out.”

Junior Melissa Postek led the South offense with 20 kills and added 23 digs. Almost half of her kills came in the fifth game, including the final kill that sealed the win.

“When Melissa rotated to the front row, she definitely had an advantage against them in height,” Sproull said. “We knew if we could get her the ball she could keep swinging on them.”

South took the first game, 25-22, fell behind 8-0 in the second game and lost 12-25, but rebounded in the third game to win, 25-17. The Lady Billies led 15-8 in the fourth game but lost 22-25.

South trailed by as many as five in the fifth game — 18-13 — before Postek posted three-straight kills to start the team’s rally.

“We kind of got out of our game, we didn’t want to hit or pound the ball,” Sproull said. “We were scared of getting blocked. I said if they block you, they block you. I told them to do what we do, not change our game and hit, hit, hit.”

“They kept us on our toes and we had to be ready for whatever they were going to give us,” said Postek. “It’s unbelievable. I’m so proud.”

Senior Madison Clark added 18 kills and 21 assists. Senior Jessica Miller had 16 kills and 23 digs. Senior Kim Dunkleman supplied 34 assists and junior Annalise Hoffman led the defense with 34 digs.

To reach regionals, the Lady Billies (16-5) downed Starpoint, 25-17, 25-13, 25-19 on Tuesday, Nov. 4 for the Section VI Class B-1 title and Albion, 25-8, 25-16, 25-14 on Thursday at Lockport for the overall Class B title.

The Lady Billies jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first game against Albion and never looked back. South’s side out percentage in the first game was an eye-popping 87.5 percent.

“We came out firing on all cylinders and they lost their confidence quickly,” Sproull said. “Since we passed well and served hard, we were getting free balls that we were able to run any hitter we want. We put balls down hard.”

Clark (13 kills) and Miller (11 kills, team-high 60 percent kill percentage) and Postek (10 kills) paced the offense.

Sproull also lauded the play of middle blockers, juniors Brianna

Neeley and Kelsey Stasiak, Hoffman and Kim Dunkleman.

South dominated Starpoint, averaging a side out percentage over 60 percent for all three sets.

“We were passing the ball well and our serve receive did a good job where we could establish the tempo of our offense,” Sproull said. “We were able to get some hard swings right away and put them on defense.

Dunkleman had a strong job serving, recording 25 of 26 on serving line. The team also got strong contributions from outside hitters Clark, Miller and Postek.

South advances to the Class B state final four at the Glens Falls Civic Center. They open pool play matches against Ardsley at 8:30 a.m. followed by Hudson Valley and Glenn. The finals start at noon on Sunday.

East girls volleyball wins first section title 
Team falls in Class A regional

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
November 12, 2014


Rachel Reusch of Sweet Home fires a ball past the Williamsville East defense during the Lady Panthers’ three-game loss in the Section VI Class A final on Wednesday at Lockport High School. Photos by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Williamsville East was experiencing déjà vu heading into the Section VI Class A girls volleyball final Wednesday at Lockport High School.

Last year, the Lady Flames downed Sweet Home twice during the regular season and lost in the final. This year, the same scenario happened in the regular season, but it was all East in the final as they downed Sweet Home, 25-19, 25-22, 25-11.

It was East’s first sectional title in school history.

“It was great,” East coach Scott Wright said. “We have done something that the school has never done before in volleyball. They can always say they are the first.”

Wright said a key for the team in the championship match was they kept its composure.



Natalie Berrafato and Laryssa Melnyk of Williamsville East block a shot during the Lady Flames’ three-game win over Sweet Home in the Section VI Class A final on Wednesday at Lockport High School. It is East’s first sectional title in school history.


“We never got too high or low,” Wright said. “It was a complete performance where we never let our emotions get out of control, and we played solid volleyball at a high level.”

East’s defense played tough, recording 58 digs over three games. Senior Bridget Sleap and junior Sam Mendelsohn both recorded 13 digs.

“Our focus was on limiting their middles, and although we didn’t shut them down, we got more hands on the balls,” Wright said.

“They took control of the momentum,” Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said. “They neutralized our offense by getting touches at the net, and we made the most unforced errors that we ever made. It was our worst match of the season.”

Sophomore Lexi Novak (18 kills, nine digs) and junior Carly Shifflet (16 kills, 12 digs) led the East offense.

Senior Natalie Berrafato handed out 36 assists and chipped in 11 digs.

Sweet Home was paced by Emma Hubert (14 kills) and Rachel Reusch (12 kills).

The Lady Panthers finished 14-5 and graduates Hubert, a four-year starter at middle blocker; Victoria Rigler (libero); Quinn Sorrentino (defensive specialist) and Emily Carver (outside hitter).

“We had so much to be thankful for this season,” Martin said.

Unfortunately, East’s season came to an end against Section V’s Pittsford-Sutherland, the defending Class A state champion, 19-25, 25-22, 19-25, 16-25, in the Class A Far West Regional Saturday at Gates-Chili High School in Rochester.

“They are arguably the secondor third-best team in the state,” Wright said. “They don’t lack in any position. They have a 6-2 middle that is going to Syracuse. Their serve receive was the difference in the match.” 

In the first game, Wright said the team’s defense and serve receive held the team back, but East responded in the second game by winning eight of the last 11 points to win the second game.

The beginning of the third game was back and forth until Pittsford Sutherland took over with the match tied at 16-16.

Novak (19 kills, 26 digs), Shifflet (16 kills, 20 digs), Sleap (17 digs), Mendelsohn (nine digs) and Berrafato (35 assists, 22 digs) paced East. 

East finished 20-2. Sleap (446 digs); Berrafato (920 assists, 275 digs); Madison Cicero; Laryssa Melynk; Tori Thuman and Alex Sommer are seniors.

The team will still return some strong players, including Shifflet (442 kills, 358 digs); Novak (402 kills, 79 service aces, 392 digs) and Mendelsohn (472 digs).

Berrafato, a four-year starter and Sleap, a three-year starter, are two-year captains.

Clarence Girls volleyball team wins first sectional title as AA school
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter Clarence Bee
November 12, 2014


Lauren Barnes bumps a Frontier shot back during Clarence’s 25-23, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21 triumph in the Section VI Class AA title game, held Nov. 5 at Lockport. Photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Clarence’s girls volleyball team hit its goal of winning a Section VI Championship Nov. 5 when it knocked off Frontier in a tight, back-and-forth Class AA title match at Lockport by 25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21 scores. 

The Lady Red Devils, cheered on by the bus worth of fans who made the trip, never panicked despite never really being able to open up a lead larger than four points in any of the four games. Coach Mike Meyer noted that “from the first point of the first game, the entire match was tight,” saying that he even noticed those Clarence fans in attendance — who he said were “great, positive and loud” — were nervous.

“Frontier played an unbelievable match, but we have been working on our composure all year long, so that if we were tested, we’d be able to stick together and pull through,” Meyer said. “Frontier gave us all that we could handle — it seemed like whenever we’d get a little lead they’d find a way to come back — so I was really proud of the way my girls responded. They were rightfully very excited to win when we pulled it out.”

Clarence, whose second title in program history is the team’s first as a Class AA school and first overall since 1988, was led by Gabbi Pacatte’s 18 kills in nearly 50 attacks. Pacatte also had 15 digs, which helped the Lady Red Devils gain extra chances to attack. Karley King, who had 11 kills, chipped in with nine digs, which Meyer called “really crucial.” Lauren Barnes added 13 digs, while Maddy Christopher and Meghan Neelon (17 kills in 40 attacks) combined efforts to dish out 34 assists.

The win pushed Clarence into Saturday’s Far West Regional round to face Penfield, Section V’s champion and a squad that the Lady Red Devils had played earlier this season during the St. Mary’s Tournament. As was the case in the St. Mary’s Tournament, Clarence was unable to pull out the win, as Penfield advanced to the state final four by winning, 25-20, 25-22, 25-22, to end the Lady Red Devils’ season.

Clarence had a chance at extending the match to at least a fourth game, leading the third game with three points to go, but Penfield was able to get the serve back and run off a number of points to rally the team to the victory.

“We were right there in every game, but their serving was tougher and more consistent than ours — and because of that, they had a lot more chances to attack the ball and scored a few more points because of that,” Meyer said. “I went into the match thinking that serving and serve receiving would be what the match would boil down to, and we struggled to consistently receive their serve.

“We had some things that they had no answer for, and they had some things we had no answer for,” Meyer continued. “I was proud of how my girls fought until the very end, though. They stuck together all year and stuck to their goals of improving. They’ll go down as one of the best teams in Clarence girls volleyball history, and that’s a huge deal.”

Clarence finished its season 21-3 overall and loses three seniors — Pacatte, Barnes and Maddie Storr, who did not play at all this season due to a knee injury — off the squad. But, with three sophomores and a freshman making up two-thirds of the team’s starting lineup this season, Meyer believes the future is certainly bright for the program.

“The bottom line is that these girls are champions, and it’s been a long time since there has been a Clarence girls volleyball team that could say that about itself,” Meyer said. “Gabbi and Meghan were the only returning starters from last year who were in the same position again this year, so I believe it was pretty incredible for this group to do what we did. We did what we did because everyone bought into the concept of putting the team first, and I think the girls recognized that themselves by the way they voted for eight different girls for the team’s Most Improved Player.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Marauders can’t stop streak of Canisius titles
Boys volleyball
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Ken-Ton Bee

November 12, 2014

St. Joe’s had the home crowd for the Monsignor Martin League championship match on Nov. 5 and treated them to a first set win. The Marauders beat Canisius in the first game 25-21, but then dropped the next three sets in succession. Canisius won the match which gave them 15 consecutive Monsignor Martin titles.

St. Joe’s had its best serving game in the opening set, which allowed them to capitalize on stringing points together. Senior Jacob Donn used a powerful jump serve to help the Marauders win seven straight points. When he started on the serving line, Canisius led 11-10, but Donn was eventually able to give the Marauders a 17-11 lead.

Canisius had to use both timeouts during that span and it was the turning point which gave the Marauders a 1-0 lead in the match.

“We got them out of system and knew they would set to the pins,” head coach Mark Anzalone said. “They would either put a ball over that we could handle easier, or we forced them into a mistake.”

The home crowd was rocking from the start of player introductions, but even got louder once the Marauders took the first set. One of the referees told Anzalone it was the loudest match he had ever officiated.

“It was a special opportunity, not everyone gets a chance to participate in this type of atmosphere in any sport,” Anzalone said.

In the final three sets, St. Joe’s kept the pressure on Canisius but the Crusaders dug a lot of balls and starting winning points in transition. The errors started to pile up for the Marauders in all four phases of the game, and that’s what led to Canisius winning the match.

“You cant make too many mistakes against an opponent like that,” Anzalone said. “But I’m really proud of how we played. We played hard all night long and everyone noticed we laid it all out on the line.”

Senior outside hitter Anthony Berardi led the Marauders with 14 kills while Donn also had a solid night with 13 kills. In addition to them, St. Joe’s graduates five other seniors including libero Jason Brick, setter Joe Koszelak, middle blocker Bryce Donovan, outside hitter Nick Oakes and middle blocker Pat Wells.

“This was an amazing group of seniors, they’ve been playing together for four years and many have played three years of club volleyball,” Anzalone said.

In the Monsignor Martin semifinals, St. Joe’s routed St. Francis 25-15, 25-9, 25-17 after having a full week off. The Marauders dominated the match and Berardi led the team in kills once again with 10.

“Our goal was to be Monsignor Martin champions and it didn’t turn out the way we wanted to on the scoreboard,” Anzalone said. “But it’s more than just volleyball, it’s a brotherhood here. And that’s special knowing you’ve competed for each other and with each other.”

Western New York 2014 Boys Top 10 Poll - Final
Buffalo News
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Canisius (9) 119 2
2. Hamburg (2) 105 4
3. Eden 92 1
4. Lancaster (1) 91 3
5. Orchard Park 67 5
6. Clarence 56 6
7. St. Joe's 39 9
8. Lockport 36 8
9. West Seneca West 29 7
10. Grand Island 13 10


Western New York 2014 Girls Top 10 Poll - Final
Buffalo News
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Clarence (8) 80
2. Williamsville East 70
3. Williamsville South 56
4. Sweet Home 55
5. Frontier 53
6. Williamsville North 40
7. North Tonawanda 39
8. Hamburg 26
9. Grand Island 15
T-10. Albion 10
T-10. Orchard Park 10
Also receiving votes: Starpoint, Lockport and Lancaster.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60
2. Eden 54
3. Nardin 48
4. Portville 42
5. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 30
6. Southwestern 25
7. North Collins 23
8. City Honors 19
9. Randolph 14
T-10. Chautauqua Lake 12
T-10. Immaculata 12
Also receiving votes: Mt. St. Mary's and Falconer.


St. Mary’s crowns a dream volleyball season
By Corey Desiderio Special to the news Buffalo News
November 9, 2014

It was never a matter of if the St. Mary’s of Lancaster girls volleyball team would win the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association championship on Sunday. It was only a matter of when.

Just four days after defeating Nardin to win its sixth straight Monsignor Martin championship, the Lancers swept St. Anthony from Long Island, 25-15, 25-22, 25-23, in front of an estimated 150 at St. Mary’s for its third NYSCHSAA title in four years.

“I still think it’s a dream,” St. Mary’s senior outside hitter Ashley Dryzmala said. “We didn’t walk in here during preseason thinking it was going to be like this. I think we walked in here and as the season progressed, we just kept getting better. Right now on this court, so many emotions are flying and we’re just all ecstatic with how this ended.”

The dream season for St. Mary’s, the top team in Western New York and the 28th-ranked team in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com, ended with a 47-0-1 match record and a 118-6 set record (both including tournaments).

Has St. Mary’s volleyball ever had a better season?

“No, record-wise no,” Lancers coach Don Pieczynski said. “There haven’t been many teams around here that have. I’d have to research it, but it was almost perfect. We won four tournaments undefeated. That just don’t happen.”

Not only did the Lancers finish the season undefeated, they did so without Duke-bound middle hitter Leah Meyer for their Monsignor Martin and NYSCHSAA championships. Meyer is nursing a right leg injury that she said will sideline her for four months.

“I’ve said all along: I know we don’t have Leah Meyer, but neither does the other team,” Pieczynski said. “Leah is such a dominating player that everyone else thinks it’s just Leah Meyer, and she’s absolutely the best player in New York State, but the rest of our kids have some pride in their game as well.”

If Meyer had it any differently, she obviously would have rather been out there on the court with her fellow Lancers through their championship runs. But players like Drzymala, a Daemen commit who had 24 out of her 76 total kills for the tournament in the final match, and junior setter Bailey Dolegowski, who had 123 total assists and 36 in the final, picked up the slack.

Pierczynski knows how hard it is to win in the Monsignor Martin and beyond year after year. That’s why this St. Mary’s team will be one the Lancers coach will remember and celebrate for a long, long time.

“When you’re on top, it’s hard to stay there,” Pierczynski said. “Everybody’s aiming for you and we had a big bull’s-eye on our back right from the start of the season … and we had to fend them off. It’s tough to do game in and game out because they’re all measuring their game against our best.”

AVCA Division I Coaches Week #11 Poll: November 10, 2014
Womans Volleyball
November 10, 2014

Rank School (First Place Votes) Total Points Adjusted 2014 Record Previous Week
1 Stanford (54) 1493 24-0 1
2 Washington (6) 1445 25-0 2
3 Florida State 1359 24-0 3
4 Wisconsin 1314 22-2 4
5 Texas 1256 18-1 5
6 Penn State 1221 24-3 6
7 Florida 1144 19-3 7
8 North Carolina 1061 20-2 8
9 Colorado State 967 24-2 10
10 Oregon 889 18-6 11
11 Nebraska 875 18-6 13
12 Illinois 855 19-6 9
13 BYU 788 21-4 14
14 Arizona 656 19-7 16
15 Kentucky 630 22-4 17
16 Purdue 584 19-7 12
17 Ohio State 517 18-8 18
18 UCLA 500 17-8 15
19 Arizona State 434 17-9 20
20 Long Beach State 366 20-4 23
21 Southern California 312 14-10 19
22 Colorado 198 15-11 21
23 Kansas State 136 20-5 22
24 Oklahoma 91 17-7 24
25 Santa Clara 67 20-7 NR


Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: Ohio 58; Duke 49; Pittsburgh 40; Creighton 38; Utah 34; Hawai'i 29; Western Kentucky 28; Oregon State 16; LSU 15; Alabama 13; Marquette 8

Three teams mentioned on only one ballot for a total of 14 combined points.

Dropped Out: Duke 25

Next Poll: November 17, 2014

AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Week #10 Poll: November 10, 2014
Womans Volleyball
November 10, 2014

Rank      School (First-Place Votes) Total Points 2014 Record Previous Rank
1 Tampa (44) 1195  26-1  1
2 Minnesota Duluth (4)  1157 28-1  2
3 Concordia-St. Paul  1098  24-4  3
4 Colorado School of Mines  1004  24-2  5
5 Southwest Minnesota State  925 20-8  6
6 Nebraska-Kearney  904  25-3  7
7 Wayne State (Neb.)  824  24-5  8
8 Colorado Mesa University  806  24-3  9
9 BYU-Hawai'i  778  19-5  4
10 Wheeling Jesuit  736  32-3  10
11 NW Nazarene  714  23-2  11
12 Wingate  604  28-2  12
13 Washburn  568  23-5  13
14 Florida Southern  549  22-5  16
15 Western Washington  518  19-6  14
16 Grand Valley State  482  22-4  17
17 Central Missouri  416  20-8  19
18 Ferris State  345  20-5  22
19 Palm Beach Atlantic  304  28-3  21
20 Armstrong State  280  25-2  15
21 West Texas A&M  265  30-3  23
T-22 Cal State San Bernardino  220       18-6       18
T-22 Metro State  220  21-5  20
24 Alaska-Anchorage  168  20-4  25
25 Truman  108  25-3  24

Others Receiving Votes and listed on two or more ballots: Rockhurst 85; Sonoma State 50; Central Washington 48; Central Oklahoma 35; West Florida 28; Winona State 27; Indianapolis 17; Regis 16; Dixie State-Utah 15; Point Loma 15; Fresno Pacific 14; Northern State 14

8 teams mentioned on only one ballot for a total of 58 combined points. 

Dropped Out: 

Next Poll: November 17, 2014

Will South, Eden take girls volleyball regionals 
Billies post strong fifth-set comeback

By Owen O’Brien SPECIAL TO THE NEWS Buffalo News
November 8, 2014

Melissa Postek and Kelsey Stasiak embraced each other with tears running down their faces Saturday.

The two junior volleyball players had just been through one of the toughest matches of their lives. And when her team needed her most, Postek gave one of her finest performances on a volleyball court.

Williamsville South defeated Honeoye Falls-Lima, 25-22, 12-25, 25-17, 22-25, 27-25, Saturday in the Class B Far West Regionals at Lockport High School in front of an estimated 300. Earlier, Eden never trailed in sweeping Cazenovia 25-14, 25-18, 25-17 in Class C.

Potsek led the Billies with 20 kills – including three-straight kills in the fifth set when Will South trailed, 18-13, to bring the set to within three. She also had the final kill of the evening to clinch Will South’s first trip to the far West Regionals.

Postek struggled to even put into words what the moment meant for her.

“It’s an amazement that we did this,” Postek said after a long delay.

And it certainly didn’t come easy for the Billies.

After taking the first-set 25-22, HFL recorded the first eight points of the second set. Will South dropped this set 25-12.

“Everybody realized that wasn’t the end, we had more games to play,” Postek said. “If we kept fighting, we would get it.”

After the final point, Will South students in attendance ran onto the court and celebrated with the team – regardless of how hard security tried to stop them.

Seniors Madison Clark and Jessica Miller added 18 and 16 kills, respectively. Junior libero Annalise Hoffman had 34 digs and senior setter Kim Dunkleman had 34 assists in the victory.

It all came down to the final match, which featured eight ties. The Billies lost the lead at 6-5, and never gained it back until the score was 26-25.

“Absolutely unbelievable,” said head coach Tom Sproull. “It’s as dramatic as they can make it.”

State tournament appearances are nothing new for head coach Stephen Pierce and Eden volleyball, the Raiders have won the last five state titles. But for him, this one is different.

Eden starts three sophomores and an eighth-grader. As opposed to previous seasons, he said there’s no “big-time, Division-I” players. The team has many new players and returning players in expanded roles from previous seasons.

“Previous years, we’ve always counted on certain main players, but this year, it’s not as much like that,” said senior Kailee Ballou. “This team really had to come together and work hard.”

Ballou knows what it’s like to play under pressure. She’s started for Eden since her freshman season and knew this year, her contributions would go beyond the court.

“When I first started on varsity in ninth grade, I was really shy and looking toward the captains, but now I was like I need to be a captain,” Ballou said. “At first, I was a little shaky, but then I knew I needed to lead this team on our way to States.”

Ballou had 14 kills in Eden’s victory. Sophomore Sam Burgio recorded 16 kills.

The third set between the teams was much closer than the previous two. Cazenovia pulled the set to 19-17 before Eden finished the match on a 6-0 run. Sophomore libero Molly Brier aced three of Eden’s final six points.

Will South and Eden advance to the State Championships in Glens Falls next weekend.

East Season Ends at Regionals
Girls volleyball

Buffalo News
November 8, 2014

The most successful girls volleyball season ever at Williamsville East came to a close with a 3-1 loss to Pittford-Sutherland-V in the Class A Far West at Gates-Chili. Carly Shifflet had 17 kills and 18 digs, Natalie Berrafato had 30 assists and 12 digs, and Lexi Novak 14 kills, 23 digs in the loss by scores of 19-25, 25-22, 19-25 and 18-25.

“First regional, first sectional title for Williamsville East. We’re really proud of the season. that’s for sure,” said East coach Scott Wright. “We have a mixture of people leaving but the two kill leaders, Carly Shifflett and Lexi Novak, will both be back.”

In Class AA, Penfield defeated Clarence in straight sets, 25-19, 25-22 and 25-22.

Portville (16-2) moved on by defeating Batavia Notre Dame, 25-21, 25-16, 21-25, 25-21, in the Class D regional also at Gates Chili. Shaina Griffin had 23 kills and 22 digs, Lydia Lukomski 15 kills, 8 aces and 32 digs and Taylor Lee had 23 assists and 7 kills for the Panthers.

Hamburg, Lancaster ousted by Section V schools 
Close losses in two sets trouble for Bulldogs

By Erich Neuhaus SPECIAL TO THE NEWS Buffalo News
November 8, 2014

It’s heartbreak again for the Hamburg boys volleyball team in the Division II Far West Regionals.

After the Bulldogs held leads late in both the first and second games, Section V’s Victor showed its resolve to take both games, and followed it by easily taking the third, sweeping Hamburg, 26-24, 33-31, and 25-17, at Orchard Park High School Saturday.

“This was a mirror image of last year,” said Hamburg coach Brian Carroll, who mentioned his team had a late first-game lead and tight second game last year before Victor captured the wins. “They just closed the games out better. That’s just the way it is.”

Hamburg had a 22-20 lead as standout Zach Yerington’s block put the Bulldogs’ large, enthusiastic crowd in a frenzy. But Victor battled back. A two-point service run by Colby Upham knotted the score at 23 before a Kyle Donahoe kill and a Yerington kill attempt sailed out to give the Devils the first game. 

The second game yielded even more chances for Hamburg to close out the game.

Victor only took three services with the lead before 25-25, and Hamburg even had leads of 30-29 and 31-30, but both times Victor broke the Bulldogs serves before executing a three-point rally with kills by Colin Mahan and Colin Steele, who was called for a violation at 25-25 to keep Hamburg alive, to win the second game. 

“They had to play a perfect game, and they tried too hard,” Carroll said about this team’s service game. “They got tight.”

Yerington, who will attend Ohio State next fall, had some powerful spikes throughout the match, but they were trumped by Mahan’s timely kills. Mahan, who recently signed with Loyola University in Chicago to play volleyball, contributed 18 kills in the match. 

“He was good and you have to be able to see guys like that all year if you want to be able to stop it,” Carroll said. 

Hamburg’s season ends at 18-8, while Victor (22-1) will try for its fourth state title since 2010. 

In Division I, Lancaster saw what is most likely the best team in the state in Section V’s McQuaid Jesuit. 

McQuaid (22-0), which has won three of the last four boys volleyball state titles, rolled to a 25-12, 25-18, 25-20 win.

“I told them to stay loose, which they didn’t,” Lancaster coach Jason Stang said with a laugh. “I was trying to let them know, just let it out, and play without fear.”

Lancatser (23-5) seemed to loosen up in the third game, where they erased an 11-6 deficit and closed within 18-17, but McQuaid was too much in the end. 

“I told them, ‘Let’s show them who we are here’” Stang told his players heading into the third game. “We made so many of our own mistakes that it was too much to comeback from anyone who we would’ve played. It still wasn’t perfect, but when their confidence is running high, and they don’t play nervous we play a totally different game.” 

Jay Baumann and Kenny Rudz each had eight kills for Lancaster, while Charlie Siragusa’s nine kills led the Knights.

Clarence girls keep composure, beat Frontier to win Class AA volleyball crown
By: Melissa Brawdy | Sports Hamburg Sun
Saturday November 8, 2014

Composure is the word of the year for the Clarence girls volleyball team.

Wednesday night’s (Nov. 4) highly competitive game was no different as the Red Devils beat the Frontier Falcons 3-1 to win the Class AA Girls Volleyball Championship.

“We have the word composure,” Clarence coach Michael Meyer explained after the match. “And I think they maintained their composure, which was great. I was really proud of how composed they stayed.”

In the first set, Clarence and Frontier traded leads back and forth all the way to the end before Clarence won the game 25-23. In the second set, Clarence led 22-16 near the end, but Frontier made a comeback and scored six unanswered points at the end to take the game 25-13.

But like Meyer said, the Red Devils never lost their composure. They won two more close sets 25-20 and 25-21 to take the match.

“Frontier played unbelievable tonight, and we had to weather the storm,” Meyer said. “We never got flustered. We never gave up, and we just kept coming back, and I’m very proud of them for that.”

Frontier coach Debby Schruefer also mentioned the competitiveness of the match while acknowledging that both teams played great.

“I think it was an incredible match,” she said. “Two very competitive teams. Clarence did an outstanding job of running their offense, getting us out of system. Just a lot of solid attack, counter attack.”

Both coaches wanted it known that it was a total team effort on both sides to make the match as competitive as it was.

“The great thing about volleyball is it really is a team sport,” Meyer said. “You really need all six, all seven, all ten playing.”

After mentioning Taylor Kaznowski and McKyla Brooks as key players in Frontier’s effort, Schruefer wanted to talk about the rest of the team and how they’ve played this season after losing seven starters to graduation after last season.

“We talk a lot about it’s all about team,” Schruefer said. “You can’t do it with just one person or two. You need everyone, and these kids have done that. We were the defending 2013 champs, and we graduated seven starters. So these kids, they stepped it up big time this season. They have no reason to hang their heads.”

Meyer also gave credit to his entire team’s effort, even stopping one of his players as she walked by to reassure her how important her role had been.

“Those people don’t always get their names in the paper, but [players] like Lauren Barnes and Maddie Christopher and Karley King in the back row all came up huge for us,” Meyer said. He mentioned Meghan Neelon (17 kills) and Gabbi Pacatte (18 kills) as key players but still emphasized the importance of the team.

“They don’t get set unless Lauren passes the ball and Maddie sets the ball and Graycie [Enderby] is running her backsides and we got our middles going.”

The Red Devils did all the right things to earn the win and be named Class AA champions.

“It’s not a surprise,” Meyer said when asked what worked for Clarence tonight. “We set the outside a lot. We set a lot of fours and fives. We’re a pin heading team, and when we needed big kills our big players came up. We also played great team defense. I thought we passed great.”

And, of course, Clarence stayed composed throughout the match. 

Eden to defend state championship pedigree with youthful, talented group
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Saturday November 8, 2014


Sam Burgio, who was essential to Eden’s 2013 state title run and NFVB 15-1s national title, is one of Eden’s go-to attackers as a sophomore. Photo by Dave Eckhardt.


As autumn is to leaves falling from the trees in the northeast, Stephen Pierce and the Eden girls volleyball team are to state tournament trips. 

The Lady Raiders punched their 14th straight ticket to the NYSPHSAA tournament with a victory in the Class C Far West Regional over Cazenovia (Section III) on Saturday, Nov. 8.

Still, this win was far unlike the rest.

Pierce rosters the youngest team he has coached in quite some time with only four seniors and plenty of underclassmen taking on large roles. Some of them are go-to players even. So when the match point hit the floor at Lockport High School, what’s usually a been-there done-that attitude was replaced with plenty of excitement for many of the Raiders who are either new, or are experiencing it from a different point of view.

“People can say it’s not new, but it’s new to a lot of these kids,” said Pierce, whose squad is looking for a sixth-straight state title. “Some are on varsity for the first time. Others are in a big role for the first time. So I want to allow them to have that new excitement. That new feel.”

Kailey Ballou — who recently committed to Daemen College — and Bri Tutuska are Eden’s co-captains and lead a senior class that includes Claire Czajka and Carly Nasca. They have received much help from junior Meghan Ballou, sophomores Sam Burgio, Molly Breier and Alyssa Durski and even eighth grader Peyton Basinski.

A roster filled with returning state champions and even a national champion indeed features talent unmatched by most programs, but with the departure of players like his nieces, Kendall and Lainy Pierce (Penn State), and Heather Feldman (Gardner-Webb), everything this year’s team at Eden has been able to accomplish is unique.

“Even though, ok, yes, I’ve been there so many times, I’m especially proud of this group,” Pierce said. “We’ve been fortunate the last few years to have some big time, real advanced, D-I leaders, including two of my nieces. These seniors are great players, but they’re not these players that are coming in with this pedigree ... ‘Oh this player has been a D-I player since she was in eighth or ninth grade.’ This is a really young group, and for them to achieve this, I’m pretty proud of them.”

Burgio, who was a member of the Niagara Frontier Volleyball Club 15-1 team that became the first travel club volleyball team from New York State to win a national championship this summer, notched 16 kills in Eden’s 3-0 win over Cazenovia. Co-captain Ballou had 14 kills while Pierce rotated Nasca, Basinski, Tutuska and Meghan Ballou up front to adjust to the height the Lakers presented as Danielle Tedesco and Molly Carges gave the Section III representatives more than 6 feet of height at the net.

“Against Southwestern (in the Section VI Class C1 championship), we really struggled blocking, and Carly is an example of a senior who has maybe not been a starter much, but we really needed her to provide basically one thing, which was to solidify our block,” said Pierce. “She did a great job in that. Peyton is a little better offensively, so when we were serving and they were going to swing first, we had our best blockers out there. When they were serving and we had to swing first, I’d bring Peyton in to handle the ball a little better.”

Southwestern gave Eden a scare after claiming the first game of the C1 finals. The Raiders went through the entire postseason without giving up a set to the opposition in their state title run last fall. There was much to be excited about when they won C1 with a 3-1 decision, but the girls were a lot calmer when they joined hands after a sweep of Cattaraugus-Little Valley/Ellicottville when the stakes were higher in the C crossover game.

“I think it was because [Southwestern] was such a close game and we lost the first match,” said Durski, who had eight service aces in the win that advanced Eden to regionals. “We knew we had to pick it up, and winning that meant a lot.”

Burgio had 16 kills and Tutuska added four blocks as Eden returned to its dominant self against Western New York opponents on Nov. 6.

“We were picking up a lot of stuff balls right in the middle that were dropping,” said Tutuska, who recently committed to Bucknell as a track and field athlete. “We were letting all of them drop [against Southwestern].”

Megan Cassidy and Hannah Cialone have moved up from JV to help Sam Logan, Sara Hooper, Angela Cala, Carly DiNardo and the rest of the Raiders on their quest for a sixth straight state title.

The NYSPHSAA tournament will begin on Nov. 15 with pool play and the semifinals. The finals will be played on Nov. 16, all at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Eden has won seven of the last eight NYS championships and 11 of the last 14. Having already helped to set the high standards of what is possibly the most decorated high school sports program in the state during their careers on varsity, the Raiders will go as far as seniors Tutuska, Nasca, Czajka and Kailey Ballou take them.

“The one thing about when you build a program is the coach actually has to do less because most of these players, who are juniors and seniors and some sophomores, they learned from those kids who were juniors and seniors when they were little,” Pierce noted. “They taught them how to train hard, how to compete, how to handle pressure...

“The older players really teach the younger ones. I don’t have a lot of rules. They know how to be on time. They know how to dedicate themselves.”

Hamburg spikers successful defend Section VI Division II championship
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Saturday November 8, 2014


The Hamburg boys volleyball team celebrates its sectional championship victory over Eden on Nov. 5. Photo by Joe Valenti.


It was Hamburg that left Eden’s gymnasium just a few weeks ago with a loss when the Bulldogs fell to the Raiders in a non-league boys volleyball match.

The Raiders were on a run in October, claiming tournament titles at Lockport and Orchard Park before ending the regular season with a victory over Canisius — a program that recently won its 15th straight Monsignor Martin Athletics Association championship.

But Hamburg was still the defending sectional champion.

Eden and Hamburg met in the final on Nov. 5 at Sweet Home for the Section VI Division II championship. The Bulldogs understood that they would have to put on their best performance of the season if they wanted to repeat, and they believe they did.

Hamburg continued its impressive play throughout the postseason with a victory over Eden in straight sets to win back-to-back Section VI titles. As lopsided as the teams’ earlier-season meeting was, the Bulldogs were the aggressor this time around, winning their sets 25-17, 25-19 and 25-15.

“We played our best volleyball tonight and that’s what we had to do,” said senior Zach Yerington, who is heading to Ohio State University next fall. “We had to play our game, we couldn’t miss any serves, we couldn’t hit any balls out of bounds and we had to block them, because they’re a good hitting and passing team.”

Hayden Herc, Shane Smith, Cole Overhoff, Collin Rigley and Declan Pierce – who is committed to Penn State in 2016 – led a Raider team with high hopes for a championship after sweeping through ECIC III, but every time the team seemed to make a run, Hamburg came right back with one of its own.

“They separated with three or four [points], we were back and closed it, and before you know it they scored four more,” said Eden head coach Robert Pierce. “We just didn’t have our game tonight, unfortunately.”

The first set was dominated by Hamburg but Eden tied Game 2, 18-18, before the Bulldogs ended the set on a 7-1 run. It was 13-9 in the third before Hamburg built on its lead to sweep the contest.

Yerington, who registered 25 kills, alongside Doug Horbachewski and Bryan Camp were essential in blocking for Hamburg. Ryan Dils continued his showing of precise passing to help his hitters make plays, and JV call-up Jon Gordner had five kills in his varsity debut as what head coach Brian Carroll likes to call him, their “secret weapon.”

“The offense was in sync,” said Dils. “We tried to mix it up because last time they blocked us a lot, so I just wanted to move the hitters around and mix it up so they didn’t know it was coming. I felt like we were in sync and our hitters knew where I was going with the ball.”

Drew Hesse, Lorenzo Carney, Josh Plarr, Ben Wrzesinski, Calvin Nowicki, Jesse Brockman, Connor Basinski, Mitchell Mason, Mike Seggio and Jake Schlegel helped Eden throughout another decorative season.

• • • 

The Bulldogs ran into a familiar opponent in the Far West Regional. Victor represented Section V and has captured state championships in three of the previous four years.

The Blue Devils met Hamburg on Nov. 8 at Orchard Park High School after defeating the Bulldogs in last year’s regional, which was a tight 25-23, 25-23, 25-21 victory for Victor. This year was just as close, with Hamburg falling again to the Blue Devils in straight sets, 24-26, 31-33, 17-25.

Hamburg had a 22-20 advantage in the first set and traded leads back and forth before falling in the second. The Bulldogs could have been the team up 2-0 going into a deciding third set, just as last year.
“The thing is this is a mirror image of last year,” said Carroll. “We had a lead in Game 1 and they amped it up. We had a lead in Game 2...it was back and forth. This is almost the same story as last year.”

Led by senior Collin Mahan, who won MVP honors at last year’s state tournament, Victor was just too much in the end as Hamburg tried to make adjustments in Game 3, using 18 guys throughout the contest, including Austin O’Shei, David Edie and Tom Hiff, but the Blue Devils were too much in the end.

“We rotated our lineup to try to get a matchup that we wanted to get to maybe stop one of their hitters,” Carroll explained. “I should’ve just stayed with what we had going. We were up 30-29 and we had a lead in the first game, so I should’ve went with what we had going. If I went with that, then the third game would’ve been like [the first two]. That’s on me.”

Will Wood, Thane McGarry, Jake Storey, Jack Lillin, Matt Touris, Dan Gunning and Alex Andrzejewski all played a part in Hamburg’s sectional championship run.

“This is a hell of a team,” Carroll said of Victor. “I’m not saying we should’ve beat them because if we should’ve beat them then we would’ve beat them, but they just closed the game out better.”

Eden, Williamsville South are volleyball section champs
Raiders extend their title reign
November 7, 2014

LOCKPORT – It was business as usual for Eden and a landmark win for Williamsville South at the Section VI girls volleyball championships on Thursday night.

Eden swept Cattaraugus-Little Valley/Ellicottville in three games to win their 15th straight Class C title while Williamsville South won its first ever girls volleyball title in a three-game sweep of Albion in the Section VI Class B championship. 

Eden (30-5-4) had little trouble with the combination of schools fielding a team together for the first time. The 25-14, 25-12, 25-14 win over the Timberwolves saw Eden trail just once after a service error that started the second set. Two points later, they were off and running to another state tournament berth.

“I think we played really well,” said sophomore Sam Burgio, who had 16 kills in the win. “We really clicked as a team.”

State champions the last five seasons, Eden got strong efforts from sophomore Alyssa Durski (eight aces) and senior Bree Tutuska (four blocks) on Thursday.

“I was very pleased with the way we moved tonight,” Eden coach Stephen Pierce said. “I thought they seemed energized and more relaxed than we were Monday night.”

Catt-Little Valley/Ellicottville (18-5) was simply overmatched by the Eden offense.

“They controlled play right from the start,” Timberwolves coach Joe Crandall said. “They beat us. Flat out.”

After defeating Starpoint in the B-1 final on Saturday, the Billies cruised in the overall B final, winning 25-8, 25-16, 25-14, to clinch their first ever sectional title in girls volleyball. The Billies dominated from the start, with their “big three” of seniors Madison Clark, Jessica Miller and junior Melissa Postek hitting big against the Eagles defense. 

“That was our plan: to pass well enough that we can run three options every time,” Williamsville South coach Tom Sproull said. “And they did.”

Clark had 13 kills and 18 assists to lead the Billies (16-5) on the outside while Miller had 10 kills, 19 digs and two blocks hitting from both sides of the floor.

Postek had 10 kills and 17 digs for the Billies, who won it all in their first year as a Class B school.

Williamsville South’s dominant display on offense gave Albion little chance to gain momentum and mount a consistent offensive attack. 

“They were hitting more,” Albion coach Ann Capacci said. “It’s a very simple game: Whoever hits the ball onto the ground more first wins. 

“They were more aggressive at the net and they were actually able to turn more balls into hits, more passes into hits than we were.”

Junior Kelsee Soule had four kills, two blocks and 15 digs for Albion (19-2) in the loss, while junior Meghan Hurley added 11 assists, two kills and 11 digs for the Eagles.

Well in control, the Billies’ effort looked almost casual at times, something they said they’ll have to clean up at Saturday’s Regionals back at Lockport High School.

“I think in the second game, I think we got ahead of ourselves because the score was a lot closer,” Miller said. “I think we have a good chance of getting past regionals, but we can’t underestimate them.”

Both winners move on to play in the Far West Regionals starting at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Boys Section VI Playoff Brackets
Buffalo News
November 6, 2014

2014 Section VI Boys Playoff Brackets

Girls Section VI Playoff Brackets
Buffalo News
November 6, 2014

2014 Section VI Girls Playoff_Brackets

Hamburg, Lancaster sweep to Sectional titles in boys volleyball 
Yerington has 25 kills to lead Bulldogs

By Mary Jo Monnin | News Sports Reporter Buffalo News
November 6, 2014


Hamburg’s Zach Yerington looks to fire one past Eden’s Declan Pierce in their match at Sweet Home. Mark Mulville/Buffalo News


You didn’t need to see the purple streamers flying through the air and hitting the gym floor following match point to know who won Wednesday’s Section VI Division II boys volleyball title.

Hamburg, whose school colors are purple and white, was clearly the better team on this night beating Eden, 25-17, 25-19, 25-15, before an estimated 250 at Sweet Home High School.

The Bulldogs’ Zach Yerington, who will play his college volleyball next year at Ohio State, led the effort with 25 kills.

The title is the second in a row for Hamburg (18-7), which returns to action Saturday in the Far West Regionals against Victor. Eden, the No. 1 ranked team in the WNY coming off a win over Canisius, ends 25-4.

The Bulldogs knew they would have to be at their best to knock off Eden. They were. 

“We had to come out with all the energy in the world to beat them. Everything we did was what we wanted to do,” said Yerington, a 6-foot-5 outside hitter. “I think we played the best volleyball we ever played this match. That’s what we had to do. They’re a really good team, that’s why they’re ranked No. 1. I wanted this more than anything this year. I wanted this match so we can go back to regionals and get back what we lost last year.”

Hamburg was in control of the match throughout. The Bulldogs took the lead for good in the first game at 8-7. In game two, Eden managed to tie it at 18-18, but Hamburg dug deep and finished it out with a 7-1 run. The Bulldogs used a pair of 5-0 runs in game three to close it out.

Eden was forced into uncomfortable situations and appeared to play on its heels. 

“They played like returning champions. All their guys played above themselves,” said Eden coach Robert Pierce. “Zach was unstoppable. I would say in every skill they were better than us. I thought we settled down in game two, but it was unforced errors, some missed serves, nets. … That was a little bit of lack of discipline on our part. I think Hamburg was a little hungrier. They were playing forward, we were playing backwards.”

Bulldogs coach Brian Carroll got the matches he was hoping for from veterans Yerington, Ryan Dils, Doug Horbachewski and Bryan Camp. He also cited JV call-up Jon Gordner, who was playing in his first varsity match. The 6-1 sophomore had five kills.

Carroll said a big difference maker was how well his team served and the fact they were rested. He said he devoted Monday’s entire 90 minute practice to serving. “That’s all we did was work on serving and it paid off tonight,” said Carroll, who did post-match interviews while holding his 2-month old daughter Patricia. “They lost their share of matches this season because I think they were fatigued. I gave them a couple of days off, and they came out like it was the first day of the season.”

Division I

Lancaster captured its first title since 2006 with a convincing 25-14, 25-16, 25-14 win over Orchard Park. The Redskins (23-4) will represent Section VI in Saturday’s Far West Regionals at Orchard Park at 7 p.m.

Lancaster beat OP twice in ECIC play, but did so in four games after losing the first game both times. That was not the case in this one. Connor Schultz had eight blocks, Joe Mescall added seven and Tyler Witt had 26 assists.

Lancaster also got another strong match from its libero, Trevor Gabamonte. “Trevor is really solid back there for defense,” said coach Jason Stang, whose team also won ECIC I. “He really kind of settles us down and picks up a lot of balls that are tipped and has very quick reflexes.”

The Quakers end the season 14-11, but had been 7-2 since early October. Martin Hackford led OP with seven kills. Coach Matt Lexner said it was his team’s fifth loss in a row to Lancaster going back to last season.

“I knew coming in here it was going to be an uphill battle,” said Lexner. “We knew what we were up against. They played very consistent, more consistent than they were all year against us, and we couldn’t get anything going.”

email: mmonnin@buffnews.com

Clarence, Will East break through for girls volleyball titles
November 6, 2014

LOCKPORT – Clarence hadn’t won a Section VI championship in girls volleyball since 1988. Williamsville East had never won a sectional title in the history of its girls volleyball program.

That’s not the case for either school anymore.

The No. 1-ranked Red Devils defeated defending Class AA champion, No. 2 Frontier, in four sets on Wednesday night in front of packed gym at Lockport High School to capture the championship. No. 2 Williamsville East swept No. 5 Sweet Home, which beat the Flames in the sectional finals in 2013, in straight sets for the Class A championship.

“I’m just the coach. They’re the champions,” Red Devils coach Mike Meyer said when asked what it meant to bring a sectional title back to Clarence. “Four years ago a bunch of those girls started and we were a 2-12 team. They worked year round, they worked in club, they worked in the offseason. They have stayed focused on getting better for the end of October and that’s been our goal since the beginning of the year.”

Clarence won by set scores of 25-23, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21. Senior Gabbi Pacatte and sophomore Meghan Neelon paced the Red Devils offensively with 18 and 17 kills, respectively. Junior Karley King had 11 kills of her own to round out Clarence’s dominant trio.

“In all honestly, it feels unreal,” Neelon said. “We won nationals this year” in club “and it feels the exact same as that. I never would have thought that we would win sectionals but we worked really hard and we did it together as a team.”

In the nightcap, Williamsville East toppled Sweet Home by set scores of 25-19, 25-22 and 25-11. Sophomore Lexi Novak had a team-high 21 kills while junior Carly Shifflet was close behind with 17.

“After winning twice last year against” Sweet Home “and losing in the sectional finals, it really drove our girls to really want to dominate every time we went out and played,” Flames coach Scott Wright said. “And they’ve been working hard all year for this, for one of our goals. We’ve never had a sectional champion and now they’re the first ones to do it.”

Clarence will take on Section V representative Penfield in the Far West Regionals at 4 p.m. Saturday at Gates-Chili High School in the Rochester area.

“We played them in a preseason tournament at St. Mary’s and they’re very good,” Meyer said. “They’ve been state champions before. They win regionals all the time, so they’re going to be a tough challenge for us.”

Williamsville East will also travel to Gates-Chili Saturday to face off with Section V winner Pittsford-Sutherland, last year’s Class A state champion, at 2 p.m. The Flames played Pittsford-Sutherland earlier in the year at the St. Mary’s of Lancaster tournament, losing two close games.

“I’ve coached for a bunch of years now and I’ve never gotten to Rochester,” Wright said. “I just hope we enjoy the ride because it’s fun to represent Western New York and try to go after the teams in Rochester.”

Canisius beat St. Joe’s, runs title streak to 15 
St. Mary’s girls fight off Nardin in four sets

November 6, 2014

It’s starting to be referred to simply as “The Streak” around the Monsignor Martin Association.

Canisius High School won its 15th straight boys volleyball title in a 3-1 win over St. Joe’s Wednesday night in a packed St. Joe’s gym.

St. Mary’s followed that by continuing its own streak, winning its third straight girls title, 3-1, over Nardin.

For Canisius, the 21-25, 25-13, 25-17, 25-18 triumph extended a winning streak that began before the seniors on the floor entered kindergarten. 

“It just means I’m old,” said Canisius coach Tom Weislo of the streak, which started two years before he began coaching the Crusaders. “They don’t want it to end, and they always talk about not being the team that breaks the streak. So it’s motivation for them.”

The Marauders were ready to defend their home floor early, winning the first game and putting the pressure on the reigning champions. Weislo said St. Joe’s handled the crowd better than his squad in the early game.

The gym was so packed that after the first set two rows of bleachers were dragged between the two gyms for fans to stand on.

“This is an amazing atmosphere,” St. Joe’s coach Mark Anzalone said. “To be able to be a part of this in high school is absolutely outstanding.”

Canisius dominated the second set, bouncing back to win 25-13 with the help of some Marauders miscues. The Crusaders carried their strong play into the third set, a 25-17 win that put them on the brink. 

“After we tied it 1-1 I thought we really stepped up and played well,” said senior Trevor Gooch, who had 16 kills in the win. 

Canisius crept their way to 25 in the deciding set, with junior Daniel Barry leading the left side block for Canisius on the final point. The ball fell on Joe’s side to make it 15 in a row for the Crusaders (26-4).

Canisius fans stormed the court and lifted Gooch on their shoulders as he led the crowd in an ‘I believe that we have won’ chant. Gooch said that, much like winning the Monsignor Martin, storming the court has become a tradition for the Crusaders.

“I didn’t know if it was going to be me or someone else,” he said, “but I knew someone was going to get lifted up.”

Senior Anthony Berardi had 14 kills for the Marauders (12-9) while Jacob Donn added 13 kills for Joe’s, who also lost to Canisius in last year’s championship game. 

In the girls championship, St. Mary’s (42-0-1, 19-0 MMA) needed comebacks in the middle sets to win 22-25, 26-24, 27-25, 25-20 over Nardin (21-3), who pulled out the first set when St. Mary’s couldn’t return a Mary Marusza serve.

The Lancers fought off four game points in the second set and stormed back for a 26-24 win capped by a thundering Ashley Drzmala kill.

Nine straight Lancers points tied the third set at 19 before overcoming a Nardin game point with three straight points to go up 2-1. They finally pulled away in the fourth set, a Katelyn Meyer kill sealing the 25-20 win.

“It’s always worth more when you have to fight tooth and nail for it,” St. Mary’s coach Don Pieczynski said. “I’m so proud of my girls.”

Drzmala had 26 kills and 22 digs in the win for the Lancers, who host the State Catholic championships at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Hamburg and Eden in the boys volleyball class B final
Buffalo News
November 6, 2014


Hamburg's Doug Horbachewski gets the ball past Eden's Hadyn Herc, left, and Calvin Nowicki, right, during the class B match Sweet Home high school Wednesday, November 5, 2014. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Lady Lancers volleyball ride into finals without Meyer
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Lancaster Bee
November 6, 2014


St. Mary’s freshman Summer Slade serves a floater during Monday’s Monsignor Martin League semifinal match against Sacred Heart. The Lady Lancers won easily and played in the playoff championship game on Wednesday. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


The St. Mary’s girls volleyball team was dealt a major blow when senior Leah Meyer injured her right ankle on Oct. 28 against Nardin at Villa Maria College.

Meyer ran a back slide to the pin and her 6-foot-3 frame landed awkwardly into the referee stand.

She was diagnosed with a Grade 3 ankle sprain and had a MRI done on Tuesday. The results show that she does not need surgery, but she will be sidelined for an extended period of time.

“Leah has done more than help put St. Mary’s volleyball on the national radar,” head coach Don Pieczynski said. “She is an outstanding student and teammate. I am proud to have seen her develop into one of New York’s most dominant players.”

The Nardin match was the last regular season game before the Monsignor Martin League playoffs that started on Saturday. St. Mary’s earned the top seed and played against Nichols in the quarterfinals.

The Lady Lancers breezed to an easy sweep 25-7, 25-3, 25-13. Sophomore Caitlyn Meyer, Leah’s younger sister, was moved from the outside to a middle blocker and freshman Summer Slade took over as the second outside hitter option.

“I told Caitlyn you have to play your own game and stay within your abilities,” Pieczynski said.

Pieczynski was able to get all 17 players on the roster in the game, including two that he called up from the junior varsity team.

In the semifinals on Monday, St. Mary’s swept past Sacred Heart 25-11, 25-15, 25-12 to clinch a spot in the championship match.

The finals were played on Wednesday against Nardin at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, but results of the game were not ready at press time.

Since Leah Meyer has been out of the lineup, senior outside hitter Ashley Drzymala has been on a tear. Against Sacred Heart, she registered 17 kills.

Throughout the two playoff games, Drzymala has been hitting at a .400 clip.

“She has been pounding balls and has picked up her game to the next level,” Pieczynski said. “She has the pressure to be the go-to player and she has stepped up huge for us. Her and Leah are best friends, so she’s playing for herself and for Leah. Ashley is playing lights out, you can see it in her body posture that she’s a very determined girl.”

Also stepping up big has been senior Shelby Strausbaugh and junior Jessica Kranz in the back row.

“Their passing and defense has been excellent,” Pieczynski said. “They have kept us in system all season and their defense been exceptional.”

Overall on the season, St. Mary’s features a 41-0-1 record. The only “tie” they have this fall is a split against Nazareth Area High School (Pennsylvania) 25-17, 20-25 at the Garden City Invitational in New Jersey on Oct. 11.

The Lady Lancers are the top ranked team in New York State according to maxpreps.com and they are ranked No. 29 in the country by prepvolleyball.com.

Pieczynski puts more stock in the latter poll and said he wants to eventually move up inside the top 20.

“Those are big teams across the country. We started off in the 80’s and now we are 29,” he said. “It’s uncharted water, nobody from Western New York or New York State has ever been that high. A lot of that is riding on the reputation of Leah, but the rest of our team isn’t too bad either.”

All season Pieczynski has preached a team-first attitude, and now with the injury to their best player, that message is being used more than ever.

“I’m proud of the girls, they are focused and working hard,” Pieczynski said. “It’s all about the team, that’s what we preach in our program, and it’s coming to fruition.”

Lady Wildcats run out of steam in semifinals
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Depew Bee
November 6, 2014


Depew senior libero Brooke Rackley serves a floater during the Class B-2 semifinal match at home against Cheektowaga on Oct. 30. The Lady Wildcats lost in five sets, which ended their season. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


As the top seed in the Class B-2 playoffs, the Lady Wildcats volleyball team had a target on their back.

Depew finished the regular season with a 10-2 record in ECIC Division III, and during the second half of the schedule each opponent gave them a tougher match.

On Oct. 30, the Lady Wildcats were tested tough and wound up losing a five-setter to Cheektowaga in the B-2 semifinals 18-25, 25-12, 25-14, 10-25, 25-27.

The match had some odd swings as the first four sets were blowouts going back and forth, and then game five was decided by just two points.

“That was a tough one, that’s for sure,” Depew head coach Jeff Addesa said. “It’s the way a semifinal should go, right down to the wire and decided by two points at the very end.”

In the first set Cheektowaga was up 24-12 before Depew ran off six straight points to close the gap at 24-18. With that game behind them, the Lady Wildcats came out firing in the second and third sets to totally dominate the match.

But for whatever reason, the roles were reversed again in the fourth set and Cheektowaga easily blew out the Lady Wildcats by 15 points.

“I wish I knew what went wrong,” Addesa said. “We got complacent a little bit and came out with some bad mistakes. We didn’t pass well and that led to either a back row set or sending free balls over. When we didn’t send a free ball, we won those games. But when we gave them a chance to run their offense, they have some strong hitters.”

Depew regrouped and started off the fifth set with a bang. The Lady Wildcats led at the midway point 13-6 when the teams traded sides.

After the switch, Cheektowaga won the first point and then had a server go on a huge run to get them back in contention.

The two teams traded points all the way to the end. At one time, Depew held a 24-23 lead and had a chance to win the match but couldn’t finish it off.

Cheektowaga tied the game at 24-24 and won the next three out of four points to take the match.

“It’s weird because in all of our losses this year, that’s exactly how the match went,” Addesa said. “We lose the first and win the second and third games handily, but then we lose the fourth and fifth.”

Depew’s regular season league losses to Springville and Amherst followed that same pattern.

“We just couldn’t win that five game match,” Addesa added.

A trio of seniors led the Lady Wildcats. Hannah Benson recorded 11 kills, 22 digs and two aces; Hannah Koteras added four kills with 18 digs and two aces; and Sarah Federowicz dished out a season high 34 assists. 

To go with the veterans, Depew’s duo of sophomore middle blockers Brittany Bobeck and Tess Borgosz each registerd eight kills. Borgosz accounted for 14 blocks while Bobeck had eight.

“This was still a successful season for us,” Addesa said. “It’s still probably the best finish in program history. It’s a shame we couldn’t end it with a championship.”

In the B-2 quarterfinals, Depew routed Maryvale 25-7, 25-17, 25-18 on Oct. 28 at home.

The Lady Wildcats passed the ball tremendously and played solid floor defense by digging a lot of balls. Benson led the offense again with 11 kills, two aces and added 10 digs. Borgosz recorded six kills and three blocks.

“The girls just came out so excited and intense,” Addesa said. “To win a game 25-7, you don’t make a whole lot of mistakes.”

Depew graduates five seniors including Benson, Koteras, Federowicz, Melissa Phaphanthong and Brooke Rackley.

Lancaster perseveres past Clarence, earns spot in finals
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Lancaster Bee
November 6, 2014

Each time the Lancaster boys volleyball team played Clarence this year it was a grinding four-set match.

It was no different on Saturday in the Class A semifinals as Lancaster beat Clarence 25-15, 23-25, 25-22, 25-23 at Lackawanna High School. With the win, Lancaster earned a spot in the sectional finals for the first time since 2006.

Head coach Jason Stang was relieved after the win, because even though the first set was a 10-point blowout, the next three games were decided by a combined seven points.

“I think coming out strong right away helped our team with winning the first game,” Stang said. “It’s always harder to come from behind, so that definitely gave us a boost.”

Everything was clicking for Lancaster in the first set. Senior setter Tyler Witt was able to distribute the ball evenly as outside hitters Jay Baumann and Kenny Rudz and right-side hitter Matt Devic each had at least two kills.

Lancaster ended the set emphatically with back-to-back blocks, first by Connor Schultz and Devic and then Schultz and Baumann.

“We almost had a perfect first game. Our sets were right where they needed to be, our passing was sharp and our middles were running well,” Stang said.

In the second set, Lancaster rallied from deficits that included 9-4, 12-8 and 22-19 to give Clarence a run for their money. Rudz was able to get his jump serve working which gave Lancaster a shot at winning.

But the teams switched sides with the match tied up, and Lancaster was back on the side where they routed Clarence in the first set.

The third set was tight the entire way with the teams trading points. Rudz was able to get in a groove on the outside as he registered four kills. Then he continued his strong serving in crunch time at the end to give Lancaster a 23-20 lead.

“I didn’t want to ever give up on our jump servers this year,” Stang said. “Throughout the year I never wanted to tell them to stay down and just put a ball in. I knew we would run into a good team eventually and we need someone who can put pressure on them and do it in any point of the match.”

Senior Joe Mescall teamed up with Devic to get a block and push the lead to 24-20. Clarence did manage to win a couple of points before missing a serve to give Lancaster a 2-1 lead in the match.

The teams switched sides again and before the fourth set Stang gave his team a confidence boost.

“It seemed like nobody could win on that one side and I said lets be the first team to win on this side,” he said. “We win on this side and we go to the finals.” The first half of the set was even as the score was tied at 12-12. Clarence went on a run to give them a 18-14 lead, but then Baumann started getting hot on the outside.

Clarence’s middle blockers were committing to Lancaster’s middles on each play, therefore that allowed Witt to set it out to Baumann who had a one-on-one opportunity for each swing.

Baumann racked up 10 kills in the game and Lancaster was able to tie it at 22-22.

Witt and Schultz came up with back-to-back blocks to give Lancaster a 24-22 lead and match point. Clarence held them off, but then missed a jump serve way long to give Lancaster the win.

“I emphasized that we cannot fall asleep on any play,” Stang said. “If you’re in the right spot then you have a much better chance at making a play.”

Lancaster played against Orchard Park in the sectional final on Wednesday night at Sweet Home High School, but results of that match were not ready at press time.

Town natives achieve accolades for Daemen’s women’s volleyball
West Seneca Bee
November 6, 2014

West Seneca native and Daemen College senior women’s volleyball player Lindsey Nowak was recently named a first team All-American by the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. 

It was Nowak’s second straight selection as a first team USCAA All-American, having garnered the same recognition last season while helping the Wildcats to a 23-10 campaign that included the program’s second consecutive USCAA title.

Nowak, a 5-foot-10 outside hitter, has racked up a team-leading 258 kills through 24 matches, with four matches to play. Earlier this season against Queens College, she recorded the 1,000th kill of her career. To date, Nowak has 1,068 kills in 132 career matches.

Nowak leads the team in hitting percentage (.231) and kills per set (3.27), while ranking second in total blocks (29.0) this season. She has also been more of a presence defensively, adding a career-best 78 digs thus far in 2014.

In addition to Nowak’s All-American selection, fellow West Seneca native and sophomore team member Amber Drzymala was named to the USCAA National All-Academic Team.

Drzymala has taken care of business in the classroom to earn National All-Academic Team accolades, achieving a 3.56 GPA as a business administration major.

To be eligible for National All-Academic Team honors, students must be at least a sophomore and possess at least a 3.5 GPA.

Late surge rallies Quakers into sectional finals 
Boys volleyball

by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Orchard Park Bee
November 6, 2014

It was a tale of two separate games mashed into one for the Quakers in Saturday’s Class A semifinal match against Lockport.

The first half of the match, Orchard Park was a team that committed 17 missed serves and a high number of other varying errors.

As a result, Orchard Park lost the first two sets 21-25, 23-25.

Then it was the opposite starting with the third set and Orchard Park became efficient in all four phases of the game — serving, passing, hitting and blocking.

Once the Quakers got into a rhythm, they won the final three sets in convincing fashion 25-16, 25-22, 25-18 to win the match and earn a berth in the Class A finals.

With how bad the first two games started for Orchard Park, they finished equally as strong.

“I’m just very happy for the kids and the parents,” head coach Matt Lexner said. “It’s a lot of fun to win that way, for them, but not for me.”

Lexner added that he could tell the team was tense, nervous and uptight to start the match. It took them a while before they actually settled down to just play another volleyball match.

“We do have young players out there, but I always talk about weathering the storm a little bit,” Lexner said. “I told the guys they were going to have to weather the storm themselves because they were nervous. It took them a game and a half to weather that storm, but when it flipped, we know what to do we went back to our training. You could almost see the game slow down for them.”

The turning point of the match came at the end of the fourth set. Lockport led 22-20 and had 6-foot-8 senior Jason Donorovich, who will play Division I next year, at the serving line.

Donorovich hit his jump serve wide left out of bounds to make it 22-21.

On the next play Orchard Park senior outside hitter Martin Hackford got blocked, but the Quakers covered it and kept the ball in play. Hackford got another opportunity at a swing and buried it for a kill to win the point and tie it up.

After Orchard Park won the following point to take a 23-22 lead, the Lockport setter tried to dump the ball over on two, but Hackford was ready for it and made the block giving the Quakers a two-point lead and game point.

Orchard Park ended the game emphatically by junior setter Spencer Eagleton and senior middle blocker Jordan DeRosiers combining on a block.

“When [Donorovich] missed the serve, we were already on a roll and we drove it right to 25,” Lexner said. “We had some fortunate matchups at that time and I think Lockport got stale as much as we executed. Anything can happen there, they are the defending champs, but that momentum clearly carried us for game five.”

The Quakers dominated the fifth set and completely took Lockport out of its rhythm. In that game Eagleton dished out 11 assists, while Hackford and junior outside hitter Jason Manley each recorded four kills. 

The point where everyone in the stands could sense that Orchard Park was on its way to winning came on a kill by DeRosiers to give the Quakers a 13-9 lead.

Orchard Park ran a perfect middle attack and DeRosiers had no block up. He crushed the ball right into a Lockport defender’s face in the five-spot. 

The teams switched sides after the point and Orchard Park outscored Lockport 12-9 the rest of the way.

“We talked all year about getting the ball to the middle and having a balanced offense,” Lexner said. “When DeRosiers hit the Lockport kid in the face at the turn, those are invaluable plays.”

Lockport has two main players on their team that control the ball for the majority of the time — Donorovich and 6-3 senior Brad Schneider. Together, they get to swing at the ball probably close to 60 percent of the time.

One of the main differences in the match was that those two players were strong early on, but the Quakers limited them in the later stages.

“It’s hard for a kid in high school to shoulder that many sets,” Lexner said. “Eventually you’re going to miss, and they had nowhere else to go.”

Meanwhile, the Quakers were much more balanced on offense as they spread the wealth around. Manley led the team with 20 kills while Hackford added 17. DeRosiers had six kills. Eagleton dished out a total of 53 assists.

Orchard Park played against Lancaster on Wednesday night at Sweet Home High School for the Class A championship.

Results of that match were not ready at press time. 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

Lady Quakers’ run ends in semis 
Girls volleyball

by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Orchard Park Bee 
November 6, 2014


Orchard Park senior Shaye Swiatek, left, sets a ball to the outside while freshman Sadie Joba runs a fast middle attack against Clarence on Oct. 30 in the Class AA semifinals. The Lady Quakers lost the match, ending their season. Photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


It was a tough go for the Orchard Park girls volleyball team in the Class AA semifinals on Oct. 30 as they traveled to Clarence.

Clarence has been the top team in Western New York all season, and they proved to be too strong for the Lady Quakers again by winning 25-9, 25-11, 25-21.

Serve and serve reception turned out to be one of the main reasons why Orchard Park struggled. The Lady Quakers had a hard time passing Clarence’s fast moving float serves.

“Our girls were there but reacting to the ball and not prepared for it,” head coach Greg Lardo said. “The girls were getting balls chipped off them and we needed to be a little quicker to the ball.”

Lardo said that he wanted Orchard Park to have a 2:1 ratio of aces to errors while his team was at the serving line. But instead, the Lady Quakers registered zero aces and had nine errors.

Orchard Park’s inability to consistently pass Clarence’s serves allowed Clarence to make many long runs in the match. That resulted in the lopsided scores of the first two sets.

“It came down to not being able to receive serve and side out in a timely fashion,” Lardo said. “They were getting six, seven, eight points in a row. We were way off trying to side out and stay with them.”

After the first two sets, Lardo told the girls a comeback was going to be difficult but not impossible.

The Lady Quakers vastly improved in the third game and even held a 13-9 lead.

“When we did settle down and do the things we worked on, we were successful,” Lardo added.

But Clarence’s fire power got them back into the game and they took a 23-21 lead. Orchard Park missed a serve on that point, and then being down 24-21 was too much to dig out of.

The good news was that Orchard Park scored more points in the third set than the first two combined.

“It was nice to see a team fight to the end and show some chara cter,” Lardo said. “A lot of teams down 2-0 would pack it in and go through the motions, but we fought hard.”

Orchard Park graduates seven seniors which include Shaye Swiatek, Olivia Jacobs, Riley Moll, Molly Hennessy, Annika Thomas, Shannon Tatay and Donnett Hickson.

“They were following a lot of good players ahead of them, but it was good to see with the zero to little varsity experience we had, finish close to .500 in the division and win a playoff game,” Lardo said.

Will South, Albion make Class B final
Buffalo News
November 5, 2014

From the very start of the season Williamsville South girls volleyball coach Tom Sproull believed he had a team capable of a special season. He was right.

The Billies won the Section VI Class B-1 title Tuesday night by winning over Starpoint, 25-17, 25-13, 25-19, at Lockport High. South will face B-2 winner Albion for the overall class title at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Lockport.

It was the third time this season that South had swept the Spartans. The first two were in ECIC II play where the Billies went 10-4. “Again we were led by our big three of Haley Muehlbauer, Madison Clark and Melissa Postek,” Sproull said. Clark is the setter when on the back line but also moves to outside hitter. Muehlbauer and Postek are outside hitters.

“This is the most talented group I’ve ever coached,” said Sproull, who is in his sixth season at South. “The girls are just playing a lot better team volleyball. The sky’s the limit because they’ve come together as a team. That and being positive leads to better results.”

No. 2 seed Albion swept Cheektowaga, 25-9, 25-19, 25-16 in the B-2 final after sweeping through the Niagara-Orleans League season with a 12-0 record. No. 4 Cheektowaga had advanced by upsetting No. 1 Depew in five sets. Kelsee Soule led the Purple Eagles with 7 kills, 11 digs, 2 aces.

Albion swept Dunkirk and East Aurora to make the final. 

Albion has had a successful run in the sport in recent years, but this year’s team is extremely young. The Purple Eagles won the N-O championship last season and advanced to the sectional semifinals.

“There’s only two starting seniors on the team,” said coach Ann Capacci. They are Sara Millspaugh and Olivia Neidert.

East boys volleyball’s season ends in semifinals
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
November 5, 2014

Williamsville East’s boys volleyball team saw its season come to an end with a 12-25, 15-25, 17-25 loss against second-seeded Hamburg in the Section VI Class B semifinals on Thursday.

“We played them tough,” East coach Mike Braunscheidel said. “We were able to take away their big hitter but they went to their other three hitters so they were more versatile. We did not have the volleyball players that they have.”

Braunscheidel noted the blocking and hitting of Cort Williams and the back row play of Dylan Cicero. 

The Flames opened its postseason with a 25-13, 25-14, 25-22 win over Depew in the prequarterfinals on Oct. 28.

“It was an overall team win,” Braunscheidel said. “They had no answer for blocking our middles of Alex Grano and Cort Williams. Zach Feller’s serving was instrumental to help us win the first and second games.”

East finished 9-3 in ECIC II and 13-7 overall. The seniors are Cort and Kyle Williams, Cicero, Feller, Pat Irving, Matt Millace and Aaron Park. The team’s graduating class is 26-12 over the past two years. Since Braunscheidel took over as coach five years ago, East is 53-39 for a 74 winning percentage. 

“I think we’re ready to take the next step into being one of the more known programs in the area,” he said.

Team awards went to Pat Irving and Mike Shanahan (co-MVPs); Kyle Williams (most improved player); Williams and Grano (coaches award); and Flames award (Cicero and Irving). 

Williamsville North 

Hamburg also eliminated North, seeded 18th, in the Class B prequarterfinals, 18-25, 25-22, 20-25, 21-25.

“It was a highly competitive match,” North coach Mike Minnuto said. “In the end, they were a couple of points better than we were.”

Noah Chojnacki recorded 10 kills. Minnuto also noted the play of Maceo Jack and Dylan Lambert.

North opened with a three-game win over West Seneca East in a qualifier on Monday, Oct. 27. Chojnacki and Jack each recorded eight kills.

North finished 9-9. Lambert, a three-year starter, Jeff Calderon, Dean Penman, Jackson Collis and Mitch Schuler, are seniors, but Minnuto returns six starters. 

Williamsville South 

One of the goals this season for the Williamsville South boys volleyball team was to reach the Section VI final.

The Billies’ goal fell short as they were upset by West Seneca West, 16-25, 23-25, 25-23, 21-25, in the Class B prequarterfinals on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

“We had a lot of trouble passing,” South coach Thom Knab said. “By not passing well, we could not get our offense going. And we had trouble putting up a good block to stop their big player, Cameron Bartus.”

Senior Christian Graziano led the Billies with nine kills. Senior Ryan Nigro added six kills. Junior Joe Zanelotti posted 36 assists.

Knab also noted the play of senior libero Braedan Gillman for his defense in the back row.

South finished 14-3, which included repeating as ECIC Division II champions and winning its own tournament.

Seven of the team’s 12 players are seniors, including four starters: Graziano, Nigro, Gillman and Paul Jager. Graziano led the team with 190 kills. The team returns Zanelotti, who led the team with 80 aces, 434 assists, 858 sets, serving percentage and total serves, and was second in kills with 190. Gillman led South with 219 digs and Shawn Barbalato paced the team with 162 blocks. 

Sweet Home 

The 12th-seeded Panthers saw its playoff run end with a 23-25, 25-21, 14-25, 21-25 loss against fifth-seeded Lake Shore in the Class B prequarterfinals on Oct. 28.

“The first game could have gone either way,” Sweet Home coach Rich Cicero said. “We had six missed serves and it cost us.”

The Panthers trailed 20-10 in the fourth game and lost 25-21.

Cicero noted the play of outside hitter Connor Heald and middle blocker Mike Belluz.

Sweet Home opened the postseason with a three-game win over Iroquois in the Class B qualifier over 21st-seed Iroquois.

Sweet Home finished 9-9 overall and 6-6 in Class B.

“At the start of the year, we could not mount an attack,” Cicero said. “By the end of the year, we were consistent and gave us a chance to be in some games. It was probably one of the biggest improvements that I have seen in one of my teams that I have coached.”

Heald, Belluz, Mitchell Meza, Wesley Caligiuri, Josh Willson and Mike Lepertine are seniors.

East, Sweet Home to meet in section final rematch
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
November 5, 2014


Carly Shifflet of Williamsville East, right, pounds a kill in the Lady Flames’ four game win against Williamsville North in a Section VI Class A semifinal on Thursday.

The Williamsville East and Sweet Home girls volleyball teams must both be experiencing déjà vu.

For the second consecutive year, the teams will vie for the Section VI Class A title. The final is set for 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Lockport High School.

Sweet Home beat East for the title last year after losing twice during the regular season. East won both regular-season meetings this season.

“It was one of our goals to get back there all year,” East coach Scott Wright said. “I think the girls are happy that they attained that goal. We’re going to have to control their middles and play our roles and continue to all buy into what we are doing.”

Both teams reached the final by winning semifinal games on Thursday. East, seeded second, downed Williamsville North, seeded third, 25-13, 25-22, 15-25, 25-15. Sweet Home, seeded fifth, upset top-seed North Tonawanda, 25-22, 25-8, 18-25, 25-23.

Katie Topolski of Williamsville North sets during the Lady Spartans’ four-game loss to Williamsville East in the Section VI Class A semifinal on Thursday.

The victory over North avenged East’s only loss of the regular season. East is 17-1.

“They made us play some good volleyball,” Wright said. “They are a really good defensive team. We had to play some good volleyball to come out on top.”

Between games three and four, Wright said he talked to the team about settling down and playing with confidence and they responded well in the fourth game.

North had 22 hitting errors throughout the game.

“We came out tight and could not seem to relax and let the game come to us,” North coach Keith Hopkins said. “We made some errors that weren’t typical of what we normally do. We missed a number of serves throughout the match. They didn’t miss any. We were not accurate with where we wanted to go with the serve as we needed to be.”

East junior Carly Shifflet and sophomore Lexi Novak combined for 41 of the team’s 48 kills, recording 22 and 19 kills, respectively.

Senior Natalie Berrafato added 37 assists and 16 digs.

Other notable players aiding with the defense included junior Sam Mendelsohn (23 digs); Novak (21 digs); senior Bridget Sleap (20 digs); and Shifflet (19 digs).

East also committed only two ball handling errors and missed one serve.

Senior Lauren Schreiner led North with 14 kills. Junior Noelle Gulick added seven digs. Senior Andrea Kiely handed out 28 assists. Senior Kailey Terrance made 24 digs.

Sweet Home (14-4) controlled the tempo of the first two games against North Tonawanda, fell behind in the third game and came back strong in the fourth game.

“They are a strong team but they could not handle the power out of our middle and we neutralized their biggest player, Gabby Hanson, on the outside,” Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said. “Our floor defense was very efficient and we served tough at the net.”

Junior Rachel Reusch led the way with 24 kills, 10 blocks and three aces. Senior Victoria Rigler added 25 digs and junior Claire Hiwiller handed out 35 assists.

East opened its postseason with a 25-14, 25-7, 25-13 win over seventh-seed Niagara-Wheatfield. Shifflet (10 kills, 14 digs), Novak (12 kills) and Berrafato (27 assists) led the offense.

Mendelsohn (12 digs) and Sleap (9 kills) led the defense.

Sweet Home opened its postseason with a 25-18, 25-18, 25-19 win over fourth-seed Grand Island in the quarterfinals on Oct. 28.

“We knew it would not be an easy match but we were confident that our offense was stronger than theirs and as long as we executed what we normally do we were going to be fine,” Martin said. “We definitely took control of the tempo of the match right off the bat. We got off to big leads in all three games, played good defense and put pressure on their serve receive.”

Reusch recorded 17 kills, five blocks and six digs. Senior Emily Carver added nine kills and three aces. Hiwiller added 25 assists and 11 digs.

The winner faces Rochester at 2 p.m. Saturday at Gates-Chili High School. 

Williamsville North 

The Lady Spartans opened the postseason with a 25-13, 25-20, 25-15 win over 11th-seed West Seneca West in the quarterfinals on Oct. 28. Schreiner recorded 11 kills. North finished 15-11-1 and lose 14 years of varsity experience with the loss of seniors Schreiner, Terrance, Kiely and Katie Topolski. 

Williamsville South 

In Class B-1, the top-seeded Lady Billies downed eighth-seeded West Seneca East, 25-13, 25-11, 25-12, in the quarterfinals on Oct. 28 and fourth-seeded Iroquois, 25-21, 25-19, 25-8, in the semifinals on Thursday.

South recorded a 92 serving percentage, 39 kills and 13 aces against West Seneca East.

The team’s sideout percentage against Iroquois increased from 41 percent in the first game, 68 percent in the second game and 78 percent in the third game.

South’s hitting percentage in the third game against Iroquois was 46 percent.

South faced sixth-seeded Starpoint in the B-1 final on Tuesday at Lockport High School, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

St. Greg’s girls volleyball wins tourney
Amherst Bee
November 5, 2014


The St. Gregory the Great varsity girls volleyball team won the Immaculata Academy Elementary School Volleyball Tournament, which was held Oct. 25-26. Members of the team include, from left, first row - Hannah Tudor; second row - Ciera Darrington, Leah Hapeman, Claire Skinner, and Catie Grable; third row - Natalie Rodas, Judy Anne Spira, Rachel Steffan, Christina Spira, Siobhan Ryan and coach Karin Ryan.


The St. Gregory the Great varsity girls volleyball team were the champions of the Immaculata Academy Elementary School Volleyball Tournament, which was held Oct. 25-26.

In pool play on Oct. 25, the team, consisting of eighth-graders Natalie Rodas, Claire Skinner, Judy Anne Spira and Rachel Steffan, and seventh-graders Ciera Darrington, Catie Grable, Leah Hapeman, Siobhan Ryan, Christina Spira and Hannah Tudor defeated Saints Peter and Paul of Williamsville 25-5, 25-13; Queen of Heaven 25-9, 25-13; and St. Mary’s Elementary (Lancaster), 25-6, 25-14. 

The following morning, the team, seeded first, defeated St. John Vianney in the semifinal game 25-10 and 25-9. The team then defeated Nativity of Our Lord (Orchard Park), 25-20, 25-10, to clinch the championship.

Siobhan Ryan led the team with 39 aces (serving 75 of 79), 16 kills and four digs.

Rachel Steffan (23 aces, eight digs, seven kills); Leah Hapeman (11 aces, dig); Catie Grable (10 aces, two digs); Hannah Tudor (nine aces, two digs); Clare Skinner (four aces, two digs); and Judy Spira (three aces, six kills, two digs) also contributed.

Clarence Boys volleyball team’s year ends with semifinal loss to Lancaster
Clarence Bee
November 5, 2014

Lancaster’s boys volleyball team was just a little bit better than Clarence’s in Saturday’s Section VI Division I semifinal, as the Red Devils bounced back from a tough first set to give Lancaster all it could handle in its 3-1 loss.

Clarence “made a couple of minor adjustments” following its 25-15 loss in the first game, coach Kevin Starr said, and that led to the Red Devils playing Lancaster much closer in the following three games — including their 25-23 win in game two.

Clarence took Lancaster down to the wire in the final two games, losing the third by just three points and the fourth by a mere two.

“We had a great battle against a great team, and we did everything but win,” Starr said. “They just had more weapons than we did. All season long, Lancaster has been dominating the competition by doing everything well. But if we’d gotten a couple more breaks, we’d be moving on to the sectional final. Lancaster deserves all the credit in the world for beating us on a day when the way we played would have been good enough to beat just about anyone else.

“It’s hard to see the big picture after such a disappointing loss, but we were able to win all year long despite more games missed due to injuries and illness than I’ve ever seen,” Starr continued. “This was a great team — one of the best I’ve ever coached — and it’s hard to accept that we’re done.”

Senior setter Matt Dempsey finished his career with 36 assists in his final match, becoming the first player in Clarence history to go over 1,000 assists in a single season. Senior outside hitter Tommy Ecker and sophomore outside hitter Henry Payne each had 16 kills, and Payne also missed just one serve on the day in 14 attempts, which gave him 28 successful serves out of 30 attempts in Clarence’s two sectional matches.

Clarence reached the semifinal round by easily topping Frontier, 25-20, 25-11, 25-15, in what Starr called the Red Devils’ “best-played match of the year.” Dempsey continued to successfully get the ball to Ecker (13 kills) and Payne (12 kills) to finish with 28 assists on the day.

Payne served for 12 points on the day, missing just one serve in 16 attempts, while junior Ben Janzow was also on with his jump serve, scoring nine points and having a 100 percent serve percentage — which Starr acknowledged is “rare with a jump server, since it’s such a ‘risk-reward’ proposition.”

“Frontier is a very good team, but we played our best match of the year that night and dominated them from start to finish,” Starr said.

Clarence Girls volleyball tops OP in ‘A’ semi
Clarence Bee
November 5, 2014


Gabbi Pacatte dives to keep the ball alive during the Lady Red Devils’ 25-9, 25-11, 25-21 victory over Orchard Park in a Section VI Class A semifinal Thursday. Photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Clarence’s girls volleyball team will be looking to end a 26-year sectional title drought in Lockport at 6 tonight when it faces second-seeded Frontier in the Section VI Class A championship game.

The Lady Red Devils, who received a bye to Thursday’s semifinal round by virtue of their top seed, were the night cap of a Clarence volleyball doubleheader Thursday; they defeated fifth-seeded Orchard Park, 25-9, 25-11, 25-21, following the boys’ 25-20, 25-11, 25-15 quarterfinal round win over Frontier two hours earlier.

Maddie Christopher served 17 times — and recorded four aces — in the first two games alone to highlight the Lady Red Devils’ serving prowess on the night. Karley King and Melissa Ratzel also had important serving runs, according to coach Mike Meyer.

Christopher also had 15 assists for the Lady Red Devils, whose “great serve receive and great defense led to efficient offensive play,” Meyer said.

“We came out serving very well in both of the first two games,” Meyer said. “The girls were anxious to get back on the court after finishing their regular season more than a week before, and they turned in a solid performance.”

Meghan Neelon had 13 kills to guide Clarence’s offense, followed by Gabbi Pacatte’s seven and King’s six. King, Neelon and Pacatte also combined for 31 digs. 

Lauren Barnes “played great defense” with seven digs and “also passed very well in serve receive,” Meyer said. Graycie Enderby “contributed several key kills and blocks.”

“Focusing on ourselves is the message I’ve been giving the girls these last couple of weeks,” Meyer said. “We believe that if we play the way that we are capable of that we’ll be competitive with whoever we face. I don’t think the girls feel pressure to win, which is great. They just want to play to the best of their abilities, because if they do that, they feel they give themselves the chance to win no matter what.”

That attitude could just be what Clarence needs to edge the defending Class A champion to earn its first sectional title since 1988. The teams played a pair of competitive matches — both won by Clarence — during the regular season, and the Lady Red Devils’ second conquest of the Lady Falcons gave them their first undefeated record in league play since the late 1980s.

“It will definitely be a great contest,” Meyer said in the days leading up to the final. “Once again, the girls can’t wait to get out on the court and compete. We’ve had different girls rise up and be leaders on a nightly basis this season, underclassmen and upperclassmen, and I think that has helped us succeed this year. It’s definitely something we’re hoping can help us when we take them on against Wednesday.”

(Reporter Jason Nadolinski contributed to this article.)

Thunder volleyball reaches playoff semifinals
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Ken-Ton Bee
November 5, 2014


Mount St. Mary senior Natalie Short serves a floater during Monday’s Monsignor Martin semifinal match against Nardin that was held at St. Mary’s of Lancaster. The Thunder won the first set, but wound up losing the match in four games. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


The Mount St. Mary’s girls volleyball team started Monday’s Monsignor Martin League semifinal match with a win, but couldn’t sustain it to earn a berth in the finals.

The Thunder entered the tournament seeded third and matched up against No. 2 seed Nardin in the semifinals. Mount St. Mary won the first set 27-25, but then wound up losing the next three games 17-25, 17-25, 23-25.

Heading into the match head coach Brittany Dodge said the key was to stay in system on offense.

“Our ball control was awesome and we were in system most of the match,” she said. “However, we forced several errors that turned the momentum throughout the match and made it difficult for us to finish.”

In the first set, the Thunder was able to keep Nardin from making any large runs and that allowed them to steal the game. 

Down 2-1 in the match, the Thunder came out strong in the fourth set and went on a big serving run to take a 10-point lead. Seniors Julie Fleming and Elise Kreuz got into a rhythm in the front row and took control of the net.

But later in the game, Nardin turned the table and went on their own big serving run to get the Thunder out of system and eventually win the match.

Fleming almost recorded a triple-double as she had 12 kills, 13 digs and seven blocks. Kreuz had a solid night with 10 kills, 14 digs and two aces.

With the loss, Mount St. Mary takes third place in the Monsignor Martin with a league record of 12-4 and an overall record of 13-5.

The Thunder graduates six seniors which include Fleming, Kreuz, Natalie Short, Maria Pedini, Nicole Buffamonti and Jessica Anstett.

In the quarterfinals, the Thunder took care of Cardinal O’Hara in straight sets 25-11, 25-9, 25-22 on Saturday. 

Dodge was able to play her entire roster, including a couple of girls that were called up from the junior varsity team. She added that the Thunder were able to serve strong and put balls away consistently which turned out to be the difference.

Mount St. Mary’s only missed three serves in the entire match.

“The biggest thing that we talked about is consistency no matter who we are playing A lot of our girls have been jump serving at the end of the year and that has kept us in a lot of matches,” Dodge said.

Fleming registered five aces at the line. She also added seven kills and three blocks. Kreuz had five aces and also recorded six kills and nine digs. 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

Blue Devils drop playoff match to Orchard Park
Boys volleyball 
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Ken-Ton Bee
November 5, 2014

It was a tough draw for the Kenmore West boys volleyball team as they matched up against Orchard Park in the quarterfinals of the Class A playoffs on Thursday.

The fourth-seeded Quakers defeated the No. 5 seed Kenmore West in a sweep 25-9, 25-18, 25-11.

“We knew they were a good team; they’re ranked No. 5 in Western New York,” said Kenmore West head coach Ryan Hogan. “Their outside hitters are strong and they do have two middles that are both good blockers and hitters with quick attacks. Their setter was probably the best one we’ve seen all year; he put the ball spot on every time.”

The Blue Devils struggled blocking and that was one of the reasons the scores were lopsided. According to Hogan, 15 times the ball landed on the Blue Devils’ side after having a block up.

After struggling mightily in the first set, the Blue Devils regrouped and put together a more competitive second set. Then in the third, Kenmore West tied the score at 9-9 but then wound up losing 16 of the next 18 points, which finished the match.

“They had a great run at the end, and with their experienced team, that was too much,” Hogan said. “They hit the ball well all over the court and didn’t make many mistakes or errors.”

Even though his team lost in a sweep, Hogan said it was still one of the best matches Kenmore West played all season. The Blue Devils struggled all year with making too many errors, but against Orchard Park their total number of errors decreased quite a bit.

“We had three great practices in a row and the kids went into that match believing they were going to win,” Hogan added. “Our kids fought through it and played hard until the last point.”

Kenmore West will be graduating five seniors, including Nick Atallah, Dave Blumberg, Joe Gardon, Tom Massey and Tyler Steubechen.

Atallah finished with a team-high 14 digs in the match and was selected as a Niagara Frontier League Third Team All-Star. Hogan said that he finished his career with the best match he played all season.

“This senior class did an excellent job with leadership skills,” Hogan said. “We had five kids on the team that never played before, and those younger guys learned a lot from the seniors. The leadership from them is going to help our program for the next two years. The younger guys saw the work habits from our seniors this year and hopefully they’ll continue that same habit.” 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

Western New York 2014 Boys Top 10 Poll - 11/4/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Eden (11) 110 2
2. Canisius 99 1
3. Lancaster (1) 91 3
4. Hamburg 87 4
5. Orchard Park 70 6
6. Clarence 65 5
7. West Seneca West 38 9
8. Lockport 36 7
9. St. Joe's 29 8
10. Grand Island 19 NR


Western New York 2014 Girls Top 10 Poll - 11/4/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Clarence (8) 80
2. Williamsville East 70
3. Sweet Home 57
4. Williamsville South 54
5. Frontier 53
6. Williamsville North 48
7. North Tonawanda 44
8. Hamburg 27
9. Grand Island 15
10. Orchard Park 12
Also receiving votes: Albion, Starpoint, Lockport, Depew and Lancaster.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60
2. Eden 54
3. Nardin 48
4. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 30
5. Portville 28
6. Randolph 25
7. North Collins 21
8. City Honors 19
9. Chautauqua Lake 14
T-10. Falconer 12
T-10. Immaculata 12
Also receiving votes: Southwestern, Mt. St. Mary's and Forestville.


Section VI cites Hall of Famers
Buffalo News
November 4, 2014

Six coaches, an administrator and two former athletes comprise the inaugural class of the Section VI Hall of Fame that will be inducted Friday at the Van Miller Club in Ralph Wilson Stadium. The dinner will be at 6 p.m. with ceremonies to follow.

The class includes: the late Bob Barrows, Orchard Park baseball coach; Dr. Ron Black, Akron administrator; Jaqueline Brummer, Sweet Home gymnast; the late Drake Francescone, Buffalo City Schools coach; Daryl Johnston, Lew-Port football; Sally Kus, Sweet Home volleyball coach; Edward Leibinger, Tonawanda swim coach/official; the late Gene Masters, Grand Island football/baseball coach; and Dr. Stacey Schroeder-Watts, Grand Island track and field.

It’s a Canisius-Joe’s final in volleyball
Buffalo News
November 4, 2014


Griffin Schmit had nine kills in the Crusaders boys volleyball semifinal victory over St. Mary's of Lancaster. Mark Mulville/Buffalo News


That late season loss to Eden in a nonleague match was a tonic that helped No. 1 ranked Canisius get ready for the Monsignor Martin boys volleyball playoffs. Back on their game, the Crusaders advanced to the finals with a 25-3, 25-13, 25-10 win Monday night over St. Mary’s of Lancaster at St. Joe’s.

The four-set loss to Eden “most definitely did help. We had a good week of practice after that, and we’re excited to be playing for the championship,” Canisius coach Tom Weislo said. “We hit .680 as a team tonight. For sure, we were very efficient.”

Griffin Schmit had nine kills and Trevor Gooch had eight in Monday’s win. Setter Charles Desmond had 28 assists.

Canisius will face host St. Joe’s, which swept St. Francis in the other semifinal, 25-15, 25-9 and 25-17, as senior hitter Anthony Berardi had 10 kills.

“It’s always a challenge playing there,” Weislo said of playing for the championship on St. Joe’s home court. “There’s always an amazing atmosphere.”

Missing star Leah Meyer, who suffered stretched ankle ligaments last week, St. Mary’s advanced to the Monsignor Martin girls finals by defeating Sacred Heart, 25-11, 25-15 and 25-12, on the Lancers’ home court. 

“We’re thriving, not surviving,” without Meyer, St. Mary’s coach Don Pieczynski said. “We don’t have Leah Meyer, but nobody else does either. We’re playing pretty well without her.”

Ashley Drzymala led the Lancers with 16 kills and Bailey Dolegowski had 27 assists.

St. Mary’s will face No. 2 seed Nardin for the championship at St. Joe’s at 8 p.m. on Wednesday after the 6 p.m. boys championship match.

Section VI volleyball

Eden rebounded from a first set loss and defeated Southwestern, 24-26, 25-9, 25-23, 25-22, to win the Class C-1 title and earn a place in the overall sectional Class C championship game against C-2 champion Cattaraugus/Little Valley or Falconer. Winner of the last five state Class C championships, the Raiders got a good test from the Trojans.

“I was not really surprised,” said Eden coach Stephen Pierce. “Southwestern has a very veteran team, mostly seniors. … We started out very tight. We were moving well and a lot of balls were dropping.”

Pierce gave a lot of credit to setter Alyssa Durski. “She stayed calm, getting the ball to the right hitters to kind of help us get through it,” Pierce said.

Sam Burgio had 19 kills and three aces while Kailey Ballou (14 kills) and Meghan Ballou (nine kills, three blocks) also stood out.

Falcons to defend Section VI title against Clarence
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Tuesday November 4, 2014


Junior Kirstie Hall (3) and freshman Cami Duggan (10) have helped Frontier set up a rematch against Clarence in the Class AA final. Photo by Dan Hickling.


There was no telling how good the Frontier girls volleyball team could be this fall as it saw plenty of seniors from last year’s squad, which captured the program’s first sectional championship since 2010, walk across the stage this past June.

The Falcons saw athletes like All-WNY first team selection Syd Rojak, who is now playing the sport at Division I Marist, leave the team to a new crop of seniors and plenty of youth to fill new roles and defend their sectional title.

Edging out some wins too close for comfort and falling in other winnable games early on aided the team’s thoughts on how good it could be. And then there was a disappointing loss to Clarence that put the talents of this year’s roster to the test.

The Falcons played Clarence twice, losing both contests. But it was the first meeting that went to five games. Clarence came out victorious, but only by two points.

Frontier has had its head held high ever since.

“The first time we played Clarence, we went there and played them to five games and lost by two,” said senior co-captain Taylor Kaznowski. “That’s when I really felt like we could be good this year and we could beat any team. We went to five with them and even though they won, we still could’ve won and it was so close.”

It was a true barometer game for the Lady Falcons, for if they want to repeat as sectional champions, they will have to meet up with Clarence one more time.

Second-seeded Frontier and top-seeded Clarence both advanced to the Section VI Class AA final, which was played on Nov. 5 at Lockport High School.

Information about the contest was not available at press time. However, the coaching staff at Frontier should be very confident in its team’s chances to repeat as the sectional champion after watching the Falcons perform in the first meeting against the top-seeded AA team.

“I think that was a big turning point,” said Frontier coach Debby Schruefer, who is joined by Mark Scudder and Rick Mihalik on the coaching staff. “I think that’s when the kids really began building confidence in themselves that they can play. They played outstanding floor defense, good ball control, played well together as a team and didn’t give up.”

The Falcons would go on to lose in the second regular-season meeting against Clarence later in the year, but after taking the Red Devils to five games on their home court, it will be interesting to see how the two teams fare on a neutral site.

“The game went back and forth, back and forth,” said Schruefer. “We were on their turf, so I was very pleased with the way they played. They put it all together. When they’re firing on all cylinders, good things happen.”

Frontier finished the regular season with a 10-4 mark overall and a 9-3 record in ECIC I despite the loss in talent and leadership to graduation. Two of those league losses came at the hands of Clarence and the third was to Williamsville North.

“We lost so many seniors, but I was surprised in a good way because we came out 9-3 and that’s the same record as last year,” Kaznowski noted.

Frontier played in Lockport, home of the Lions, for the finals. The Falcons defeated the Lions in straight sets in the Class AA semifinals on Oct. 30 to advance to the title game.

Kaznowski recorded 23 assists in the victory while her co-captain, McKyla Brooks, could not be tamed on either side of the ball, as the returning All-WNY first team selection and Stony Brook commit put up 16 kills and five blocks.

Schruefer’s crew is getting healthy at the right time with the reemergence of senior Angela Michels on the front line.

Alyssa Buck, Olivia Nappo and Jackie Dufresne join Kaznowski, Brooks and Michels as this year’s group of senior leaders. Rylee Kryszal, Renee Bartosz and Cami Duggan will be expected to play important roles as the team’s defensive specialists.

MacKenzie Karwas, Emma Booth and Kirstie Hall will be key alongside Jensen Lee and Sam Murray at the hitter spots if the Falcons want to win back-to-back Section VI championships.

“We had struggles and our lineup keeps on changing,” Kaznowski noted. “Angela Michels…she’s a senior and a big blocker. She was out like half the season with an injury so when she came back she’s been a good blocker for us. But overall we’ve had a good season. Can’t really complain.”

Eagles use loss as fuel, win first sectional title in 27 years
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Monday November 3, 2014


Rose (left) and her sisters Angela (4) and Jasmine Filkov helped North Collins win the program’s first sectional championship since 1987. Photo by David Eckhardt.


The race for the CCAA Central division title was one that North Collins could not win after drawing a hiccup in its league schedule before the scheduled matchups between league frontrunner Southwestern. The Eagles were, however, able to use those games for an even larger prize.

Coach Dave Burgstahler and his Lady Eagles fell to Southwestern in both regular-season contests and watched Southwestern capture the league title. But they knew all along that their division foe moved up to compete in Class C for the postseason.

North Collins, a Class D school, earned the No. 2 seed in the Class D2 bracket and did not have to worry about a Southwestern team — believed to be the toughest Section VI team the Eagles had faced all year — spoiling their plans for a sectional championship.

What they learned in those losses to Southwestern helped the Eagles in preparation for their playoff run, which ultimately saw them capture the Section VI Class D2 championship with a comeback victory over top-seeded Panama on Nov. 3 at Jamestown Community College. They recovered from a two-game deficit to win the match, 3-2, earning the program’s first sectional title since 1987.

The Eagles were swept by Southwestern in the first meeting but took the season finale to four games, giving the club high hopes for what was to come in the postseason, concluding in the program’s first sectional title.

“We came out, we fought hard, we took a game… we thought it was good preparation for the playoffs,” Burgstahler said about the second meeting against Southwestern, a team that eventually took a game from state power Eden in the C1 title game.

“For us, we were happy because they had beat us in three games before. At that time we knew we were mathematically eliminated from winning the league. Even though they’re not in our class for playoffs we still wanted to make a good showing and prepare for playoffs.”

Sophomore Angela Filkov set the offense up with 45 assists. Freshman Morgan Mathis recorded 18 kills and senior Arrika Bley put up 12 kills and five blocks.

Junior Jasmine Filkov contributed with 11 kills and seven digs while senior Jenna Keppel put down 17 kills and had nine timely blocks up front.

Ellicottville has been responsible for eliminating North Collins from the postseason the last two years, including the 2012 sectional championship game, which was the Eagles’ most recent championship game appearance before Monday.

The Eagles made the jump back to finals with a win over Forestville in straight sets on Oct. 30.

Angela Filkov had 25 assists and five digs in the semifinal win.

“Preparing for Forestville, we did a lot of stuff on preparing for their middle attacks and stopping and how to deal with their middle blockers,” Burgstahler said at practice the day before the match. “We also know that they have certain positions where they might be weaker passers, so we’ve been practicing on singling those players out and exposing them.”

The postseason began with a straight-sets victory over West Valley in the quarterfinals. The Eagles used fast starts to their advantage and even built a 15-2 lead in the third game.

Flikov had 30 assists over the course of just three games in setting up her hitters for easy points. Her sister, Jasmine, was everywhere, gathering six kills, 10 digs and three aces.

Bley added 12 kills, Keppel had four digs and freshman Courtney Wilson had six digs in the sweep of West Valley, but the last thing they wanted to do was take a team they’ve defeated before lightly.

“We’ve beaten them twice in three. I just know that once you get to playoffs it’s a whole new ball game,” said Burgstahler. “People get nervous. We’re a young team. Who knows what can happen. Each team wants to start out big early. You want to get to five first, you want to get to 10 first, and that’s what we were doing.”

Emily Violanti is the third of three seniors leading a young sectional champion North Collins squad. Riley Bartels and Kim Gick join Jasmine Filkov as the junior hitters.

Freshman Morgan Mathis has shared a huge role in the title run, as well as eighth graders Baylee Romano and Rose Filkov, who has started at libero all year.

The Eagles will play D1 champion Portville, which defeated top-seeded Chautauqua Lake in the finals and defending Far West Regional champion Randolph in the semifinals, in the Section VI Class D crossover game on Thursday, Nov. 6.

“It’s been 27 years since North Collins won a volleyball sectional championship, and this one was no easy feat, but it was well-deserved,” Burgstahler said in an email. “Thanks to all our fans for being there and supporting us last night...the Eagles are playing to be the first team in North Collins volleyball history to win two blue patches in the same season. Be there to witness history in the making.”

Hamburg drops West to set up D-II final against Eden
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Monday November 3, 2014 


Doug Horbachewski secured the front line for Hamburg in the D-II semis win over West Seneca West. Photo by David Eckhardt.


The road to returning to another sectional championship game was a lot tougher than defending champion Hamburg had anticipated after the first two sets of the semifinals.

The Bulldogs dominated Game 1 and Game 2 of the Division II semis against West Seneca West and looked as if they were going to capture the match handily in straight sets.

While West ruined the plans of a Hamburg sweep, the Bulldogs put on a comeback in the fourth set when the match looked as if it was headed to a fifth game to drop the Indians, 3-1, to move on the Section VI Division II championship game.

“They played better and we got tight,” said Hamburg head coach Brian Carroll. “I think the kids thought all the shots they pulled the first two games were going to work, and then when they didn’t work they started to second-guess themselves a little bit. But any athlete would do that.”

No. 2 Hamburg was scheduled to play top-seeded Eden for the D-II title on Nov. 5 at Sweet Home, but results were not available at press time.

Hamburg owned victories of 25-14 and 25-17 in the first two sets before West Seneca West never looked back from a 5-4 lead in the third, winning the do-or-die set 25-20.

Emotions grew on both sides of the net during Game 4 as each team was given red cards. West took a 23-21 lead behind the 6-foot-10 frame of standout Cameron Bartus and seemed to have taken the momentum on its way to forcing a fifth set, but Hamburg battled back behind well-timed blocks and hustle plays from Ryan Dils, Doug Horbachewski and David Edie to go along with ferocious spikes from an angered Ohio State-bound Zach Yerington to end any chances of West running away with the set.

“They’re nervous. It’s one-and-done,” Carroll said about his team’s performance late in the match. “They know that if they make mistakes then they’re done. Then the last game they were down points, but they battled back and played pretty well.”

Edie had 12 digs and Yerington recorded 10 blocks in the win.

The Bulldogs were led by precise passing and timely kills early on as they built leads of 9-1 and 9-3 in Game 1 and 2, respectively, to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.

Brett Widman was able to adjust and by the third game his Indians were in control of the match all the way up to their 23rd point in the fourth set.

“If you’re red hot and you’re on, you think you can’t get stopped,” said Carroll. “Once you get stopped a couple of times, it takes a mental toll on you. And if you get stopped a couple more times you start to second-guess yourself a little bit.”

Dils made a play for a ball that flew out of play when his Hamburg team was down 19-20 in Game 4. He hit the ball back in play from the stands running at full speed, which helped set the offense back up, ending with a spike from Yerington, tying the game 20-20 for what may have been the difference in West tying the match at two games apiece.

Carroll took a few timeouts during the final points of the last set to help calm the team down and set up a defense to stop Bartus.

“I didn’t really say anything. I just told them where they had to go on defense,” said Carrol. “It’s hard to stop a 6-foot-10 kid. He didn’t just hit it hard. He hit it around, over, he had different angles.

“I put a chart out saying where we had to play defense and we got him. The blockers got him and they moved around pretty well, but we dug on the last couple of points which made a big difference.”

Hayden Herc recorded 13 kills and eight blocks for top-seeded Eden in its 3-1 semifinal win over Grand Island, which is ranked No. 1 on the latest WNY Boys Volleyball Coaches Poll. Shane Smith added 15 kills and seven blocks for the winners.

In Division I, No. 6 Frontier fell to No. 3 Clarence in straight sets of the quarterfinals after making the finals in 2013. The Falcons will graduate Jake Gleason, who was an All-WNY selection as a junior.

Eden comes back, claims 16th straight Section VI crown
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Monday November 3, 2014


The Lady Raiders overcame a loss in the first set to defeat Southwestern in four games, earning the program’s 16th consecutive secional title. Photo by David Eckhardt.


The quest to add more postseason plaques to the collection at Eden High School began a little shakier than the girls volleyball team had anticipated during the sectional finals.

A younger Lady Raider team took the stage at Lockport High School against a veteran Southwestern team that Eden met in the Class C finals just 12 months ago in a match in which the Lady Raiders defeated the Amanda Krakowiak-coached team in straight sets after enduring some trouble in Game 1 and trailing early on in the third set.

Fifth-seeded Southwestern found a way to be even more competitive in the 2014 final against the third-seeded Raiders, winning the opening set and having leads late in Game 3 and Game 4, but the state powerhouse was too much in the end.

Eden overcame its youth and its foe’s athleticism and veteran leadership on its way to capturing a 16th consecutive sectional championship, defeating Southwestern, 3-1, to claim the 2014 Section VI Class C1 championship on Nov. 3.

“Southwestern is a very athletic team. They pretty much have their entire starting lineup back, not just from last year, but the last two years,” said Eden head coach Stephen Pierce. “We played them in the finals last year and were able to handle them pretty well but I knew they had a lot of seniors coming back, so any team that has that many with each other from club and high school, they know how to score points.”

Eden is scheduled to play C2 champion and top seed Cattaraugus/Little Valley/Ellicottville on Nov. 6 back at Lockport for the overall Class C title and a spot in the Far West Regionals, which will take place at Gates-Chili on Nov. 8 for a trip to the state tournament.

“The main thing at this point is fine tuning and getting them to relax and play confident,” said Pierce, whose team has been the No. 2 small school on the WNY Coaches Poll all season. “I don’t think I’m stepping out of bounds to say that I think we’re the top C team here, but if you’re not playing confidently and strong, anybody that is pretty good can really go after you.”

Pierce and the Raiders have won the last five state titles as members of Class B and Class C. The 11 state championships form a number unmatched by any other sports team in New York.

Sophomore Sam Burgio, who plays under Pierce on the NFVB 15-1 team that became the first travel club team from New York State to win a national title this summer, led the Raiders with 19 kills and three aces while senior co-captain Kailey Ballou added 14 in the victory.

Junior Meghan Ballou recorded nine kills and three blocks.

After not dropping a single game in sectional play or the state tournament during last year’s title run, the road for a sixth NYSPHSAA plaque began with 24-26 loss to Southwestern in the opening set of the C1 finals.

The Raiders were down much of Game 1 before taking a short-lived 24-23 lead but could not hold on, falling to Southwestern, 26-24.

Eden returned back to form and won the second set with a convincing 25-9 victory as senior co-captain Bri Tutuska scored the match point.

The third set went to Eden in a competitive 25-23 game in which Southwestern had a 22-21 advantage before captain Ballou ended the set.

“Right after the first game…we knew that’s not how Eden plays,” Kailey Ballou noted. “We come in strong and we come in focused and that’s not what we did the first game. We just stepped it up from there and it was our time.”

Game 4 was not any different as the match continued to stay competitive. Southwestern held an 18-16 advantage and tied it at 20-20 before the Raiders took the lead for good. Eden let a ball fly out of play for its 24th point and sophomore Alyssa Durski set up Burgio for the match point after senior Claire Czjaka kept the ball alive with a dig.

With Carley Nasca joining Czjaka, Tutuska and Kailey Ballou as the seniors, and sophomore Molly Breier on the floor as the libero, Pierce’s roster is filled with young talent in juniors Carly DiNardo, Angela Cala and Sara Hooper while freshman Sam Logan and eighth grader Peyton Basinski are also integral parts of Eden’s success.

“The big problem was we’re walking into these playoffs with serious youth and I could see very early on where we call cement shoes,” said Pierce, who broke the NYS record for wins earlier this fall. “There were a lot of tips and rolls and balls literally rolling right past kids and the only thing that moved was their heads to turn and drop to the floor. That happened a lot. Not a lot of adjustments to make for that, you just have to somehow get the kids to stop feeling that inner-panic and just relax and stop playing.”

Pierce believes that his team has defeated the toughest C team it will see in the local bracket in Southwestern and hopes the Raiders will use their familiarity with Cattaraugus, which they played in a tournament earlier this fall, to capture the overall Class C crown and advance to regionals.

Maybe the opening set loss to Southwestern was a good thing for Eden as the Raiders look to learn from their mistakes and continue to compete on a high level the rest of the way.

“The turning point would be when we lost. We were all really upset and we were like, ‘Wow, we have to play harder,’” said Burgio. “We wanted to not only play for ourselves, but we wanted to play for Stephen, our fans and show everybody what Eden is made of.

“Our goal is to go to states and that’s it every year,” she continued. “We want to show everybody that we deserve to go that far.”

AVCA Division I Coaches Week #10 Poll: November 3, 2014
Womans Volleyball
November 3, 2014

Rank School (First Place Votes) Total Points Adjusted 2014 Record Previous Week
1 Stanford (59) 1499 22-0 1
2 Washington (1) 1439 23-0 2
3 Florida State 1358 23-0 3
4 Wisconsin 1314 20-2 4
5 Texas 1254 16-1 5
6 Penn State 1218 22-3 6
7 Florida 1141 18-3 8
8 North Carolina 1052 18-2 9
9 Illinois 1019 18-5 10
10 Colorado State 921 23-2 7
11 Oregon 874 17-5 12
12 Purdue 822 19-5 13
13 Nebraska 772 14-7 14
14 BYU 713 19-4 11
15 UCLA 635 16-7 16
16 Arizona 534 18-6 15
17 Kentucky 528 19-4 18
18 Ohio State 457 16-8 17
19 Southern California 389 13-9 20
20 Arizona State 338 16-8 19
21 Colorado 281 15-9 NR
22 Kansas State 273 20-3 22
23 Long Beach State 206 19-4 24
24 Oklahoma 171 16-6 25
25 Duke 130 17-5 21


Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: Texas A&M 34; UCF 22; Hawai'i 19; Santa Clara 16; Oregon State 14; Alabama 8; Ohio 6; Western Kentucky 6; Creighton 5; Marquette 2 

Six teams mentioned on only one ballot for a total of 28 combined points. 

Dropped Out: Texas A&M 23 

Next Poll: November 10, 2014

AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Week #9 Poll: November 3, 2014
Womans Volleyball

November 3, 2014

Rank School (First-Place Votes) Total Points 2014 Record Previous Rank
1 Tampa (44) 1196 23-1 1
2 Minnesota Duluth (4)  1156 25-1 2
3 Concordia-St. Paul  1098 23-3 3
4 BYU-Hawai'i  960 17-4 5
5 Colorado School of Mines  948 22-2 6
6 Southwest Minnesota State  894 19-7 8
7 Nebraska-Kearney  867 23-3 4
8 Wayne State (Neb.)  760 22-5 11
9 Colorado Mesa University  731 22-3 13
10 Wheeling Jesuit  724 29-3 12
11 NW Nazarene  679 21-2 15
12 Wingate  620 25-2 7
13 Washburn  577 21-5 10
14 Western Washington  536 17-6 9
15 Armstrong State  462 24-1 16
16 Florida Southern  448 19-5 17
17 Grand Valley State  440 19-4 14
18 Cal State San Bernardino  365 16-5 18
19 Central Missouri  356 18-8 21
20 Metro State  329 21-3 20
21 Palm Beach Atlantic  305 26-2 19
22 Ferris State  297 18-5 22
23 West Texas A&M  186 27-3 24
24 Truman  143  23-3 23
25 Alaska-Anchorage  129  19-4 25

Others Receiving Votes and listed on two or more ballots: Rockhurst 68; Central Washington 61; Central Oklahoma 47; Sonoma State 41; West Florida 26; Winona State 22; Dixie State-Utah 15; Missouri Western 15; Regis 13; Fresno Pacific 11; Augustana (SD) 10; Northern State 10; Point Loma 10; Findlay 9; Indianapolis 7;

4 teams mentioned on only one ballot for a total of 29 combined points. 

Dropped Out: 

Next Poll: November 10, 2014

Orchard Park volleyball upsets Lockport
Buffalo News
November 2, 2014

Orchard Park continued its late-season tear in boys volleyball Saturday by topping No. 1 seed and defending champion Lockport in the semifinals of the Section VI Division I playoffs.

It was a well-earned decision for the Quakers who lost the first two sets, then rallied to win in five over the Lions, 21-25, 23-25, 25-16, 25-22 and 25-18. 

Jason Manley led Orchard Park with 20 kills and three service aces. Spencer Eagleton had 53 assists in the grueling match for OP.

The No. 4 seed, Orchard Park will face No. 2 Lancaster in the title game at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Sweet Home. Jay Baumann and Kenny Rudz had 16 kills each for Lancaster as the Redskins advanced by defeating No. 3 Clarence in four sets.

In Division II, Eden dropped the second set to Grand Island but rose up and took care of the Vikings in four, 25-19, 22-25, 25-17 and 25-21. Hayden Herc was strong at the net for the Raiders with 13 kills and eight blocks. Shane Smith had 15 kills and seven blocks.

Eden will face Hamburg in the Division II championship game at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Sweet Home.

Girls volleyball

St. Mary’s of Lancaster survived its first match of the Monsignor Martin Assn. playoffs without star Leah Meyer, sweeping Nichols in three sets, 25-7, 25-3 and 25-23, with Ashley Drzymsls recording 14 kills and Bailey Dolegowski getting 21 assists. The Lancers will face Immaculata or Sacred Heart in the semifinals on Monday at St. Mary’s.

No. 2 Eden dethrones No. 1 Canisius in season finale
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Friday October 31, 2014


Hayden Herc led No. 2 Eden to a victory over No. 1 Canisius on his Senior Night. Photo by Ron Larson.


It was the match that Eden had been waiting for all season.

The non-league regular-season finale between the top two boys volleyball programs in Western New York featured No. 1 Canisius at No. 2 Eden as both programs have been neck-and-neck in the WNY Coaches Poll and in tournaments all season long.

Canisius got the best of Eden in both of the previous meetings at the Clarence Tournament and Eden’s own invitational, but the Raiders remained confident that they were truly the better team when it came time for a full length match on Oct. 27.

Their assertiveness came to fruition in a match that ended after four sets with Eden coming out on top, capturing a come-from-behind victory after dropping the first game and overcoming a deficit in the last set to defeat Canisius, 18-25, 25-23, 25-16, 25-23.

“The confidence came from my seniors,” Eden head coach Robert Pierce said of seniors Hayden Herc, Shane Smith, Cole Overhoff and Jake Schlegel on their importance to the team’s Senior Night victory, “… Our seniors really played among themselves and took it to the next level.”

The triumph should almost certainly flip-flop Eden and Canisius in the next WNY Coaches Poll, granting the second-ranked Raiders the No. 1 spot after downing top-ranked Canisius, No. 4 Hamburg and No. 6 Orchard Park in the final weeks of the season while capturing tournament titles at Lockport and Orchard Park, as well.

“They’ve been talking a lot about how they’re going to beat us on our home court and we personally took that to heart and wanted to make this our Senior Night and get a really big crowd,” said Herc. “Play our best volleyball and show everyone we’re the real No. 1 team and that public schools can still beat private schools.”

Junior Declan Pierce had 19 kills and 17 digs in the win while Calvin Nowicki set up the offense with 59 assists.

Herc held down the middle with 17 kills and six blocks for Eden. Smith added 13 kills and nine blocks.

“We’ve just been playing better and better as the season went on,” Smith said.

Eden fell in the first set before stepping up and taking a tight Game 2 to tie the match at one game apiece.

Game 3 was all Raiders, but head coach Tom Weislo and his Canisius team jumped out early on the hosts in what was a must-win Game 4 for the Crusaders.

Canisius was up 22-17 and controlled a match that seemed certain to head to a fifth winner-take-all set, but Eden put on an 8-1 run to end the match.

“Tonight was a game of matchups,” coach Pierce said. “We started out the way we normally do and then we lost to them four out of five sets that way. So I flipped it so I had a different match, won the next two.

“Then he did the same thing and in Game 4 he had the matchup that he wanted and we were down six…but my seniors said, ‘I don’t think so. We’re going to take this right now.’”

The run was powered by Smith up front with a combination of blocks and tips that helped Eden slowly creep back into the set.

Schlegel’s block pulled Eden to within one and Smith followed with a block of his own to tie the game, 23-23.

“Jacob was a physical force,” Pierce said. “He wasn’t getting us blocks tonight but I told him he was going to get us a big one. And he got it right at the end and really got in the head of their outside hitter.

“Cole, his role was minimalized, but he was instrumental in this win,” coach added. “It’s the little things, the little digs and rallies that kept us going.”

Canisius saw strong performances from juniors Charlie Desmond and Andrew Schake but was unable to take the success it had over Eden in recent tournaments into a regular season match.

“They’re a terrific team and they played particularly well today,” said Canisius head coach Tom Weislo, who has led Canisius to 11 consecutive MMA titles. “Our guys, this was an important game but really for us another game on the schedule. Would we have liked to have won? Yes, but our eye is on the playoff prize. Hats off and kudos to Eden. They played terrific and we weren’t as good as we have been tonight.”

The Raiders ended the regular season with a 22-3 overall record after defeating Canisius and a 12-0 mark in ECIC III to take the division crown and earn the No. 1 seed in the Class B postseason.

“What a great show of high-level volleyball from both teams,” said coach Pierce. “I would honestly say if we played that team again, they might beat us. There is no guarantees when you play against a team that is that well-coached and so balanced.”

Eden was scheduled to open the postseason at home on Oct. 28 against Niagara-Wheatfield and, if the Raiders win, will host a second-round playoff game on Oct. 30. The team is looking to avenge an early exit in 2013 and make a run at the NYS crown.

“We’ve just been getting stronger and practicing harder and we want to show everyone that we’re going to make a real run at the state title this year,” said Herc.

High school roundup (Oct. 31)
Buffalo News
October 31, 2014

Boys volleyball 

In Class A, Andy Fellner had five aces in Lancaster’s quarterfinal sweep of Niagara Falls. Next up is No. 3 Clarence, which won in three sets over Frontier. Matt Dempsey had 28 assists for the Red Devils. Orchard Park downed Kenmore West in three sets.

In Class B competition, Declan Pierce had 13 kills as No. 1 Eden defeated North Tonawanda in three sets. Grand Island and Hamburg also won quarterfinal matchups.

Girls volleyball

Meghan Neelon had 13 kills and Gabbi Pacatti added 14 digs as top-seeded Class AA Clarence won three straight sets from No. 5 Orchard Park.

In other sectional action:

Class A: Sweet Home defeated North Tonawanda while Williamsville East topped Williamsville North – both in four sets – to advance to the sectional final.

Class B-1: Williamsville South, the top seed, cruised to a three-set semifinal win over Iroquois. Next is Starpoint, 3-2 winners over Lake Shore.

Class B-2: Kelsee Soule had 13 kills and nine digs for No. 2 Albion’s three-set semifinal win over East Aurora, while Cheektowaga – led by Kelley Martin’s 12 kills – edged Depew in five.

Lake Shore boys volleyball beats Sweet Home in pre-quarterfinals
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Wednesday October 29, 2014

Lake Shore, the No. 5 seed in the boys volleyball Division II bracket, opened the postseason by defeating visiting No. 12 Sweet Home in four sets on Oct. 28 in the prequarterfinals.

The Eagles will visit No. 4 Grand Island in the quarterfinals on Oct. 30.

Lake Shore was led by Devin Joslyn (15 kills, 3 aces), Mike Roach (10 kills) and Ty Becker (7 kills), who kept the team together after Sweet Home tied the match at one game apiece.

"In the first round of sectionals, sometimes nerves come into play," said Lake Shore head coach John Coyle. "Fortunately Devin started getting it rolling with his serves...and kind of got the momentum back in our favor."

Read the Nov. 6 edition of The Sun for the full story and an update on the Eagles' playoff run.

First playoff victory in six years pushes West win streak to four
Girls volleyball
West Seneca Bee
October 29, 2014

West Seneca West’s girls volleyball team pushed its winning streak to four matches Friday by earning its first postseason victory since 2008.

The 11th-seeded Lady Indians, who entered the Class B bracket having defeated West Seneca East, Nichols and City Honors to close out their regular season, topped sixth-seeded Hutch Tech in its prequarterfinal, 25-22, 25-16, 25-19. Amanda Doster had nine kills to pace the squad, while Lynn Cleversley served up six aces. Abby Hoestermann added five aces for West.

“I kept telling the girls that they only needed one season-defining moment to turn things around, and in our first pretty close set with City Honors, we pushed ahead in the end and were able to close out the set,” coach Matt Todaro said. “That’s when I could see that the light bulb went off and we went on to control the next two sets to win the match, 3-0. Going into the playoff match with Hutch Tech on Friday, the girls knew they could do something special and they didn’t disappoint. We’ve been playing with the passion you need to be successful and we aren’t about to let anybody get in our way.”

West returned to action Tuesday against third-seeded Williamsville North, but information about that contest was not available at press time.

Whichever team comes out of that match victoriously will advance to face the winner of the Williamsville East-Niagara Wheatfield quarterfinal in Thursday’s semifinal round.

Schweickelt, Kaempf grow as leaders
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Wednesday October 29, 2014

As a sophomore, Brandon Schweickelt found himself playing a key role alongside some veterans on a St. Francis volleyball team with high hopes. Unfortunately for Schweickelt and Frannies, he was unable to meet the standards for student-athletes at St. Francis and missed the conclusion of the 2013 season.

Devastated by the news, he took the games he missed as motivation to get up on the right foot and become a model student first and athlete second, and according to his head coach, the changes are paying dividends for both Schweickelt and the Red Raiders.

“Brandon had some trouble in the classroom last year but he’s got his head on straight now. That was a real eye-opening experience for him,” said St. Francis head coach Andrew Lanigan. “I think it affected him a little bit. We had a good heart-to-heart in the classroom.”

Lanigan said that Scheickelt made a promise to stay committed in the classroom and has more than redeemed himself this season.

“He’s ready to work this year,” said Lanigan. “He came in and said, ‘Coach, there’s not going to be any issues this year. We’re going to be proactive instead of reactive this year.’”

Schweickelt is a junior co-captain alongside classmate Jake Kaempf. They lead a Red Raider team that garnered the third seed in the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association postseason and will have a first round bye.

“It’s just a great group of guys,” said Kaempf. “We’re more of a team. We bond a lot, kind of like a brotherhood.”

The pair found themselves under the wings of seniors Tom Duskwitz and Jack Marretti in 2013. They consider the graduates mentors that have helped them get ready for their roles as co-captains this season.

“Last year the two captains were mentors to us because we kind of knew we’d be captains this year,” said Schweickelt.

“We learned a lot from them, watching how they played and imitate what they did,” added Kaempf.

Like Schweickelt, Kaempf is in his third varsity season. Also like his co-captain, he missed a chunk of games earlier in his career. Kaempf missed the end of his freshman campaign due to a broken arm. But he was able to recover and bounce back to help the Raiders on the volleyball court.

“Jake stepped in and was our libero right away,” said Lanigan. “He broke his arm at the end of freshman year right before playoff which kind of put a wrench in our plans. He’s grown into being a leader for us on and off the court. He’s essentially the face of the program here because everybody knows him.”

That brotherhood Kaempf described between each and every one of the Raiders shows on and off of the court, specifically on the defensive side.

“We’re more defensive-minded,” said Schweikelt. “We play tough defense and get kills when we need them.”

Kaempf plays a huge role in their defensive scheme. His teammates rely on him for signals and play calls.

Schweickelt also presents some defensive prowess. He has evolved into a better-rounded player overtime.

“With Brandon, he’s more of a versatile player for us,” Lanigan noted. “He played D specialist that first year, put him on the right for a little bit because he can swing. He set for us, so he’s been all over the place.

“They’re both three-year varsity players. A lot of these guys look up to them. They really are success stories. They both play hockey. And it just shows that you can excel at both sports and inside the classroom.”

No. 3 St. Francis is scheduled to play at No. 2 St. Joe’s in the MMAA semifinals on Nov. 3. Whichever team wins will play the winner of top-seeded Canisius – the No. 1 boys volleyball team in the WNY Coaches Poll — against Cardinal O’Hara/St. Mary’s for the MMAA title.

South boys volleyball defeats East for ECIC II title
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
October 28, 2014


Patrick Irving of Williamsville East bumps the ball during the Flames’ three-game home loss against Williamsville South on Tuesday, Oct. 21.


Williamsville South’s boys volleyball team downed Williamsville East, 26-24, 25-18, 26-24, on Tuesday, Oct. 21, to repeat as ECIC Division II champions. The Billies finished 11-1. East dropped to 9-3.

“A division title was our first goal,” South coach Thom Knab said. “It helped us get a good seed for playoffs [third seed].”

Knab credited his team’s improved passing, more offensive weapons and better defense to help in the victory.

“The first game was neck and neck,” South coach Thom Knab said. “The third game we were down 23-20 and came back to win.” 

Christian Graziano (11 kills) and Ryan Nigro (10 kills) and Joe Zanelotti (36 assists, 4 aces) led the Billies. Knab said libero Braedan Gillman played a strong defensive game in the back row.


Joe Zanelotti of Williamsville South sets a ball during the Billies’ three-game road win over Williamsville East on Tuesday, Oct. 21. The win clinched the Billies the ECIC Division II title. Photos by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


East coach Mike Braunscheidel said the first game came down to a judgment call by the official that swung momentum to South into the second game.

“We put a ball down at 24-23 for the win and we were called for a carry,” Braunscheidel said. “We were never able to regroup and it carried over in the second game.”

In the third game, Braunscheidel said South’s volleyball experience, led by Christian Graziano, was a factor.

“We didn’t have an answer with our blocking for him,” Braunscheidel said. “It was 25-25 and they went outside to him and we could not get a block to stop him.”

Despite the loss, Braunscheidel was happy with the way the team played.

“We were right there,” he said. “Williamsville South is a more established program and I hope to get there eventually.”

Braunscheidel noted the offense from Cort Williams and Dylan Cicero and tough serving from Mike Shanahan and Patrick Irving.

South came up short in defending its title at the Grand Island Tournament on Saturday, losing to Grand Island, 25-15, 23-25, 18-25, in the semifinals.

“In the second and third games, we had trouble stopping one of their big hitters,” Knab said.

South went 6-0 in pool play, beating Niagara Falls, West Seneca East and Kenmore East and then defeating Williamsville East, 25-16, and Williamsville North, 25-17, in the quarterfinals.

Zanelotti was named to the all-tournament team. He recorded 26 kills, 44 assists and 11 aces throughout the day. Other standouts for South throughout the day were: Graziano (29 kills), Gillman (24 digs); Andy Shelton (11 blocks); and Shawn Barbalato (16 blocks).

Knab also said the team’s passing was strong, which he hopes bodes well for sectionals.

South is the third seed and hosted 14th-seed West Seneca West in a Class B quarterfinal on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

East rebounded two days later with a four-game win over Cheektowaga, 25-22, 25-13, 25-27, 25-14, concluding the regular season at 12-6 overall.

At the Grand Island Tournament, East went 5-1 in pool play, beating Kenmore West and East Aurora and splitting games with North Tonawanda. In the quarterfinals, East lost to Williamsville South, 16-25, and beat Williamsville North, 25-17, to advance into the semifinals where they lost to North Tonawanda, 21-25, 26-28.

Williams did not play, which forced Braunscheidel to move Shanahan from outside hitter to middle blocker and Jake Weissert in at outside hitter.

Cicero was named to the all-tournament team for his stellar back row defensive play and unselfishness in the front row.

East, seeded seventh in the Class B Tournament, hosted 10th seeded Depew in the prequarterfinals on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

The winner faces Hamburg or West Seneca East or Williamsville North on Thursday.

North girls volleyball hands East first loss
Amherst Bee
October 28, 2014

Williamsville North girls volleyball team’s final match of the season was a big one, as the Lady Spartans knocked off Williamsville East, 21-25, 25-21, 25-18, 23-25, 25-17 in a 2½-hour non-league home match on Thursday. It was East’s first loss of the season, which fell to 15-1.

“It was a competitive match,” North coach Keith Hopkins said. “There was a lot of intensity. Some of the rallies were long. There were not a lot of easy points given up by either team.” 

Lauren Schreiner recorded a career-high 31 kills, pushing her over 1,000 career kills, and 23 digs. Andrea Kiely handed out a career-high 59 assists.

Noelle Gulick had 14 kills, Lauren Curtis added 10 kills and Kailey Terrance recorded 38 digs.

Tori Novak led East with 27 kills. Laryssa Melynk added 12 kills.

North opened the week with a 13-25, 25-8, 23-25, 19-25 non-league loss at Nardin on Wednesday. Elise Hopkins served 20 straight points in the second game. North had a 22-19 lead in the third game and could not finish. The fourth game was tied at 17-17 and North made some errors.

Schreiner led North with 17 kills. Terrance posted 24 digs. 

Elise Hopkins finished with 23 service points. Gulick added seven kills and Kiely handed out 37 assists.

North (15-10-1), the third seed in the Section VI Class A Tournament, hosted 11th-seed West Seneca West on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

If North wins and East, the second seed, beats seventh seed Niagara-Wheatfield on Tuesday, North would travel to East for a semifinal game at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

Assist record goes to Dempsey in Clarence boys volleyball’s loss to Canisius
Clarence Bee
October 28, 2014

Senior Matt Dempsey dished out 55 assists to surpass Mark Schlabach for the most assists in a single season — breaking a 15-year old record — as Clarence’s boys volleyball team nearly became the first area team to top Canisius this fall.

Instead, the Crusaders were able to leave the Red Devils “angry at themselves for letting a chance to beat the number one team get away from us,” according to coach Kevin Starr, as Clarence came up short in its upset bid by scores of 25-23, 25-22, 24-26, 21-25, 17-25.

Senior outside hitter Tommy Ecker had 20 kills to guide Clarence’s effort, while Payne had 17, and senior David Cummiskey added 14 against Canisius, whose only losses this year came to Section V’s Victor.

“We had Canisius on the ropes, but they deserve a ton of credit for battling back and coming out on top at the end,” Starr said. “Between this match and the semis of our tournament at the beginning of the season, we’ve come closer to knocking them off than anyone else has from around here. That’s a real confidence builder, but to look at the faces of our guys in the huddle after the match, you’d see that they were not satisfied with what might look like a ‘moral victory.’”

Clarence entered the Canisius match hoping to find a rhythm after struggling with some lineup switches in its 21-25, 25-18, 25-18, 25-13 win over Frontier on October 21. The win gave the Red Devils an 8-4 record in league play and sewed up the third seed for Class A in the upcoming playoffs.

Starting senior middle hitters Andrew Danzer and Rob Kuberka were both out for this match, leaving the Red Devils without a true middle hitter — and with senior libero Mason Sebian out with an injury as well, Clarence was down three starters. Starr admitted that he “over-adjusted in the first game” by moving Ecker to the middle, which took away from Clarence’s potent outside attack.

Ecker went back to the outside for the final three games, which allowed Clarence’s offense to click. He finished the game with 17 kills. Sophomore Henry Payne chipped in with 23 kills, with Dempsey dishing out 42 assists on the night.

“We don’t know when Andrew and Rob will be back, so we’re going to have to do our best to cover up our weaknesses and capitalize on our strengths — which is what we’ve done all season,” Starr said. “Frontier is a scary opponent; they finished with just two wins in our league, but if they were in any other league, they’d be fighting for first place.”

Clarence will host sixth-seeded Frontier at 5 p.m. Thursday as part of a volleyball doubleheader that will see the girls square off with the winner of Tuesday’s quarterfinal between fifth-seeded Orchard Park and fourth-seeded Lancaster in their Class A semifinal at 7 p.m. Dempsey has at least one more match to add to his 954 assists on the year, a number which topped Schlabach’s 893 by more than five dozen helpers.

Whichever team wins Thursday will advance to Saturday’s semifinals — at noon at Lackawanna — to face either second-seeded Lancaster and seventh seeded Niagara Falls. Those teams also square off Thursday.

“This is a very determined group of athletes, and they know that we can play with any team,” Starr said. “These kids are ready for a deep run in the playoffs.”

Bulldogs volleyball sweep Blue Devils, season series
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Ken-Ton Bee
October 28, 2014

The Kenmore East boys volleyball team had sweeps on their mind for the rivalry match against Kenmore West on Oct. 21.

The Bulldogs won 25-12, 25-20, 25-18 to sweep both the match and the season series against their crosstown rival.

“It’s important for these guys, they are passionate about winning the East vs. West match,” said Kenmore East head coach Kyle Horvatis.

Heading into the match, Horvatis knew that Kenmore West had improved quite a bit in all facets of the game. But the Bulldogs were just too strong on the serving line, which gave the Blue Devils a hard time to get in system.

“Technically wise, we are a better team but when emotions run high, especially in a rivalry match, it can go either way,” Horvatis said. “I think what we did well was serve to spots and serve to their weaknesses. Plus we tried to hit selectively because they have some pretty good blockers.”

A trio of seniors led the Bulldogs offense. Setter Rob Mol was efficient at spreading the ball around, making it tough for Kenmore West at the net.

He even threw in a couple of dumps while he was in the front row, which added another dimension to Kenmore East’s offense.

“His feet are so fast and he can stop on a dime,” Horvatis said. “With our gym, you never know which way the ball will go off the ceiling, and he got to a lot of balls I didn’t think he could. He even set the ball well enough where we could make an attack.”

Mol’s two main hitters were outside hitters Tom Vancuran and Justin Haeick.

Vancuran has been the Bulldogs main go-to player all season. Plus, he’s versatile enough to block in the middle. Once he lands, he then shifts to the outside to hit.

“He’s transitional in that way and that makes a huge impact. It’s so awesome to have someone who can do that,” Horvatis added.

Haeick has learned how to hit while reaching as high as he can for the ball. Sometimes hitters get caught hitting the ball around their ear, instead of high above their head. That little adjustment can make a large difference in the front row.

Vancuran finished with 12 kills while Haeick registered eight. Mol dished out 25 assists in the win.

With a 7-5 record in the Niagara Frontier League and 10-5 overall, Kenmore East earned the ninth seed for the Class B playoffs. They played against No. 8 seed North Tonawanda on Tuesday, but results were not ready at press time.

Both teams earned the same amount of power points during the season, but Kenmore East became the visiting team after losing a coin flip. They split the season series.

“When we beat them on the road, they had a hard time stopping Vancuran,” Horvatis said. “But they also made a lot of errors. We cant expect them to do the same thing, so we have to be sharp.” 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

Lady Blue Devils defeat Ken East in a sweep 
Girls volleyball

by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Ken-Ton Bee
October 28, 2014

The Kenmore West girls volleyball team had a little extra motivation in beating their crosstown rival on Oct. 21.

The first time these two teams met, Kenmore West won the first two sets but it was Kenmore East that pulled out a victory by winning the next three games.

“The girls were really excited for this match, especially because East beat us at home in a five-set match,” Kenmore West head coach Kelly Strong said.

This time around, Kenmore West once again won the first two sets by scores of 25-17, 25-16. However, they did not allow Kenmore East a chance into the match and finished it in a sweep by winning the third set 25-17.

“The girls really wanted to even the score,” Strong said. “We served really tough, and we have a couple of really strong hitters that they had a tough time handling.”

After the second game, Kenmore East head coach Sean Leaderstorf tried rallying his team to pull off another huge comeback.

“We’ve done it before but it takes everyone’s best effort,” he said. “Ken West dug a lot of balls, and our setter was trying hard to put balls in the right spots, but overall nothing really worked.”

Kenmore East actually had leads to start both the first and second sets, but couldn’t sustain it throughout the full match.

For the Lady Blue Devils, they benefited from a long serving stretch by eighth-grader Sam Veronica, in addition to the strong hitting of junior Dana Mancuso and freshman Abby Borkowski.

“This time we were so intense and focused. Our attitude and positivity was definitely the difference in this game,” Strong said.

Mancuso finished with a team high 14 kills in the match, while Borkowski posted six kills and 16 assists. Senior middle blocker Alyssa Schwartz added seven blocks for the Lady Blue Devils.

The Lady Bulldogs were led by Paige Palmer with eight kills, four blocks and 23 digs.

Kenmore West earned the ninth seed in the Class A playoffs and played against No. 8 Hamburg on the road. The Lady Devils couldn’t carry over the momentum and wound up on the losing side, which ended their season.

Besides Schwartz, the only other seniors that will be graduating is outside hitter Haley Anderson and right-side hitter Tyler Czaikowski.

Kenmore East earned the fifth seed in the Class B-1 playoffs and traveled to Iroquois for the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Results of the match were not ready at press time. 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

Lancers’ Meyer injured 
Buffalo News
October 28, 2014

St. Mary’s of Lancaster should have been celebrating the completion of a 16-0 girls volleyball season in the Monsignor Martin Association on Tuesday.

Instead, the Lancers and coach Donnie Pieczynski were dealing with the possible loss for the postseason of star Leah Meyer, who suffered a freak ankle injury in the three-set sweep at Nardin when she ran into the referee’s stand.

“I hope we have enough fortitude to push through without her. We’ve just got to play a little harder,” Pieczynski said.

Western New York 2014 Boys Top 10 Poll - 10/28/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Canisius (9) 117 1
2. Eden (3) 110 2
3. Lancaster 95 3
4. Hamburg 76 4
5. Clarence 70 5
6. Orchard Park 56 6
7. Lockport 34 10
8. St. Joe's 33 7
9. West Seneca West 25 8
10. Williamsville South 21 9


Western New York 2014 Girls Top 10 Poll - 10/28/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Clarence (8) 80
2. Williamsville East 72
3. Sweet Home 54
4. Williamsville South 50
5. North Tonawanda 49
6. Williamsville North 48
7. Hamburg 39
8. Frontier 38
9. Grand Island 15
T-10. Orchard Park 11
T-10. Lancaster 11
Also receiving votes: Lockport, Albion, Depew and Springville.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60
2. Eden 54
3. Nardin 48
4. Portville 39
5. Randolph 32
6. City Honors 30
7. Mt. St. Mary's 24
8. Immaculata 22
9. Southwestern 19
T-10. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 12
T-10. Chautauqua Lake 12
Also receiving votes: Falconer and Newfane.


Eden Knocks Off Canisius
Buffalo News
October 28, 2014

Eden’s boys volleyball team has been waiting almost the entire season to face No. 1 ranked Canisius after losing twice to the Crusaders in tournament play.

The No. 2 ranked Raiders got their wish and knocked off Canisius in four sets before a rollicking crowd Monday night in Eden. The scores were 18-25, 25-23, 25-16 and 25-23.

“We were all pretty pumped for it,” said Eden setter Calvin Nowicki, who had 58 assists in the match. “The whole school came out dressed in white to support us.”

Eden seemed to be losing control when it fell behind, 21-16, in the fourth set, then went on a 9-2 run to win it. The turning point? “One of our middles, Shane Smith, started to take care of the net,” Nowicki said. “He had two or three blocks and a lot of kills and was really good at the net.”

Smith, a senior, finished with 13 kills and nine blocks. Declan Pierce had 19 kills and 14 digs.

Coming Attractions
Buffalo News
October 27, 2014

The Section VI boys volleyball tournament begins today with five Class B qualifying matches. There are eight prequarterfinals matches on Tuesday and four quarterfinals on Thursday. In Class A, its tournament begins with three quarterfinals on Thursday followed by the two semifinal matches on Saturday at Lackawanna.

The Section VI girls volleyball tournament has quarterfinal action in all classes on Tuesday at the higher seed, all at 6 p.m. All the semifinals are Thursday. The finals are Nov. 3-5 at Lockport.

Canisius nets title
Buffalo News
October 26, 2014

Trevor Gooch earned MVP as Canisius beat Lancaster, 25-19, 25-22, to win the Hamburg Boys Volleyball Tournament.

Griffin Schmit and Charlie Desmond were named all-tournament for the Crusaders. Also making the team was Cameron Bartus (West Seneca West), Zach Yerington (Hamburg), Tyler Witt (Lancaster) and Kenny Rudz (Lancaster).

• In what was an all-NFL final, North Tonawanda beat Grand Island, 25-23, 32-30, to win the 12th annual Grand Island Boys Volleyball Tournament. The Vikings had beaten North Tonawanda in both regular-season matches and also at their tournament, but this day belonged to the Jacks.

GI beat Williamsville South in the semifinals while NT advanced with a win over Williamsville East. NT’s Sam Wezlmrski earned MVP. Making all-tournament were: Brandon Casterline (NT), Michael Podgorny (GI), Mclain Erhard (GI), Joe Zanelotti (Wmsv. South) and Dylan Cicero (Wmsv. East).

Grand Island Tournament
Buffalo News
October 25, 2014


Finals North Tonawanda 25-32, Grand Island 23-30 Semifinals Grand Island 15-25-25, Wmsv. South 25-23-18 North Tonawanda 25-28, Wmsv. East 17-26 Quarterfinals Grand Island 25, Kenmore East 22 North Tonawanda 26, Kenmore East 24 North Tonawanda 25, Grand Island 23 Wmsv. South 25, Wmsv. East 15 Wmsv. East 25, Wmsv. North 18 Wmsv. South 25, Wmsv. North 17 Pool A Grand Island 25-25, Maryvale 13-12 Grand Island 25-25, Wmsv. North 13-14 Grand Island 25-25, Niagara-Wheatfield 10-17 Wmsv. North 25-25, Maryvale 19-13 Maryvale 25-26, Niagara-Wheatfield 10-24 Wmsv. North 25-25, Niagara-Wheatfield 10-22 Pool B Wmsv. South 25-26, Kenmore East 11-24 Wmsv. South 25-25, West Seneca East 15-18 Wmsv. South 25-25, Niagara Falls 11-6 Kenmore East 25-23, West Seneca East 14-25 Kenmore East 25-25, Niagara Falls 9-18 West Seneca East 23-25, Niagara Falls 25-22 Pool C North Tonawanda 25-15, Wmsv. East 21-25 North Tonawanda 25-25, Kenmore West 19-16 North Tonawanda 25-25, East Aurora 8-13 Wmsv. East 27-25, Kenmore West 25-16 Wmsv. East 25-25, East Aurora 11-12 Kenmore West 25-25, East Aurora 23-17

MVP: Sam Wezlmrski (NT). All Tournament: Team Brandon Casterline (NT), Michael Podgorny (GI), Mclain Erhard (GI), Joe Zanelotti (WS), Dylan Cicero (WE)

Hamburg Tournament
Buffalo News
October 25, 2014


Final Canisius 25-25, Lancaster 19-22 Semifinals Canisius 25-25, Hamburg 23-19 Lancaster 25-25, West Seneca West 18-19 Pool A Hamburg 25-25, St. Francis 10-17 Lancaster 25-25, Lake Shore 15-22 Hamburg 25-25, Lake Shore 15-16 Lancaster 25-25, St Francis 9-16 St. Francis 25-22, Lake Shore 18-25 Lancaster 25-25, Hamburg 21-20 Pool B Canisius 25-25, West Seneca West 7-17 Frontier 25-25, St. Joes 17-14 Canisius 25-26, Frontier 17-24 West Seneca West 25-25, St Joes 19-19 West Seneca West 25-25, Frontier 15-20 Canisius 25-25, St Joes 10-10

MVP: Trevor Gooch - Canisius. All Tournament: Cameron Bartus - West Seneca West, Zach Yerington - Hamburg, Tyler Witt - Lancaster, Kenny Rudz - Lancaster, Griffin Schmit - Canisius, Charlie Desmond - Canisius 

Freshmen lead Lancers
Buffalo News
October 25, 2014

The St. Mary’s girls volleyball team will take a 14-0 league record into Monday’s Monsignor Martin Association match with Immaculata and Tuesday’s contest with Nardin.

On Friday a pair of freshmen led the Lancers to a win in three games over Mount Mercy as Onalee Duane had 11 assists and Summer Slade had seven kills.

Hamburg spikers down Ken West in pre-quarterfinals
By: Dave Ricci, Sports Reporter | Sports
Friday October 24, 2014

You had the feeling from the word 'go' that the Bulldogs weren't going to be denied. Not on this night and not on their home floor.

Taylor Hite's 11 kills and 16 assists led the way as No. 8 Hamburg took down No. 9 Kenmore West in straight sets in their Section VI Class A pre-quarterfinal game that was played Friday night (Oct. 24). 

Winning by scores of 25-11, 25-16, and 25-14 the Bulldogs now advance to next Tuesday's quarterfinals where they will play top-seeded North Tonawanda, who won the Niagara Frontier League with a spotless 14-0 record.

The Bulldogs came into sectionals after a strong showing in the North Tonawanda Tournament on Oct. 18, eventually losing to Mercy of Rochester.

Obviously happy to advance, the Bulldogs were more pleased by the fact that they executed their game plan to the letter.

“We talk about focusing in a systematic defense and making sure that the girls play within their system and they did exactly that,” said Hamburg coach John Crangle. “And give Kenmore West credit they kept the ball up. Some of those volleys were going 4-5 (times) over the net and we were able to score points because our defense gave the offense the opportunity. We were able to spread the ball out.”

Even after falling down 2-0 early in the opening set, the Bulldogs stormed back with a 15-0 run that helped them set the tone for the rest of the evening.

“Definitely,” said Taylor Hite. “By doing that we showed that they weren't going to compete with us. Putting them down early really helped in the rest of the game when they did get ahead of us. We knew that (because) we beat them by that much in the first game we'd be able to win the next one.”

The Blue Devils, who were led by Dana Mancuso (11 digs, seven kills) and Abby Borkowski (seven kills, six digs, eight assists) didn't go down without a fight as sets two and three were far more competitive. Ken-West had the lead early in both sets and the Bulldogs had to dig down deep to keep the game from slipping away.

Allie Chimera, who had 12 digs for Ken West, had the opening serve in set three and helped her team take a surprising 4-0 lead.

But the Bulldogs took a quick timeout to regroup before taking command of the game again, racing to a 20-10 lead.

“Game two and the beginning of game three especially,” said Crangle. “Kenmore West, they were able to place the ball where they wanted to. Everyone wants to be tested because you want to see how you respond. And I really like how we responded.”

The Blue Devils' defense, which was led by libero Erin Veronica (12 digs) hung in until the final point, but the Bulldogs had just too much talent and size across the board.

“I thought we did a good job of keeping their big hitters at bay as much as we could,” said Ken West coach Kelly Strong.

“But you've got to give them credit. They have some amazing hitters. We just didn't have the block-ops to be able to stop them.”

Lara McCormick had 17 service points and Lauren Moelbert had 17 kills for the Bulldogs.

“We're expecting a good competitive match (against NT) and we're looking forward to seeing them,” said Crangle.

Hite, Yerington find success in their second sport of choice
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Friday October 24, 2014


Senior Zach Yerington (10) will fulfill his dream of playing volleyball at Ohio State after he graduates from Hamburg in 2015. Photo by Dave Eckhardt.


That day when Taylor Hite’s mother dragged her out of basketball practice was almost 10 years ago.

Like most children that were into basketball from the Hamburg area, the Hamburg High School senior used to hoop in the Little Cagers league and loved every minute of it.

The time Hite’s mother decided to get her into the sport that she played and coached on the high school and collegiate level was going to come sooner than later.

Sobbing on the way out of basketball practice, Hite was upset that it came at the expense of her hoop dreams.

“I did not want to play volleyball,” said Hite, who was also a gymnast from 3 years old until fourth grade. “I thought I was going to be this huge basketball star, actually.”

The switch was not a bad idea now that Hite looks back on it. In fact, come next fall, Hite will be competing on the collegiate level at Division I La Salle.

It’s safe to say that Hite is a fan of volleyball now.

“After I stopped crying and I actually went to the practice, I really liked it,” Hite said.

Her classmate, Zach Yerington, had a similar path to committing to play Division I volleyball. A standout on Hamburg’s boys team, Yerington will spend the next four years playing at Ohio State.

While Yerington picked the university of his dreams, it came at the expense of another fall sport that he dreamt of playing on the next level back when he was in middle school.

“Before ninth grade I played football,” said Yerington. “That’s what I wanted to do, but plans changed a little bit.”

Yerington grew up as a huge fan of football and Ohio State. He always had hopes of playing football for the Buckeyes long before he decided to switch over to volleyball.

He was born in Cleveland and would frequently visit his father in Columbus growing up. He visited the OSU campus and attended numerous sporting events and easily fell in love with the institution.

Yerington switched sports simply because he wanted to play on a winning team. The football team was not that good at the time but the boys volleyball team was. Plus, his mother was a college volleyball player.

“I knew our volleyball team was pretty good, plus my mom played in college, so I’ve had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to switch,” said Yerington. “So I went for it in ninth grade… I was really bad my freshman year. You would laugh at me if you saw me play.”

Hite – an All-WNY selection in 2013 – continued to play basketball until the seventh grade. She even delved into track until volleyball became her priority only second to school.

She played for a U12 volleyball club under Eden’s girls varsity head coach Stephen Pierce before getting into Niagara Frontier Volleyball.

Hite nears the end of a five-year varsity career at Hamburg that almost never happened. In sixth grade, she had thoughts about going to Nardin for academics and athletics since Hamburg was a losing program at the time.

“I’m glad to be a part of it. I love it. I think school volleyball is really fun,” said Hite, who will study international business in college and will graduate from Hamburg this winter to study abroad in Spain.

“I will say I love club more, but I’ve gotten really close to a lot of girls on the team and I like seeing them every day and playing with them.”

Hite has two sectional championships under her belt and she credits them to John Crangle. He came and took over the varsity program while Hite was having thoughts about going to Nardin for high school.

Instead, she became a key player for Crangle’s varsity team in middle school.

“She had the will to learn and the will to compete as an eighth grader, so I yanked her up and she played with me her eighth grade year,” said Crangle. “Having her committed to succeed is contagious… Where we want to go with this program, having someone committed like Tay has helped us achieve the culture that we want.”

Yerington won his first sectional championship last season. He was an All-WNY first team selection as a junior.

“I knew we were going to be a really good team. The X-Factor was our sophomore setter at the time (Ryan Dils),” said Yerington, who also gave credit to Patrick Stroh and Trevor Vail, who were seniors on their title run last fall.

Hamburg is currently ranked No. 3 on the WNY coach’s poll. Some of the highlights of the 2014 season for the Bulldogs include winning the Silver Bracket at the prestigious Eden Tournament and defeating No. 4 Lancaster — which was ranked No. 3 before the game.

“It is what I expected,” Yerington commented on the season thus far. “We don’t have much power hitting but we’re passing a lot better. We’re better at the defensive aspect of the game. We have more options.”

The Bulldogs actually have a chance of moving up in the rankings before the season is all said and done. They have a marquee nonleague matchup scheduled at No. 2 Eden tonight (Oct. 23) and also host their own tournament on Oct. 25.

This last week and some change should be a huge test for Hamburg and how its team can finish the year.

“I just kind of want to go out and give it all I got this last month,” Yerington said in hopes of making a run at states. “I’m just going to leave it out on the floor and see what happens.”

You can find Yerington in the middle as one of the top hitters in the section. Hite, on the other hand… you’d have to keep your head on a swivel to keep up with where Crangle has her on the court, playing every position well.

“It’s one thing to have the skillset to play multiple positions and it’s another to actually understand them,” said Crangle. “Playing defense out of the one or five spot, running a right side, middle or left side. All those things we’ve asked her to do be to multidimensional she’s done them for us.”

Hite hopes to avenge a 2013 semifinal loss to Williamsville East this postseason. Even if she falls short, she has gotten more than should could ever dream of after wiping her tears and making the switch from basketball to volleyball.

“I love that I have met some of the greatest people through the sport of volleyball. My club teammates are absolutely my best friends. They live 40 minutes away but we still find time to see each other…they’re the greatest people ever and I’m so glad I met them. Volleyball is so much fun.”

Volleyball playoffs begin
Buffalo News
October 24, 2014

Sectional play in girls volleyball begins tonight with prequarterfinal matches.

The seedings and tournament draw were announced late Wednesday.

Gaining top seeds were Clarence (Class AA), North Tonawanda (Class A), Williamsville South (Class B1), Depew (Class B2), Springville (Class C1), Cattaraugus/Little Valley (Class C2), Chautauqua Lake (Class D1) and Panama (Class D2).

Niagara volleyball sweeps Canisius
Buffalo News
October 2
3, 2014

Niagara beat Canisius in three sets, 25-11, 25-15, 25-19, in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference women’s volleyball match played at the Gallagher Center.

The Purple Eagles swept the season series and improved to 9-12, 5-5 in the MAAC as Alex Stone led the winners with 12 kills and a .529 attack percentage. Alexis Gray finished with 35 assists as Niagara swept the season series with the Griffs for the fifth time in six years.

Canisius (5-14, 5-5) only finished with 19 kills as a team, its lowest total in a match since posting 19 at Niagara on Oct. 20, 2010.

“This was a really big win for this group of athletes in so many ways,” Niagara coach Vilis Ozols said. “They executed extremely well and it was our best outing of the season.”

The Purple Eagles finished with a season-high .349 hit percentage while their nine blocks were their most for a three-set match this season.

Lancaster girls volleyball barely drops five-setter
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Lancaster Bee
October 23, 2014


Lancaster senior Victoria Laratonda shows perfect passing form during Thursday’s match against Williamsville South. Laratonda led Lancaster with 18 digs in the match. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


After trading the first four games against Williamsville South on Thursday, the Lancaster girls volleyball team came up a bit short in game five.

Lancaster came out strong to win the first set 25-21, but then swapped the next three sets 16-25, 25-18, 15-25. The fifth set was competitive, but ultimately Williamsville South ended up winning 25-19.

“It was a marathon of a match, we were both just beating each other back and forth,” Lancaster head coach Becky Edwards said. “It basically just seemed like which ever team could get the biggest run would win. And every game it was kind of flip flopped.”

For Lancaster, the difference between winning and losing a set came down to serve and serve receive.

According to Edwards, Lancaster was successfully able to serve Williamsville South off the floor in the first and third sets. However, it was the complete opposite in the other three games.

Williamsville South focused on setting their two outside hitters, Madison Clark and Jessica Miller, anywhere on the floor to get a kill. Clark has already verbally committed to playing Division I volleyball next season at University at Buffalo.

Meanwhile, Lancaster’s offense was much more spread out as three hitters registered double digit kills. Freshman Julia Kurowski led the team with 12 kills, while senior middle blocker Lauren Kowalczewski registered 11 and senior outside hitter Pamela Tarapacki had 10. Kurowski also ran the 6-2 offense as one of the setters along with senior Emily Ast. Ast recorded 25 assists while Kurowski had 13.

“The setters did a good job of spreading the ball around,” Edwards said. “And to have a middle blocker with 11 kills is a credit that we did pass well at times.”

Kurowski leads the team with 83 kills on the season while Kowalczewski is second with 75. At six-feet tall, Kowalczewski is able to hit over blockers and showcases a nice quick arm swing.

Edwards said she watched Kurowski play during the club season last winter, and is not surprised to see her excelling at the varsity level already.

“She hits the ball hard, but also knows where to find the holes,” Edwards added. “As a freshman, she’s one of the smartest players on the court. She has a lot of room for growth which is exciting, because it shows she will even be better.”

Lancaster finished at 5-7 in ECIC Division I play this fall. Coming up this week, Lancaster will scrimmage a few times to prepare for the Class AA playoffs which begin on Tuesday.

The seeding meeting was held on Wednesday night, but Lancaster is expected to play against

Orchard Park in the first round. Lancaster split the season series against the Lady Quakers this fall.

“Anything can happen,” Edwards said. “We were the No. 5 seed last year and made the finals, so anything can happen come playoff time.”

West girls volleyball tops East, Nichols
West Seneca Bee
October 23, 2014


West Seneca West’s Olivia Levulis tries to time her jumps just right to block the spike attempt of West Seneca East’s Julia Reed during the crosstown rivals’ “Dig Pink” clash Saturday at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center. West emerged from the match victoriously by 26-24, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22 scores. Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


West Seneca West’s girls volleyball team worked to put together some positive momentum heading into the postseason after knocking off both Nichols and crosstown rival West Seneca East in recent non-league action.

Monday’s 3-0 Senior Night sweep of Nichols saw senior captain Amanda Doster lead the charge with eight kills and four digs, while fellow senior captain Lu Krawczyk contributed six kills and six digs.

West took momentum into its Senior Night contest after topping East in Saturday’s Dig Pink match at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center, 26-24, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22.

Coach Matt Todaro noted that “the difference between this match and many of our previous matches this season was the fact that our girls never stopped pushing each other.” That motivation probably was turned up a few notches since it was a match against East, which Todaro said is “the one game that every West Seneca kid remembers playing” and “is the game we’ve probably been looking forward to the most since day one.”

“East had some opportunities to pull ahead and finish the game, but our girls were relentless themselves and didn’t let them close the deal,” Todaro said. “You’re going to have some bounces go against you, but if you continue to press forward you will eventually have luck turn in your favor.”

Prior to those matches, West placed third out of 16 teams at the annual West Seneca Tournament, which was also at the BNCC. The Lady Indians were eliminated from title contention in the semifinals by eventual champion Starpoint.

After losing the first set, sophomore Rebekah Patrick started off the second set with six aces and contributed seven kills in a 25-6 win. West started off slow in the third set, though, falling behind by an 11-2 count before bringing the score to 14-9. West ultimately lost the decisive set by a 16-14 mark.

“Lynn Cleversley made the switch to libero and played some of her best volleyball of the year,” Todaro said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more out of her through out the tournament. Rebekah is one of our younger players on the team with a high ceiling, and she showed what she is capable of in the second set. With a little more experience at the varsity level, she will be performing at that level every time she steps onto the court.”

West closed out its regular season Wednesday against non-league foe City Honors, but information about that contest was not available at press time.

The Lady Indians’ playoff fate was also scheduled to be determined at the seeding meeting that night.

Lexner earns 300th career victory in win against Marauders 
Boys volleyball

by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Orchard Park Bee
October 23, 2014 


The entire Orchard Park boys volleyball team celebrates with head coach Matt Lexner, middle, after beating St. Joe’s on Tuesday. For Lexner, it was his 300th career victory. 


After the first two sets against St. Joe’s on Tuesday, Orchard Park boys volleyball head coach Matt Lexner probably thought it was a long shot to win.

The Quakers were without their leading outside hitter — senior Marty Hackford, due to a sprained ankle — and they dropped the first two sets 19-25, 18-25.

In the third set, Orchard Park was more competitive but found themselves down 27-28. However, they persevered and went on to win the next three points to take the third set 30-28.

In arguably the best comeback for the Quakers all season, they went to win the next two games 25-17, 25-22 to take the match.

To make matters sweeter, for Lexner it was his 300th career victory as a head coach in Western New York.


Orchard Park senior Jordan DeRosiers, right, goes up for a block against Clarence on Friday. The Quakers lost that match in a sweep. DeRosiers was named to the Orchard Park All-Tournament Team on Saturday. Photo by John NormilePurchase color photos atwww.BeeNews.com


“It never crossed my mind until [former Orchard Park coach] Walt Stefani got 500 and [Clarence head coach] Kevin Starr got 400,” Lexner said.

Lexner’s first year of coaching came in 1993 for Pembroke, but the team finished 0-12. In 1997, he moved on to Cleveland Hill where they finished 7-10.

The other 293 victories have come at Orchard Park throughout his 15-year tenure.

“This is the kind of stuff other people do and I read about it,” Lexner said. “But I’m happy for the players and parents. To see them enjoy wins and get excited, that never gets old.”

Freshman Matt Donahue and sophomore Alex Alessi were both called up to the varsity team on Saturday for the Orchard Park Tournament, and they remained in the lineup on Tuesday.

They struggled early on, but then found a rhythm and pulled it together. Donahue was able to put a lot of pressure on St. Joe’s with his jump serve, which helped aid the comeback.

Junior outside hitter Jason Manley finished with 12 kills and four aces.

The Quakers finished third at the tournament they hosted on Saturday. Their pool included Eden, Clarence and St. Francis to start the day.

Orchard Park split with Eden and Clarence, but swept St. Francis to finish at 4-2.

Donahue played libero that day, while Alessi filled in at outside hitter. Both are solid passers, which allowed the Quakers to utilize their middle attack more frequently. 

Senior middle blocker Jordan DeRosiers was selected to the All-Tournament Team.

“We beat Clarence and Eden pretty good and then barely lost the other games to them,” Lexner said. “We got the middles involved and it showed what we can do when we pass well.”

Orchard Park took second in the pool and crossed over to play against Hamburg in the semifinals. Both games were very competitive but Hamburg walked away as the winner 25-22, 25-23. Eden eventually went on to defeat 

Hamburg in the finals.

Orchard Park is currently 11-8 overall. In the latest Western New York Coaches Poll which came out on Tuesday, the Quakers were ranked No. 6.

On Wednesday, Orchard Park hosted Eden and recognized the seniors for “senior night.”

Hackford was expected to play just a couple rotations, but Lexner wants to get him fully healthy for playoffs.

The other seniors on the roster include DeRosiers, Jeff Biddle, Brad Wong, Ryan Carney, Sam Gura and Quinn Hodson.

The Class A playoffs will start on Thursday, Oct. 30 and Lexner said he expects the Quakers to have the fourth seed, which would give them a home game in the first round.

“Once Hackford comes back, that will make a big difference,” Lexner said. “Then we will have three solid passers on the floor.” 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

EA boys volleyball aiming for postseason turnaround
East Aurora Bee
October 23, 2014

East Aurora boys volleyball coach Brian Zittel has the players on his squad setting their sights on Saturday’s Grand Island Tournament as a way to close out the season successfully after winning just once in its five most recent matches.

The Blue Devils’ 3-0 win over Holland on October 10 was the only match that didn’t end with same score but East Aurora on the opposite side when it took on Eden, Depew, Cheektowaga and Maryvale in the past three weeks. Key injuries to sophomore center hitter Cal McTigue (sprained ankle) and junior front row blocker Nolan Kramer (fractured collarbone) didn’t help East Aurora’s fortunes over that span. 

“The whole team is struggling to have fun, and relax and compete,” Zittel said. “We’re not as bad as our record indicates. Our first pass on serve receive has been our biggest problem.”

Zittel also noted that several of his players have shown solid play over the season as well

Senior co-captains Brian Willert and David Yerofeev “are doing their best to keep the team focused and motivated,” Zittel said, while seniors Cole Milliron and Jarrin Jaworski — along with juniors Jason Farrell and Brad Mentecki — “are consistently putting in great efforts.”

Junior Colin Ruhlin “continues with the best passing on the team from the libero position,” Zittel said, while sophomore Russell Zagrobelny “continues to advance his abilities as a future setter for the squad.” Jacob Kaiser and Eric Bergman close out the team and are continuing to learn their responsibilities and improve their abilities.

Will South Boys Clinches ECIC II
Buffalo News
October 22, 2014

Williamsville South wrapped it the ECIC II boys volleyball championship for the second year in a row with a hard-fought sweep of Williamsville East, 26-24, 25-18 and 26-24. Christian Graziano (11 kills), Ryan Nigro (10 kills) and Joe Zanelotti (five aces) led the Billies who are 15-4 overall and finished 11-1 in the division. East was 9-3 in ECIC II.

No. 1 Clarence girls win
Buffalo News
October 22, 2014

With its first ECIC I girls volleyball championship since 2002 already in the bag, No. 1 ranked large school Clarence finished its regular season by sweeping fourth-ranked Sweet Home, 25-12, 28-26 and 25-17, in a nonleague match. The Red Devils went 12-0 in division play and 20-2 overall. Sweet Home, the runner-up to Williamsville East in ECIC II, is 11-4 overall.

“This is the best team I’ve coached in my four years,” said Clarence coach Mike Meyer. “They were undefeated in the league which speaks for itself.

Meghan Neelon, a sophomore, had 14 kills and 10 assists for a Clarence team that went into the season with high expectations.

Neelon “was All-Western New York last year, Karly King was all-division and Gabby Pacatte was second team all-league,” Meyer said. “Players who are already all-stars, give them another year with a strong club season, and you have a strong team.”

Will East Girls Finish 14-0 in ECIC II
Buffalo News
October 22, 2014

Williamsville East finished a 14-0 season in ECIC II with a sweep of West Seneca East. Melissa Mylak led the Flames with seven kills and four aces.

City Honors Wins
Buffalo News
October 22, 2014


City Honors volleyball players Julia Panepinto (12) and Nashid Fulcher (9) attempt a block against Kalee Martin (24) of Cheektowaga. Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News


City Honors, playing as an independent outside the Buffalo Public Schools League, swept three sets from Cheektowaga. Makaila Banks led the Centaurs with 11 digs, 5 aces and 4 kills. Maura Gribbins had 10 digs and two aces for Honors, ranked sixth in the small school poll.

Tough win for Quakers
Buffalo News
October 22, 2014

“It’s always a long night,” Orchard Park coach Matt Lexner said of the Quakers’ boys volleyball rivalry with St. Joe’s. Tuesday was no different.

OP lost the first two sets and trailed 28-27 in the third before rallying for a five-set victory at St. Joe’s.

The Quakers won in four sets at home against the Marauders last year and two years ago the teams went five sets before OP won again.

“We started slow but luckily we really got going,” said Lexner, who coached his 300th career victory. “We just were able to start passing the ball better. It’s simple cause and effect: Pass better and you get better chances at the net.

“We definitely got our serve on track. We had eight aces the last three games after none in the first two.”

Jason Manley, a junior, led the Quakers with 12 kills.

South girls volleyball falls in tournament final
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
October 22, 2014


Annalise Hoffman of Williamsville South bumps the volleyball during the Lady Billies’ 21-25, 25-16, 18-25, 25-15, 25-19 road victory on Thursday. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


After playing three matches in four days, Williamsville South girls volleyball coach Tom Sproull did not know what to expect from his squad at the Lady Jacks Invitational on Saturday at North Tonawanda High School.

Instead, the Lady Billies played great, losing in the finals against Mercy out of Rochester, 24-26, 16-25.

“Our team play at the tournament was the best it has been all season,” South coach Tom Sproull said. “Everything was clicking. We were blocking well. We also covered well, which means when somebody got blocked someone else picked the ball back up. We weren’t doing that early in the season. We also did not have any service errors. It was good to see at this point of the season.”

In pool play, South swept Sweet Home, 25-16, 25-22, and Gowanda, 25-19, 25-13 and split with Grand Island, 20-25, 25-12, to earn the top seed out of its bracket. South then beat Sweet Home, 30-27, in the gold bracket quarterfinals and Clarence, 23-25, 25-22, 25-13, in the semifinals.

Clarence is the top-ranked girls volleyball team in Western New York.

“It was impressive to win two straight against Clarence,” Sproull said. “We played well in the first game. When we needed the extra point, we got it.”

Jessica Miller (outside/right side hitter) and Madison Clark (setting/hitting outside in the front row) were named to the all-tournament team.

Sproull said Anna Hoffman played the best she has all season at libero. 

“She was reading the hitter well,” Sproull said. “She was getting balls up, getting tips. She was moving.”

South went 2-1 in road matches during the week, downing Starpoint in three games on Tuesday, Oct. 14 and Lancaster in five games on Thursday; and losing to Hamburg in four games on Thursday.

South hosted Orchard Park on Monday and Lake Shore on Tuesday, but information about the matches was unavailable before press time. 

Williamsville East 

The Lady Flames improved to 13-0 in ECIC II and 14-0 overall with a four-game road win over Hamburg on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Lexi Novak led East with 24 kills. Carly Shifflet added 21 kills and Natalie Berrafato recorded 47 assists.

The Lady Flames also got solid contributions on defense from Sam Mendelsohn and Bridget Sleap.

East traveled to West Seneca East for its league finale on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

The Lady Flames also competed in the Lady Jacks Invitational on Saturday. They went 6-0 in pool play, defeating Frontier, Kenmore West and Sacred Heart; beating Portville, 30-26, in the gold bracket quarterfinals and lost to Mercy, 25-19, 17-25, 10-15, in the semifinals. East was the only team to win a game against Mercy in the gold bracket.

“They were a really tall team and they affected our hitting,” East coach Scott Wright said. “It was the first time all year someone put up a good block against us and it hurt our hitting percentage.” 

Shifflet was named to the all-tournament team, although Wright said Novak or Berrafato were also worthy of the honor.

“Carly was solid all day,” he said. “She led us in kills and is also one of our better defensive players.”

He also noted the defense from Sleap, Tori Thuman and Madison Cicero. 

Williamsville North 

North finished tied for second in ECIC I with a 9-3 record after posting a 25-11, 25-20, 25-13 win at West Seneca West on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Hopkins said everybody on the team was able to play and some players who are normally not in the lineup played well, including Olivia Fitzpatrick (outside hitter), Adrianna Soucy (right side hitter) and Lauren Saturnino (setter).

The Lady Spartans also hosted Lockport on Friday and won 25-13, 25-17, 25-16.

Lauren Schreiner (11 kills), Lauren Curtis (9 kills), Andrea Kiely (29 assists) and Kailee Terrance (18 digs) paced North.

North, missing three starters, lost to Portville, 30-27, in the quarterfinals of the Lady Jacks Invitational on Saturday at North Tonawanda. The Lady Spartans swept Randolph and Niagara Wheatfield and lost twice to Clarence in pool play.

North (14-10-1) plays non-league games at Nardin on Wednesday and hosts Williamsville East on Thursday. email: pnagy@beenews.com

East, South boys volleyball to meet for ECIC II title
Amherst Bee
October 22, 2014

By the time the Bee went to press, it’s possible that there could be a three-way tie for the ECIC Division II title.

Williamsville East (11-5, 9-2) hosted Williamsville South on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. Because Lake Shore has beaten East and South once, an East win over South would result in a three-way tie for the division title. 

One of East’s best matches of the season was a five-game loss against Clarence on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Clarence won the fifth game, 36-34.

“Both teams were out of timeouts and it was left to the kids to tie the game,” East coach Mike Braunscheidel said. “Myself and coach [Kevin] Starr did not know what to say to each other after the match. It was a highlight for us in the middle of the season. It didn’t feel like we lost the match because the kids left everything on the court.”

Clarence and East alternated wins in the first four sets. Clarence won the first set, 25-21 and third set, 25-23, and East won the second set, 25-19 and fourth set, 25-21.

After the loss, East went on a three-match win streak, defeating Starpoint on Oct. 1, Sweet Home on Oct. 2 and Amherst on Oct. 7 in three games each; and then lost in four games to Lake Shore, 25-23, 22-25, 25-27, 19-25.

The Flames responded with wins over Iroquois in three games on Wednesday and West Seneca East in four games on Friday.

For the season, Dylan Cicero leads East in digs and Cort Williams leads in kills.

Braunscheidel is also proud of how the team is more diversified in its offense.

“We are able to use Mike Shanahan [outside hitter] and Kyle Williams [weak side hitter] more, so it frees up our middles more,” he said.

East also hosts Cheektowaga on Thursday and competes in the Grand Island Tournament on Saturday.

North boys volleyball upsets Orchard Park
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
October 22, 2014

Williamsville North’s boys volleyball team (7-7) rallied from a one-game deficit to record a four-game 22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-20 win at Orchard Park on Wednesday.

Spartans coach Mike Minnuto said it’s North’s first win over OP in at least eight years.

“To beat Orchard Park is a big accomplishment,” North coach Mike Minnuto said. “They are a well-respected program. We have been close with them for a couple years, and they have always had a couple points in each game that changed the game. We showed a lot of resilience after dropping the first game to come back and win three straight in their gym. We got disciplined defensively, and we stopped giving up those three or four points per game that were easy points for the opposing team.”

“Our defense neutralized OP and we were able to win points at the net. I think we gained some confidence and shows that we can play at a high level. Our goal will be to maintain the high level and not drop back to down to levels that we have played in the past.”

Noah Chojnacki (12 kills); Jackson Collis (12 digs); Jeremy Schatz (35 assists); and Dylan Lambert (10 blocks) paced the Spartans.

North also won non-league home matches over Sweet Home, 25-18, 25-19, 25-22, on Tuesday, Oct. 14, and Williamsville East, 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 28-26 on Thursday.

Minnuto said the team hit its stride against Sweet Home, controlling the net and getting good serving and defensive play.

Maceo Jack (10 kills), Noah Chojnacki (8 kills) and Jackson Collis (10 digs) paced the Spartans versus Sweet Home.

Minnuto was worried about a letdown against East coming off the OP win.

“To win the first two comfort- ably, we let our guard down in the third, and the fourth game was anyone’s game,” Minnuto said. “We did not play at our best.”

Chojnacki recorded 12 kills and Jack added eight kills.

North traveled to Amherst on Monday and hosted Hamburg on Tuesday, but information about the matches was unavailable before press time. They will compete in the Grand Island Tournament on Saturday.

Clarence Boys volleyball team sweeps OP for second consecutive season
Clarence Bee
October 22, 2014


Tommy Ecker tries to put the ball in the perfect spot to avoid Orchard Park’s would-be block during Clarence’s 3-0 win over the Quakers Friday. Photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com 


Going into Orchard Park’s gym used to spell disaster for Clarence’s boys volleyball team, but that hasn’t been the case as of late as the Red Devils showed Friday by posting a 25-17, 25-21, 25-23 victory that gave them their second consecutive season sweep of the Quakers.

Senior setter Matt Dempsey had 29 assists to guide Clarence’s offense, while senior Tommy Ecker had 14 kills. Senior middle hitter Rob Kuberka, who recently returned to the lineup after missing several weeks due to an ankle injury, “has made a real connection” with Dempsey, according to coach Kevin Starr.

“Orchard Park is a very solid team, so we really had to be on our game to win that night,” Starr said. “Having Rob as a threat from the middle is going to stop teams from keying on our outside hitters — Ecker and (sophomore Henry) Payne — and our right side hitter, David Cummiskey. We have a much more versatile offense now, and this is making us even better than we were just a few weeks ago.”

Clarence entered the Orchard Park match looking to do well after defeating West Seneca West two days earlier in a five-game marathon, 25-23, 23-25, 21-25, 30-28, 25-22.

The Indians held a 21-16 lead in the fourth game, but Clarence’s ability to lock in its jump serves kept West off balance. Clarence also played what Starr called “some amazing defense at exactly the right time,” and also took advantage of West missing a few serves towards the end of the fourth game.

“The scores tell the story of an exciting match — but what the numbers don’t show is that this match was just about over in the fourth game,” Starr said. “Those serves that West missed wouldn’t have mattered much if we didn’t take advantage of them, but fortunately we did. This match was a great example of the kind of resilience that the guys have shown all season.”

Dempsey had 52 assists to stay on pace to break current Iroquois coach Mark Schlabach’s single-season record for assists that has stood since 1999. Payne, whom Starr said “is a national-level player in his age group who’s really hit his stride,” had 22 kills.

Clarence returned to Orchard Park Saturday to compete in the Quakers’ annual tournament, where it fell to eventual tournament champion Eden in the semifinals, 14-25, 25-27. Clarence swept Eden, as well as St. Francis, in pool play and also split with Orchard Park to earn its spot in the semifinals.

Dempsey had another great day moving the ball around to several different hitters, while Payne had 34 kills on the day in 63 attempts for a hitting percentage of .540 — well above the .300 mark that is considered “a solid percentage,” according to Starr.

“Teams are going to have to commit at least two blockers to Henry, which is going to open up chances for our other hitters,” Starr said of the squad’s representative on the all-tournament team.

Clarence closed out its league schedule Tuesday with its Senior Night match against Frontier, but information about that contest is not available at press time. The Red Devils wrap up the regular season Thursday by hosting Western New York’s current top-ranked team in Canisius.

Clarence Girls volleyball finishes with unblemished league record for first time in quarter century
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter Clarence Bee
October 22, 2014

Clarence’s girls volleyball achieved a pair of rare milestones thanks to its wins in its final two league matches, as the Lady Red Devils not only earned their first regular-season league championship by topping Orchard Park on October 9, but they also finished league play undefeated for the first time since at least 1989 with their conquest of Frontier on October 14.

Records beyond 1989 were not immediately available in Clarence’s athletic department on Monday afternoon, but Athletics Director Greg Kaszubski said he was fairly confident that no other varsity girls squad had gone undefeated in league play during his tenure. Coach Mike Meyer, who has been with the squad for three years, was fairly certain, however, that the regular-season title is the team’s first since 2002.

“The girls were very excited to clinch the league title and I was proud of them that they did that too,” Meyer said. “It took a lot of work to get here. Gabbi (Pacatte) and Meghan (Neelon) were on a team that went 3-9 in league play when they started on varsity three years ago, but rather than let that get them discouraged, it made them work even harder to get where they’re at with this year’s team.”

Meyer called the Orchard Park contest, which was also Clarence’s Senior Night game, “hotly contested.” Clarence, which recognized Pacatte’s and Lauren Barnes’ contributions to the program prior to its 25-19, 25-21, 25-21 victory, was led in kills for the first time this season by Karley King, who had 13. Neelon (11 kills) and Pacatte (seven kills) combined efforts to earn 21 digs, as each member of Clarence’s back row picked up at least five digs on the day to give the Lady Red Devils a great deal of extra offensive opportunities on the day.

“Karley was the big difference maker for us against Orchard Park; she stepped up and played great,” Meyer said. “We’re an offensive minded team, so it was great to get all of those digs and the ton of additional opportunities that came with them.”

The Lady Red Devils then clinched their undefeated romp through league play by taking out Frontier by 25-13, 25-27, 25-19, 25-13 scores. Clarence attacked the ball 140 times over the course of the match, and Meyer attributes a large number of those opportunities to solid serve receives and digs.

“Defensive specialist Amanda Gross and libero Lauren Barnes passed great in serve receive,” Meyer said. “It’s always tough to play in their gym, and it was a fight all night. Without the serve receiving and digging that we had, we don’t have nearly as many chances to attack the ball as we did — and fortunately our hitters rose to the occasion too.”

Pacatte finished the game with 21 kills, 21 digs and four aces, while Neelon added 12 kills, 10 digs and 14 assists. Maddie Christopher also dished out 12 assists for the Lady Red Devils.

“Our goal, really, is to improve each match, so the girls took the Frontier match as another opportunity to play and get better,” Meyer said. “I didn’t see them putting any extra pressure on themselves to win and finish undefeated in league play. They just wanted to win regardless of circumstance.”

The Lady Red Devils then tuned up for Tuesday’s regular-season finale against Sweet Home — information about that match wasn’t available at press time — by partaking in North Tonawanda’s annual tournament on Saturday.

Clarence finished first in pool play after beating Niagara Wheatfield, Williamsville North and Randolph, and then downed Chautauqua Lake in the quarterfinal round, 30-25. The Lady Red Devils then lost to what Meyer tabbed “an inspired” Williamsville South squad in the semifinal round, 25-23, 23-25, 13-15.

“I thought we played well for the tournament,” Meyer said. “We were down every game against Williamsville South and we fought back. We were probably one swing away from tying the match at 14 in the third game, and if we did that it’s a new game. South played great team defense and all of their big hitters showed up in a big way. We played well, but they just played a little better in that last game.”

Clarence, who saw Neelon named to the tournament’s All-Tournament Team, took a 19-2 overall record into Tuesday’s finale. The Lady Red Devils now have about a week’s time to fine tune their approach before kicking off postseason play at home at 7 p.m. Thursday, October 30, against an as-of-yet undetermined foe. What Meyer does know, though, is that his squad will play their game after the boys open postseason play at 5 p.m.

“We’ve just got to pay attention to the process that got us to where we are,” Meyer said. “After Frontier, when we finished 12-0 in the league, I asked the girls to remember where we started from and all of the work that they put in to get where we are. Our success didn’t just happen; the moment we stop trying to get better is when someone else catches up to us, so we’ve got to keep working at getting better. We wanted to be playing our best volleyball by the end of October, and we need to stay focused on that goal.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Entire roster stepping up at tourney 
St. Joe’s volleyball

by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Ken-Ton Bee 
October 22, 2014

The Marauders were missing three starters for the Orchard Park Tournament held on Saturday, but the reworked lineup played well together.

Head coach Mark Anzalone put some players in different positions in order to fill those holes left by the starters. But he said the new-look lineup fared well all day.

“Some guys stepped up who hadn’t played much at all this year, but they did a great job for us,” he said.

Senior Anthony Berardi led the Marauders offense all day, finishing with a team-high 24 kills. He was the main go-to player on the outside and managed that role impressively.

“Everyone knew [he was our main threat] and he still had 24 kills,” Anzalone said. “That was impressive considering everyone knew where the ball was going and he still put it away.”

Berardi’s younger brother, junior Matthew Berardi, ran the offense as a setter all day long. In the morning, he ran a 6-2 offense along with senior Nick Oakes. But in the afternoon, Matt Berardi ran a 5-1 offense by himself for the first time at the varsity level.

“They should be commended for the work they did stepping up on a tough day,” Anzalone said. 

Defensively, senior Jason Brick played steadily all day at libero. With the lineup showing a different form, he was tasked with passing more of the court on serve receive.

“He had to take up an extra passing duty because of the situation, covering half of the court on serve receive, and he did a great job as well,” Anzalone added.

The Marauders finished second in pool play at 4-2 after splitting with both Hamburg and Grand Island and sweeping Lake Shore.

After pool play, St. Joe’s crossed over to play Eden in the quarterfinals. In a one game match to 30, the Marauders wound up losing 30-15.

St. Joe’s was hanging tough at the split, as they were down just 15-12. But then the Marauders got stuck in a rotation with a bad matchup against Eden’s strong front line. That resulted in Eden running off 10 straight points and icing the match.

“We were a little bit one dimensional with some ball control issues and we couldn’t get out of it,” Anzalone said. “It was a tough rotation for us and one of their best rotations.”

Eden later went on to defeat Hamburg in the finals.

Prior to the tournament, St. Joe’s lost in a sweep to Canisius on the road on Thursday 15-25, 23-25, 17-25. 

The match could have went the opposite direction, but the Marauders lost a close two-point game in the second set. In the third game, St. Joe’s was tied at 15-15 but let the remaining points slip away from them.

“Credit Canisius, they didn’t make many errors and they played well,” Anzalone said. “Our guys played hard but it just didn’t go our way.”

Coming up for the Marauders in a busy stretch of matches. On Wednesday they play at home against St. Mary’s, followed up by a home game against Lancaster on Friday. Then they travel to Hamburg for a tournament on Saturday. 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

Pierce, Raiders at their best for end-of-season stretch
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Tuesday October 21, 2014


Junior Declan Pierce took MVP at the Orchard Park Tournament on Oct. 18. Photo by Dave Eckhardt.


Declan Pierce and Eden are towards the top of the local boys volleyball scene, but the next few weeks will more than certainly test their muscle.

Pierce, a junior who is committed to playing volleyball at Penn State in 2016, is confident about his team’s chances on making a long postseason run because of the strength of some of the older guys on a roster that returned the everyone from last fall.

“I think we have a very strong team this year, definitely with Calvin [Nowicki] helping us a lot,” said Pierce. “Last year we had no seniors. We stepped up our game this year and brought it to where we want to be.”

Although without seniors in 2013, Eden had much firepower and brought back everyone. Pierce returns as an All-WNY second team selection. Hayden Herc, Shane Smith, Cole Overhoff and Jake Schlegel are some of the key returners while Nowicki transferred in and has given the Raiders another dimension.

“In the division we’re undefeated. We don’t take those games lightly,” said Pierce. “And we look forward to tournaments and nonleague matches like Orchard Park, Hamburg and Canisius because those are always fun.”

This stretch at the end of October looks like it will be an enjoyable one for Pierce and Eden as the Raiders prepare for the postseason with key games against the nonleague opponents he just mentioned.

Eden, ranked No. 2 in the latest WNY Coaches Poll, was scheduled to visit No. 6 Orchard Park on Oct. 22. Tonight (Oct. 23) the Raiders are set to host No. 4 Hamburg and will also go up against No. 1 Canisius in Eden on Oct. 27.

“They’re a very good team and it’s always fun to play them,” Pierce said about Canisius. “No. 1 versus No. 2 in Western New York. They train hard and it’s a friendly rivalry. We have a bunch of guys that play club in Eden. As soon as the club season is over we put on our Canisius over our Eden jerseys and we go back at it and play hard.”

Pierce gave Penn State a verbal commitment as a sophomore, following in the footsteps of his family members. His father and head coach at Eden, Robert Pierce, was a Nittany Lion along with Declan’s mother. Kendall and Lainy Pierce, Declan’s sisters, are currently playing for Penn State’s women’s volleyball team.

Pierce never went on a single college visit before he went down to State College.

“That was it,” said Pierce. “A couple of other colleges looked at me, but Penn State really liked me.”

The October stretch has been good to Eden so far. The Raiders won the Lockport Tournament on Oct. 11 and followed that up with a championship on Oct. 18 at the Orchard Park Tournament, where Pierce took MVP honors.

In the Finals, the Raiders took on their neighbor rival Hamburg in what may be a foreshadowing for the sectional finals in two weeks. Both teams were not at full strength but the Raiders were fortunate to get the best of the Bulldogs.

“The Hamburg team is well-coached and very experienced and they have some athletes who present a serious problem,” said coach Pierce. “We’re excited to seeing great teams like OP and Hamburg and Canisius in a great tune up for playoffs. For fans of volleyball, they will see some of the best players in the area and nation in these matches.”

The Raiders started out slow and lethargic, going 3-3 in pool play with a loss to Clarence and splitting with the tournament host, but the Raiders’ veterans answered the bell and took it to St. Francis to win two convincing games.

Without their starting freshman outside hitter, Colin Rigley, the Raiders did some lineup shuffling and found solid play from Connor Basinski in that role. Smith and Hayden were huge in all of the playoff games not only from the frontline blocking and hitting, but most importantly from the service line, where both went on huge serving runs to give the Raiders leads.

The Raiders handled St. Joes 30-15 in a play-in match and then played a rematch against Clarence. Eden was firing on all cylinders in the first game and scored at will, taking that game 25-15. Clarence rebounded in Game 2 but the Raiders kept within striking distance with Pierce and Herc’s ability to score with kills to every area of the court. With a key substitution of Schlegel into the frontline, he responded with a huge kill and massive one-on-one block that put the raiders ahead and they went on to win 25-23, advancing to the finals.

Schlegel and Nowicki provided devastating blocks time after time in the playoff run. The defensive battery of Mitchell Mason and Overhoff were all over the floor to keep plays alive.

Herc and Nowicki were named to the all-tournament team while tourney MVP Pierce led from an offensive and passing perspective.

“I think we can really push for sectionals if not states if we just keep on working at it and play hard against these good teams,” said Pierce.

Western New York 2014 Boys Top 10 Poll - 10/21/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Canisius (10) 118 1
2. Eden (2) 109 2
3. Lancaster 97 3
4. Hamburg 84 4
5. Clarence 72 5
6. Orchard Park 61 6
7. St. Joe's 46 7
8. West Seneca West 25 8
9. Williamsville South 21 10
10. Lockport 19 9


Western New York 2014 Girls Top 10 Poll - 10/21/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Clarence (7) 88
2. Williamsville East (2) 73
3. Williamsville South 56
4. Sweet Home 54
5. North Tonawanda 51
6. Frontier 50
7. Hamburg 49
8. Williamsville North 42
9. Grand Island 15
T-10. Orchard Park 11
T-10. Lancaster 11
Also receiving votes: Lockport, Albion and Depew.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60
2. Eden 54
3. Nardin 48
4. Portville 39
5. Randolph 32
6. City Honors 30
7. Mt. St. Mary's 24
8. Immaculata 22
9. Southwestern 19
T-10. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 12
T-10. Chautauqua Lake 12
Also receiving votes: Falconer and Newfane.


Eden wins OP tournament
Buffalo News
October 19, 2014

Eden, ranked No. 2 in the Western New York Coaches Poll, defeated No. 4 ranked Hamburg, 25-21 and 25-18 in the finals of the Orchard Park boys volleyball tournament. On their way to the finals, the Raiders knocked off No. 7 St. Joe’s (30-15) and No. 5 Clarence (24-25, 25-23) after going only 3-3 in pool play. Eden lost twice to Clarence, split with host Orchard Park and swept St. Francis in pool play. Hamburg was 5-1 in pool play, sweeping Grand Island and Lake Shore and splitting with St. Joe’s.

Declan Pierce of Eden was named tournament Most Valuable Player as the Raiders dominated the all-tournament team. Calvin Nowicki and Hayden Herc of Eden also were selected along with Ryan Dils and Zach Yerington of Hamburg, Jordan DeRosiers of Orchard Park and Henry Payne of Clarence.

Rochester team wins at NT
Buffalo News
October 19, 2014

Mercy of Rochester defeated Williamsville South in straight sets, 26-24, 25-14, to win the Gold Flight finals of the North Tonawanda girls volleyball tournament. The visitors from Section V were 6-0 in pool play before eliminating Hamburg and Williamsville East on the way to the title match.

The Silver Flight championship went to the host Lumberjacks, winners over Frontier, 25-18 and 25-23 in the finals.

Niagara-Wheatfield defeated Lake Shore, 26-24, 25-15, in the bronze finals.

Lancaster wins close one
Buffalo News
October 18, 2014

Lancaster and Hamburg played a superb boys volleyball match, with the Redskins coming up with a five-set win at home. 

“These are two excellent teams, and they played some of the best volleyball I’ve seen all year,” said a relieved Lancaster coach Jason Stang. “I went into the game hoping that I wouldn’t get too fired up, because we don’t play them in the playoffs and the game wouldn’t change the order of the seedings. Lockport will be No. 1 and we’ll be No. 2. But I did.”

Stang was drained when it was over. Lancaster won the first two games, and then dropped the next two to set up the deciding game.

“It was neck and neck for a lot of the game,” the coach said. “We got on a good serving run. We also had some good blocking and good digging to pull it out.”

Jay Baumann led Lancaster with 26 kills, while Tyler Whit had 57 assists.

Elsewhere, Clarence took a good match in three sets from Orchard Park. The Red Devils were paced by Matt Dempsey (29 assists) and Tommy Ecker (14 kills).

North Collins spikers upended by Southwestern
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Friday October 17, 2014

North Collins had been waiting for its first match against Southwestern all season long knowing that the division could be on the line.

With a hiccup in an earlier-season loss to Falconer, the Lady Eagles needed to make up ground on an unbeaten Southwestern girls volleyball team.

In the end the, Trojans were too much, dropping the Eagles in straight sets on Oct. 15 at North Collins.

The two clubs will meet again on Oct. 21 at Southwestern (13-3 overall, 13-0 in CCAA Central), a Class C team that North Collins (12-2, 10-2) will not have to worry about in the Class D bracket. 

"We want to win the league and then win sectionals, but we knew that if we wanted a chance to win the league then we had to take a game from Southwestern," said North Collins coach Doug Burgstahler. "We play them again next week Tuesday. I think we learned a lot about ourselves tonight and a lot about them, so hopefully we can apply those things in our next practices and games."

Sophomore Angela Filkov paced the Eagles offense with 25 assists and her older sister, junior Jasmine Filkov, added 7 kills. Morgan Mathis and Arrika Bley each had 8 kills in the loss.

Lockport clinches NFL title
Buffalo News
October 17, 2014

Lockport clinched its second-straight Niagara Frontier League boys volleyball title.

The Lions swept Niagara-Wheatfield to lock up the regular season championship with an 11-0 league mark. But this year’s title is a lot different than last year’s.

“We lost 11 seniors from last year’s team out of the 16 players we had,” coach Joe Whalen said. “The squad moved down to eight players. It’s the smallest group I ever had. We have two All-Western New Yorkers in Jason Donorovich and Brad Schneider, but the other players have had to contribute and pick up their games.

“It’s been a work in progress. Everyone has been improving and we’re happy with that. This is different than last year’s NFL championship because we weren’t solid across the board. Our backups had to work hard.”

South Looks For Repeat
Buffalo News
October 16, 2014

Williamsville South stayed the course in its quest to win a second straight ECIC II boys volleyball crown as the Billies defeated Starpoint, 25-15, 25-14, 25-13.

Joe Zanelotti led the winners with 10 kills, while Christian Graziano had six aces for South (13-4, 9-1), which needs to beat Iroquois today and Williamsville East on Tuesday to clinch the division title. Both Lake Shore and Will East have two league losses.

In ECIC III, Cheektowaga improved to 9-2 in the division, 11-3 overall with a 25-11, 25-16, 25-12 win over East Aurora as Adam Reichert had 15 kills in the win, while Brazil Thompson added nine kills.

City Honors bests Hutch-Tech
Buffalo News
October 16, 2014


Amherst’s Alex Allard (6) blocks a spike from Depew’s Alyssa Kling in the first game of Wednesday’s volleyball match. Amherst won, 25-15, 12-25, 16-25, 25-19 and 25-17. James P. McCoy/Buffalo News


Normally, the City Honors versus Hutch-Tech girls volleyball match would be one of the tougher league matches for the Centaurs – except this year.

That’s because City Honors is playing an independent schedule, one that resulted in Hutch-Tech becoming the first school other than Honors to win the Buffalo Public Schools championship over the past 26 years last week.

But the Centaurs and Engineers did not drop their match from the schedule, and the result of their annual gathering was a familiar one for City Honors, as it rolled to a 25-11, 25-7, 25-10 victory.

Makaila Banks led the winners with seven kills and three aces, while freshman Alena McKelvey recorded nine aces. 

Julia Panepinto added 27 assists to go with six kills for the Centaurs (6-3), who have two matches left on the schedule, but first will participate in the Horseheads Tournament on Saturday.

City Honors will be in the Class C bracket for the Section VI tournament.

Maryvale boys volleyball tops Falls in non-league contest
Lancaster Bee
October 16, 2014

Maryvale’s boys volleyball team refused to be intimidated by Class A’s Niagara Falls Friday, as the Flyers “stayed focused for the entire match” and “made some key hustle plays to turn the momentum in our favor” to ultimately pick up a 3-0 road victory, according to coach Andrew Murtha.

Jordan Nosal had 14 kills to guide Maryvale’s efforts, while Mike Ferguson chipped in with six blocks. Setter Sean McCarthy “played his best match of the season,” Murtha said, which certainly helped Maryvale earn the solid road win.

“Sean’s starting to make good setting decisions and push the ball outside to the pins,” Murtha said.

The trip to Niagara Falls couldn’t have come at a better time for Maryvale, which entered the match having dropped its three previous matches and having not performed up to expectations during its appearance in the Cheektowaga Tournament on Oct. 4.

The Flyers’ run began Sept. 30 with their next-closest effort to a win, their 3-1 setback at the hands of Amherst. Murtha noted that he was surprised that “we didn’t come out with more fire after losing to them earlier in the year,” but said that his team “will learn from this match.”

Maryvale’s intensity was up two days later when it took on perennial powerhouse Eden, but that wasn’t enough, as the Flyers dropped a 3-0 decision.

Maryvale went point-for-point with the Raiders to start the match until Eden began to pull away with the score nearing the 20s.

“We definitely played at a much higher level than we had in the previous match,” Murtha said. “I was proud of the effort and enthusiasm we showed despite the loss.”

A slow start in pool play at the Cheektowaga Tournament didn’t do Maryvale any favors, but the Flyers managed to improve to the point where they ended the day on a high note, winning what Murtha called a “tight and high-intensity” 25-23 game against St. Francis.

“The tournament was a good experience for some of our younger players, who had the chance to get some match play in,” Murtha said.

Maryvale then took on Depew Oct. 8 and came away from the contest with a 3-0 loss, which Murtha said was “frustrating because all of the games were close, and we essentially beat ourselves with our own errors.”

Lancaster boys volleyball
Lancaster Bee
October 16, 2014

Lancaster won a tough matchup against Orchard Park on Friday at home, which was considered senior night. 

Lancaster dropped the first game 23-25, but rallied back in the next three sets to win 25-21, 25-14, 25-21.

The junior duo of outside hitters Kenny Rudz and Jay Baumann led the offense with 16 and 15 kills respectively. Connor Schultz had also had a solid game at the net as he finished with five blocks.

Trevor Gabamonte shined in the back row compiling an impressive 26 digs in the match.

With the win, Lancaster improved to 9-1 in ECIC Division I and 15-3 overall.

On Wednesday, Lancaster traveled to Grand Island for a match, but results were not ready at press time.

Lancaster is currently ranked No. 3 in the Western New York Coaches Poll. On Friday, they host No. 4 ranked Hamburg at 5 p.m.

Kilijanski's Corner
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI, Reporter Lancaster Bee
October 16, 2014

The St. Mary’s girls volleyball team is good. Scary good.

They traveled to New Jersey over the weekend and returned with the Garden City Invitational championship. There were teams from all across the east coast, and only one school was good enough to win a single game against the Lady Lancers.

It was the third time this year that St. Mary’s won a tournament championship. According to head coach Don Pieczynski, it’s the first time that’s happened for the program. And that’s saying something considering how rich a history the school has in girls volleyball.

Going into the tournament, St. Mary’s was ranked No. 54 in the prepvolleyball.com national poll. The new rankings come out on Thursday and expect the Lady Lancers to jump into the top 50.

South boys volleyball drops first league match of season
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
October 15, 2014

For the first time in two years, Williamsville South’s boys volleyball team lost a match to an ECIC Division II opponent.

The Billies dropped a five-set match against Lake Shore, 25-20, 25-19, 25-27, 22-25, 27-29, at home on Thursday, Oct. 2.

“Lake Shore is an improved club,” South coach Thom Knab said. “They had a little better passing than us on that night, which enabled them to do a lot more with their offense.”

Christian Graziano (12 kills) and Ryan Nigro (9 kills) paced the South attack.

The Billies still sit atop ECIC II with an 8-1 record.

South was coming off a 20-25, 25-10, 25-14, 25-20 road win over Sweet Home on Tuesday, Sept. 30. Joe Zanelotti led the Billies with 11 kills.

The Billies split matches against the West Seneca schools last week, falling to West Seneca West, 24-26, 25-22, 22-25, 15-25, in a non-leaguer on Monday, Oct. 6 and winning a league match at West Seneca East, 25-10, 25-14, 25-14, on Wednesday.

Knab said his team’s passing was inconsistent against West Seneca West. Libero Braedan Gillman recorded 13 digs. Nigro added 16 kills and 10 digs.

South took advantage of West Seneca East’s struggles in passing and attack.

“It was one of our better matches of the season as far as our passing and limiting errors,” Knab said.

Zanelotti led with nine aces and Nigro had 12 kills.

South closed out the week by going 3-3 in pool play at the Lockport Tournament on Saturday. The Billies lost twice to Eden, split with North Tonawanda and swept Kenmore West.

South (12-5) travels to Starpoint on Wednesday and hosts Iroquois on Thursday. Their final league game is at Williamsville East on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

They close out the regular season competing in the Grand Island Tournament on Saturday.

Frontier's Brooks far from player she was in middle school
By:Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Wednesday October 15, 2014


McKyla Brooks hopes for another sectional title run in her last year at Frontier. Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes.


Less than one year away from competing as a Division I athlete, it’s still a little surprising to McKyla Brooks.

A lot more into playing basketball once upon a time, the Frontier senior tri-athlete that garnered a scholarship to Stony Brook had no idea she would be at this point when she first got her hands on a volleyball in middle school.

“I didn’t know anything and I said, ‘You know what? I’m trying out for volleyball,’” said Brooks, who is also a standout in indoor and outdoor track at Frontier. “I tried out, stunk, made the team...I don’t even know how I made the team. I was really bad. My serves would hit the backboard. I didn’t know how to control myself. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Brooks, whose scholarship to Stony Brook will allow her to participate in volleyball and track, noticed her skills on the court take a climb during her freshman season when she modeled her game after 2014 graduate Kaitlyn Long.

“Kaitlyn was a good defensive player and I always wanted to be just like her,” Brooks said. “She introduced me to club and then she helped me get into travel.”

Defense is where it began for Brooks. Now, the senior is one of the fiercest hitters in Western New York. If the play is set up for Brooks, there is almost no hope for the opposing team. Her spikes are practically automatic points at the touch, and she can control her body for a less powerful but just as lethal tip. Not to mention she blocks well, going back to her beginnings as a defensive player.

Brooks, a 2013 All-WNY first team selection, credits her play with NFVB for elevating her game for school ball, and in her final season, she may be experiencing her finest work yet.

With the likes of Long of Sydney Rojek gone from the 2013 team that won a sectional championship, Brooks is leading a 7-2 Falcons team that may be young, but seems ready for a another postseason run, jokes and all.

“I did not expect us to be here,” said Brooks, who is a co-captain at Frontier with classmate Taylor Kaznowski “Last year’s team was the Dream Team. That’s why I said it’s going to be so much different. We’re a jokester team and we fool around a lot. I fool around a lot. I didn’t think we’d be doing this well, but we’ve all worked hard to achieve this. This team is going to be pretty good.”

This year’s roster grew on Brooks just as her jersey number did. She took No. 9 in seventh grade because her birthday is June 9, but she switched to No. 12 the next year after someone took her number.

“Ever since then I had 12 and I said, ‘You know what? This is my number. I’m sticking with it,’” Brooks said. “I was so mad at the time, but I love 12 now. Every time I see it I’m like, ‘Hey, that’s my number.’ I love it.”

Frontier already owns victories against Orchard Park and Lancaster, defeating the Class AA runner-up in straight-sets to sweep the season series.

Brooks and Frontier defeated Lancaster last year for the Class AA sectional championship. She remembers those games as some of the most emotional contests she’s ever been a part of.

“It was intense. Everybody wanted it,” Brooks said of last year’s Class AA final. “We wanted to go. Everyone worked so hard to get there and we did. It was just so exciting. We were all together like a team should be.”

Brooks is always one that looks for competition and rises to the occasion. When her and her senior classmates Kaznowski, Angela Michels, Alyssa Buck, Olivia Nappo and Jackie Dufresne, and even younger girls like junior Sam Murray or freshman Cami Duggan, go up against their rivals or another potential sectional finalist, that’s when their level of play rises.

“When I play OP or Clarence or a really good team, I’m pumped and I’m looking for spots I need to get to for the kill,” Brooks said. “I’m more pumped for bigger competition.”

A runner-up to Orchard Park in her freshman and sophomore seasons, Brooks hopes that she can leave everything on the court once her final game comes, hoping to repeat as Class AA champion.

“All I’m saying is let’s go out with a bang,” Brooks said. “This team can make it if everybody puts their heart and mind into it.”

Sweet Home perseveres, beats South in five
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
October 15, 2014

Sweet Home’s girls volleyball team lost its first two games in its home match against Williamsville South on Tuesday, Oct. 7, but came back strong to win the next three, avenging a five-game loss earlier in the season.

The Lady Panthers fell behind 21-25, 21-25 and won the next three games, 25-18, 25-18, 25-16.

“It was great for the girls to persevere through that,” Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said. “They did not give up.”

It all started in the first game. Trailing 20-9, Sweet Home went on an 11-2 run. Although they lost the game, Martin could sense the momentum was building.

“I told them ‘there are going to be times when you are going to be challenged, but we have to step it up,” Martin said. “I told them not to look to the player next to you. You have to see what you can do for your team.”

“It was a fight for momentum. I knew if that we got the momentum, we were going to be great and we were.”

Rachel Reusch led Sweet Home with 37 kills, five blocks, two aces and 10 digs. Claire Hiwiller recorded 38 assists, 19 digs, nine kills and five aces.

Victoria Rigler added 23 digs. Emily Carver had seven kills and two aces.

“It was a total team effort,” Martin said. “Everybody pulled together and played key roles.”

Sweet Home also picked up a big four-game home win over Hamburg on Thursday, 30-28, 25-14, 22-25, 25-19.

“We served tough and put pressure on their offense,” Martin said. “They could not run as fluid an offense as they did when we were at their gym. We also played good floor defense, kept balls alive and they could not answer us out of the middle.”

Reusch led the Lady Panthers with 24 kills, five blocks, four aces and 12 digs. Hiwiller (29 assists, ace, seven digs); Carver (eight kills, two aces, four digs); and Rigler (17 digs) were other notable contributors.

Sweet Home opened the week with a 25-17, 25-11, 25-20 road win over Lake Shore on Monday, Oct. 6. Leading the Lady Panthers were Reusch (16 kills, three blocks, ace, three digs); Carver (seven kills, two aces); Rigler (11 digs); and Hiwiller (21 assists, three kills, seven digs).

Sweet Home (11-3, 10-3) hosted Iroquois on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They will compete in the North Tonawanda Lady Jacks Tournament on Saturday.

North wins two of three
Amherst Bee
October 15, 2014

Williamsville North’s girls volleyball team won two of three ECIC I matches last week, beating Orchard Park, 26-28, 25-16, 25-16, 25-13, on Monday, Oct. 6; losing to Frontier, 27-29, 26-24, 17-25, 23-25 on Tuesday, Oct. 7; and downing Lancaster, 25-16, 25-17, 25-16, on Thursday.

North coach Keith Hopkins was not sure whether it was because they played on back-to-back nights, but the team did not play well against Frontier.

“We were up in game one 24-22 and could not close it out,” Hopkins said. “We could have been up 2-0 and I think the match could have been different.”

North had beaten Frontier once during a league match and another time during a tournament this season.

It was North’s third league loss of the season. They are tied with Frontier for second place in ECIC I.

Lauren Schreiner led North with 11 kills and 15 digs. Elise Hopkins added nine kills and 14 digs.

Pacing North against OP were Schreiner (17 kills), Noelle Gulick (13 kills), Elise Hopkins and Lauren Curtis (7 kills each), and Andrea Kiely (42 assists).

Schreiner (10 kills), Curtis (six kills) and Elise Hopkins (10 service points) paced the Lady Spartans against Lancaster.

“The girls responded and took care of business against Lancaster,” coach Hopkins said.

North (9-8-1, 8-3) traveled to West Seneca West on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They host Lockport on Friday and compete in the North Tonawanda Tournament on Saturday.

Clarence Boys volleyball team splits pair of league matches
Clarence Bee
October 15, 2014

Clarence’s boys volleyball team held off an upset minded Williamsville North Friday to earn a split for the week and move to 5-4 in ECIC I play.

North entered the match coming off an upset win over West Seneca West and a close five-game loss to first-place Lancaster, so coach Kevin Starr said “we knew that we’d have our hands full.” Starr said that North “honestly played with more fire than we did in the first set, and they looked like the better team at that point,” which was emphasized by North’s 25-23 win.

“I told the boys before the second game that we were ‘feeding the beast’ — allowing North to gain both momentum and emotion,” Starr said. “We were losing what I call that ‘one step’ that comes from being ready to play defense and bringing passion to every point. It’s impossible to prove that it matters, but every player knows that it can make a difference of two or three points in an even game, and that’s why North won game one.”

Fortunately for Starr, the Red Devils responded to his message to take the second and third games by 25-20 and 25-18 scores, respectively. Clarence continued to maintain focus as the Spartans jumped out to an early lead in the fourth set, as the Red Devils played very good defense when it mattered, Starr said.

Senior middle hitter Andrew 

Danzer closed out the match with a big block, which gave Clarence the decisive 26-24 win, while senior setter Matt Dempsey dished out 49 assists. Senior Tommy Ecker was the main benefactor of Ecker’s passing as he collected 22 kills.

Clarence entered the match looking to do well after letting a 27-25, 28-26, 18-25, 17-25, 19-25 loss to Hamburg slip through its fingers two days earlier. The Red Devils were unable to overcome Hamburg’s “very disciplined defense,” according to Starr, nor did they have enough of an answer for Zach Yerrington, whom Starr called “one of the top players in Western New York.” 

“Anytime you win the first two sets in a best of five match, it’s especially disappointing when it doesn’t go your way at the end,” Starr said. “We did our best to adjust so that we had a better chance of slowing Yerrington down, but what really hurt us in this match was that we didn’t pass well. We haven’t had our libero, senior captain Mason Sebian, for several weeks now due to an injury, and he was the key to both our offense and defense. The other guys have adjusted well, but there’s no way to replace a player like Mason.

“We had more swings than we average in most matches, but many of them weren’t quality swings, so our hitting percentage was lower than usual,” Starr added.

Dempsey had 44 assists, while sophomore outside hitter Henry Payne had 17 kills in what Starr called “one of his best matches of the season.” Ecker and senior David Cummiskey each added 10 kills, while junior Ben Janzow “has developed a solid jump serve, which is starting to be a real weapon for us.”

Clarence returns to action October 15 against West Seneca West and then travels to Orchard Park both Friday and Saturday for a league match and tournament, respectively.

Lady Bulldogs volleyball solid at BNCC tourney
Ken-Ton Bee
October 15, 2014

The Kenmore East girls volleyball team finished as the runner-up in the Silver Bracket at the BNCC Varsity Tournament held on Saturday.

It was an impressive accomplishment considering that the Lady Bulldogs only had seven players available for the day.

Sara Taylor, Paige Palmer, Kendall Mills, Claire Butler, Raynah Barron, Minde Simons and Anna Taylor — who was called up from the junior varsity team — were forced to play full rotations the entire tournament.

“I thought we did especially well considering they had to play all the way around without any subs,” head coach Sean Leaderstorf said. “They played through fatigue and did an amazing job with some really tough competition.”

Prior to that, Kenmore East broke a two-game losing skid by defeating Niagara Falls on Thursday in four sets. Taylor had an all-around solid day finishing with nine kills, six assists and 10 digs. Palmer also played well with five blocks, four kills and nine digs.

Senior Erinn Kiehl also chipped in with three blocks, two kills and two digs. With the win, Kenmore East improved to 4-6 in the Niagara Frontier League and 4-7 overall.

“We bounced back and showed our potential,” Leaderstorf said.

Coming up on Thursday, the Lady Bulldogs square off against North Tonawanda at home. The match against Kenmore West has been rescheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at Ken East.

“All of the girls are playing really great volleyball right now, so I expect we will start strong in the playoffs and surprise some teams in the process,” Leaderstorf said. “We will have to be tough at the net and not let one opportunity to win the point slip away.”

Women’s volleyball
Buffalo News
October 15, 2015

Coach Reed Sunahara, hired in January, was a two-time All-America for the greatest volleyball coach ever, UCLA legend Al Scates. Sunahara had a very successful 12-year run as head coach at Cincinnati, then spent time as a U.S. national team coach before joining UB. He took Cincinnati to eight NCAA tournaments. He was a huge hire for UB.

College Clips for Oct. 15
Buffalo News
October 15, 2015

Hilbert’s Jordan Botsford, a senior right-side hitter from Penfield, became the first women’s volleyball player in school history to achieve 1,000 career digs when she had 11 against Buffalo State on Oct. 4.

Botsford became Hilbert’s all-time digs leader five matches into this season.

Western New York 2014 Boys Top 10 Poll - 10/14/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Canisius (12) 120 1
2. Eden 105 2
3. Lancaster 86 3
4. Hamburg 83 4
5. Clarence 71 5
6. Orchard Park 65 6
7. St. Joe's 47 7
8. West Seneca West 27 8
9. Lockport 23 9
10. Williamsville South 19 10


Western New York 2014 Girls Top 10 Poll - 10/14/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Clarence (7) 79 1
2. Williamsville East (1) 72 2
3. Williamsville South 54 3
4. North Tonawanda 53 5
5. Frontier 50 6
6. Williamsville North 49 4
7. Sweet Home 41 8
8. Hamburg 29 7
9. Grand Island 15 10
T-10. Orchard Park 10 10
T-10. Lancaster 10 9
Also receiving votes: Lockport, Albion, Depew and Niagara-Wheatfield.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60 1
2. Eden 54 2
3. Nardin 48 3
4. Portville 30 4
5. Randolph 28 5
6. Mt. St. Mary's 25 6
7. City Honors 20 7
8. Southwestern 18 NR
9. Immaculata 15 8
T-10. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 11 9
T-10. Chautauqua Lake 11 10
Also receiving votes: Falconer and Newfane.


St. Mary’s wins volleyball title
Buffalo News
October 13, 2014

The St. Mary’s of Lancaster girls volleyball team won the Garden State (New Jersey) Invitational by sweeping Penfield of Section V in the final, 25-20 and 25-15. 

The big point-getters on the day for the Lancers were Leah Meyer (78 kills), Ashley Drzymala (58 kills) and Bailey Dolegowski (153 assists).

St. Mary’s knocked off last year’s champion Immaculate Academy of New Jersey in the semifinals, 25-16, 26-24. In earlier rounds they beat Good Council of Maryland and Walter Panas of New York.

It was the Lancers’ third tournament victory along with the Eden and St. Mary’s Tournaments. St. Mary’s improved to 20-0 having lost just one set this season.

U.S. Women's Volleyball Wins Historic World Championship
USA Volleyball Press Release
October 12, 2014

MILAN, Italy (Oct. 12, 2014) - Team USA made history on Sunday, beating China 3-1 (27-25, 25-20, 16-25, 26-24) and winning the first world championship gold medal for the U.S. Women's program at the FIVB World Championship at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan.

The U.S. Women had never before won gold at any of the three major international volleyball events: World Championship, World Cup or Olympic Games.

Kim Hill, who was discovered at the Women's National Team's annual open tryout in February 2013, was named the tournament "Best Spiker" and "Most Valuable Player." She led the U.S. in the decisive title match with 20 points, going 19 on 31 attempts with only one fault. She also had 13 digs and 25 excellent receptions on 39 attempts.

"I feel ecstatic and happy and just cannot believe it is real," Hill said. "The award was a surprise and I still cannot believe it either, it is just amazing. Tonight it is everything. Eating, drinking and we are just going to celebrate being together."
Alisha Glass was named the tourney's "Best Setter." She had 36 running sets, 53 still sets and four faults.

"I can't find the words," Glass said. "I am incredibly proud of this team, of the USA Volleyball organization, everybody that played a part. It was such a team win. We did something that's never been done. This is only the beginning. We're going to get better and better."

U.S. Head Coach Karch Kiraly became the fourth person to win a World Championship gold medal as both a player and a coach. He won as a player at the 1986 World Championship in Paris.

"We came here to make history and we made it," Kiraly said. "It was a tough battle. I would like to congratulate Lang Ping and her team. They played a marvelous tournament. After we got a 2-0 lead we knew China would never give up. It was a battle to the end and they have some great young players, as do we. I hope that we will be playing against each other in the future. It is just good for the sport to have teams with such history performing at a high level."

Captain and middle blocker Christa (Harmotto) Dietzen, who had knee surgery in December, dominated the net with 15 points and seven crucial blocks. She was not 100 percent in this tournament. She hadn't played with the National Team since May. 

But Sunday, she and fellow Olympian Foluke Akinradewo, gave the U.S. a 14-9 advantage in blocks. Akinradewo scored 14, with 9 kills on 15 attempts, with three blocks and two aces. (Sunday was Dietzen's birthday.)Opposite Kelly Murphy scored 13, 11 of 39 attempts, with two blocks.

The three majors are the Olympic Games, the World Cup, and the World Championships, which began for women in 1952. The U.S. has earned two silvers (1967 and 2002) at Worlds and three at the Olympic Games (1984, 2006, 2010).

The day was full of more history. Kiraly won his first of three Olympic gold medals 30 years ago in Los Angeles as an indoor player. China's coach, "Jenny" Lang Ping also won a gold medal in the 1984 Games as her team beat the United States for the Olympic crown. Lang Ping coached Team USA to a silver medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

On the road to Sunday's title match, this young U.S. squad with five players in their first or second season with the National Team, defeated Russia, the two-time defending World champion, twice, and Brazil, the two-time defending Olympic champion in the semifinals.

USAV World Site | FIVB World Site | FIVB Match Page | Official FIVB Stats | DataVolley Stats
Sunday's Starting Line-up
Setter: Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.)
Opposite: Kelly Murphy (Wilmington, Ill.)
Middle Blocker: Christa Dietzen (Hopewell Township, Pa.), Foluke Akinradewo (Plantation, Fla.)
Outside Hitter: Jordan Larson-Burbach (Hooper, Neb.), Kim Hill (Portland, Ore.)
Libero: Kayla Banwarth (Dubuque, Iowa)
Sunday's Stat Leaders
Points: Kim Hill, 20; Christa Dietzen, 15; Foluke Akinradewo, 14
Kills: Kim Hill, 19 kills, 1 faults, 31 att.; Kelly Murphy, 11 kills, 8 faults, 39 att.
Blocks: Christa Dietzen, 7, Foluke Akinradewo, 3
Aces: Foluke Akinradewo, Jordan Larson-Burbach, 2
Digs: Kayla Banwarth, 17; Jordan Larson-Burbach, 14; Kim Hill, Alisha Glass, 13
Sets: Alisha Glass, 36 'running' sets on 93 attempts
Excellent Receptions: Kim Hill, 25 of 39; Kayla Banwarth, 17 of 28 att.; Kim Hill, 10 of 23 att.

China has won two Olympic (1984, 2004), three World Cup (1981, 1985, 2003) and two World titles (1982, 1986). Coach Ping played on four of those title-winning teams and she served as the U.S. women's head coach at the 2008 Olympic Games. 

The World Championship, held every four years, is the largest FIVB major championship with 24 teams competing in four groups. In the first round, the Americans played in Pool C with Russia, Netherlands, Kazakhstan and Mexico in Verona. In the second round the U.S. competed in Pool F with Brazil, Serbia, Turkey and Bulgaria with two matches in Modena and Verona. For the third round, the U.S. played Italy, Russia, Brazil, and China.

Follow along with @USAVolleyball and #FIVBWomensWCH on Twitter and Instagram.

Gold-Medal Match
Oct. 12 ... USA vs. China ... USA wins 27-25, 25-20, 16-25, 26-24 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Third-Round Matches 
Oct. 8 ... USAvs. Italy ... Italy wins 25-23, 25-22, 25-20 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Oct. 9 ... USA vs. Russia ... USA wins 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 25-23 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Oct. 11 ... USA vs. Brazil ... USA wins 28-18, 29-27, 25-20 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Second-Round Results 
Oct. 1 ... Turkey ... USA wins 27-29, 25-19, 25-23, 25-15 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page 
Oct. 2 ... Bulgaria ... USA wins 25-17, 25-19, 25-16 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Oct. 4 ... Serbia ... USA wins 25-22, 25-20, 25-22 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Oct. 5 ... Brazil ... Brazil wins 25-23, 25-22, 25-21 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
First-Round Results 
Sept. 23 ... Mexico ... USA wins 19-25, 25-11, 25-20, 25-14 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Sept. 24 ... Kazakhstan ... USA wins 25-15, 25-20, 25-22 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Sept. 25 ... Netherlands ... USA wins 29-27, 25-21, 25-18 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Sept. 27 ... Thailand ... USA wins 25-15, 25-23, 25-20 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page
Sept. 28 ... Russia ... USA wins 34-32, 25-19, 29-31, 26-24 | USAV Story | FIVB Match Page

TEAM USA | 2014 FIVB World Championships
# - Name ... Position ... Height ... Hometown ... College

1 - Alisha Glass ... Setter ... 6-0 ... Leland, Mich. ... Penn State 
2 - Kayla Banwarth ... Libero ... 5-10 ... Dubuque, Iowa ... Nebraska 
3 - Courtney Thompson ... Setter ... 5-8 ... Kent, Wash. ... Washington 
6 - Nicole Davis ... Libero ... 5-4 ... Stockton, Calif. ... USC 
9 - Kristin Hildebrand ... Outside Hitter ... 6-1 ... Orem, Utah ... Stanford 
10 - Jordan Larson-Burbach ... Outside Hitter ... 6-2 ... Hooper, Neb. ... Nebraska 
12 - Kelly Murphy ... Opposite ... 6-2 ... Wilmington, Ill. ... Florida 
13 - Christa Dietzen ... Middle Blocker ... 6-2 ... Hopewell Township, Pa. ... Penn State 
14 - Nicole Fawcett ... Opposite ... 6-4 ... Zanesfield, Ohio ... Penn State 
15 - Kim Hill ... Outside Hitter ... 6-4 ... Portland, Ore. ... Pepperdine 
16 - Foluke Akinradewo ... Middle Blocker ... 6-3 ... Plantation, Fla. ... Stanford 
19 - Kelsey Robinson ... Outside Hitter ... 6-2 ... Bartlett, Ill. ... Nebraska 
21 - Tori Dixon ... Middle Blocker ... 6-3 ... Burnsville, Minn. ... Minnesota 
22 - Rachael Adams ... Middle Blocker ... 6-2 ... Cincinnati, Ohio ... Texas 

Head Coach: Karch Kiraly 
Assistant Coaches: Jamie Morrison, Marv Dunphy
Technical Coordinator: Joe Trinsey 
Athletic Trainer: Jill Wosmek
Doctors: Dr. Andrew Gregory and Dr. William Stetson 
Medical Support: Dustin Glass
Consultant Coaches: David Hunt, Jamison Van Niel 
Team Manager: Denise Sheldon

Starpoint finishes the job
Buffalo News
October 12, 2014

Starpoint beat Lockport, 25-11, 25-16, to win the title of the West Seneca Girls Volleyball Tournament at the Buffalo Niagara Court Center. The event featured 15 teams.

The Spartans went 6-0 in pool play and beat Kenmore West in the quarterfinals and West Seneca West in the semifinals.

Erica Bradley led the team in kills and Aren Schwab played well in the front and the back. Starpoint had been runner-up the last two years.

Albion girls volleyball repeats
Buffalo News
October 11, 2014

The Albion girls volleyball team clinched the Niagara-Orleans League title for the second year in a row with a win in three games over Newfane.

Kelsee Soule had nine kills and six digs and Chanyce Powell added five kills and four digs. Newfane played Albion tough in the first game, 25-22, but Albion played smarter over the next two games to win 25-9, 25-16.

In its 10 league wins, Albion has not lost a game.

St. Francis volleyball set for October stretch
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports
Friday October 10, 2014

The month of September may not have gone the way St. Francis would have liked, but it was expected. Now that October has arrived, the Red Raiders believe they have had ample time to tighten things up and make an unexpected run through the local volleyball scene.

“We talked about playing for October a lot, and now that we’re in October, I think we’re trending upward,” said St. Francis volleyball coach Andy Lanigan. “I knew September was going to be rough just because it was the first time playing together. I think we went through six different lineups, but I’m set on this one.”

Including tournament appearances, St. Francis posted a 3-10 record with a 2-1 mark within the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association at press time.

Gregory Jacobs is the lone senior on a roster full of juniors and sophomores.

“I knew we were going to be young. I knew that we had a lot of talent,” said Lanigan. “It’s just a matter of how we’d play in our league and big stages because these are a lot of first-year varsity guys.”

The squad is led by co-captains Jake Kaempf and Brandon Schweickert, a pair of juniors in their third season on varsity that are already relied upon as leaders on an inexperienced team.

“It was going to be a slow year because we have a lot of young kids,” said Kaempf, a libero. “We just wanted to focus on fundamentals and see how it played out. It’s surprising how good we’ve done because we battled hard with teams like OP.”

“Last year we had a lot of seniors,” said Schweickert, the team’s setter. “The team was energetic and there was a lot of skill. But this year we’re closer as a team and have better chemistry.”

Larry Durski, another junior, has been a big help for Frannies in the middle while sophomores Cody Smith and Connor Cummings have also been important pieces.

James Barry, Nicholas Batchev, Matthew Boehringer, Michael Casciano, Brett Dobinski, Chad Emilianowicz, Thomas Hayes, Gregory Jacobs, C.J. Luksch and Sean Taggart can also be seen making plays on the court for Lanigan.

“I like where we’re at… 2-1 in the league in to start October,” noted Lanigan. “We have four straight home matches against league opponents. That’s good for us. We play a lot better at home than on the road.”

Defending MMA champion Canisius comes to town on Oct. 10 for the first match between the two private schools of the season. With the potential to enter the game with just one loss, Lanigan likes his chances against the MMAA boys volleyball powerhouse.

“I think we’re going to do some damage,” said Lanigan. “A lot of people don’t expect us to do anything. But we’ve talked about it all year to play with a chip on their shoulder because nobody’s expecting us to do anything. These guys are starting to buy into it and I’m excited. I’m always excited.”

Clarence ends title drought
Buffalo News
October 10, 2014

Clarence clinched its first girls volleyball ECIC I championship since 2002 Thursday with a three-set win over Orchard Park. Scores of the match were 25-19, 25-21, 25-21.

Meghan Meelon had 13 digs, 11 kills and 10 assists for the Red Devils (17-1, 11-0), while Karley King had 13 kills and Gabbi Pacatte recorded four aces, seven kills and eight digs.

Clarence’s only loss this season is to Penfield of Section V.

“I feel very proud for the girls,” fourth-year Red Devils coach Michael Meyer said. “They came in with a lot of talent and expectations. They worked hard. They still have more to do but they put in the work and it’s showing on the court.”

Hutch-Tech wins league title
Buffalo News
October 9, 2014

There’s a new girls volleyball champion on the Buffalo block.

With a sweep of International Prep at Grover Cleveland, Hutch-Tech won the Buffalo Public Schools league title. It’s the first time in 26 years someone other than City Honors won the league championship. The Centaurs left the Buffalo Public School league to play as an independent this year.

Lynda Brundige had seven kills and two aces in the 25-9, 25-13, 25-7 win for Hutch-Tech.

Quakers outlast West Seneca West in five-setter
BRANDON KILIJANSKI Sports Reporter Orchard Park Bee 
October 9, 2014


Orchard Park senior outside hitter Martin Hackford, right, registers one of his 25 kills against West Seneca West on Oct. 1. Hackford was a major factor in the Quakers winning the five-set thriller. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


It was a roller coaster ride for the Orchard Park boys volleyball team against West Seneca West on Oct. 1.

Right from the start, the match had a feeling that it would last five games and sure enough it did.

The two teams split the first four sets and then the Quakers took control in the fifth set to win the match 25-19, 27-29, 25-18, 23-25, 25-18.

“We were coming out here and the goal was just to win,” head coach Matt Lexner said. “We had lost pretty badly to them at home and they’ve got a streak on us that was three in a row so we wanted to end that. Whether it was in three, four or five games we just wanted to get a win and get moving back in the right direction.”

Orchard Park was down 12-9 in the first game but rallied back thanks to strong serving by senior outside hitter Martin Hackford. He put together back-to-back aces to give Orchard Park a 17-15 lead and they didn’t look back from there. 

Even though West won the second set, they still could not stop Hackford on the outside who was just starting to get hot. Junior setter Spencer Eagleton used Hackford as his security blanket to score.

Eagleton recorded 17 assists in the second set and Hackford had nine kills. 

It was the same story in the third game as Eagleton continued to set Hackford and West couldn’t stop it. Out of Eagleton’s 16 assists in that game, Hackford had seven kills.

“He was phenomenal in those two games; back row, front row and everything,” Lexner said.

While Hackford was getting the majority of the sets, Eagleton didn’t abandon using his middle blockers. The duo of seniors Jeff Biddle and Jordan DeRosiers combined for seven kills in the third set.

“Running the middle is all we’ve been trying to do,” Lexner said. “We’ve got two of the biggest and strongest middles in Western New York. If we keep working at it, the rest of October we will force the middle. We couldn’t get the ball to the middle all the time against West Seneca West, and if we did, the match could’ve gotten away from them.”

The score of the fourth set didn’t seem too bad for Orchard Park (23-25) but in reality it was a game to forget. The Quakers were out of rhythm and fell victim to compounding simple mistakes.

It took Hackford to serve three consecutive aces at the end of the set in order for Orchard Park to cut the deficit to 23-24, but then West managed to score afterward.

“In volleyball there are routine plays, including passing free balls and taking care of the ball on your side of the net, and we didn’t take care of the ball,” Lexner said. “When one thing goes wrong it compounds and that’s been our problem all year trying to find a way to stop this compounding of errors.”

Orchard regrouped for the fifth set and went to work on the serving line with seven aces. West had a very hard time passing Hackford’s jump serve. Even when Orchard Park wasn’t getting aces, they still managed to force West out of system.

The match-winning point came after West sent over a free ball and in transition Eagleton set Biddle for an easy kill.

“We are trying to serve tough and it showed that we’ve been working on it,” Lexner said. “As you get the feel, you can increase the speed. We just kept it on them and it did force them to pass at the 10 or 15 foot line.”

Hackford finished the match with 25 kills and six aces while junior outside hitter Jason Manley registered 12 kills. Biddle finished with 10 kills and three blocks.

With the win, Orchard Park improved to 4-4 in ECIC Division I. In the latest Western New York Coaches Poll, Orchard Park moved up to No. 6. 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

Lady Quakers easily sweep West Seneca West
BRANDON KILIJANSKI Sports Reporter Orchard Park Bee 
October 9, 2014

Coming off a disappointing four-game loss to Williamsville North on Monday, the Orchard Park girls volleyball team responded with a dominating sweep on Tuesday.

Against Williamsville North, the Lady Quakers won the first set but then lost the next three. Afterward, head coach Greg Lardo talked to the team about getting back to playing an aggressive style that Orchard Park is accustomed to.

On Tuesday, Orchard Park traveled to West Seneca West and won in convincing fashion 25-19, 25-8, 25-18.

“The main focus was just staying calm and relaxing during the play,” Lardo said. “Not over thinking things or getting out of character. We need to just stay mentally charged in the game.”

The first set was tight up until senior Shaye Swiatek went back to the serving line with the score tied at 19-19. Swiatek used a knuckling float serve to run off the final six points and win the game.

Orchard Park used the float serve to their advantage all night as they racked up seven aces in the final two sets combined.

“Serving is a weapon we try to use and it was nice to see it show up tonight,” Lardo said after the win.

The second set was just a straight up rout as the Lady Quakers won by 17 points. West Seneca West took their first timeout early when Orchard Park took a 7-3 lead. The move didn’t slow Orchard Park down as they went on to win nine out of the next 10 points to take a 16-4 lead. 

From there, Orchard Park kept the pressure on with their serve. Fittingly, senior Annika Thomas finished out the game with an ace.

Swiatek was versatile in the game finishing with three kills, an ace and three assists. Senior Riley Moll had a solid game on the outside registering four kills and an ace.

“We looked like a team that knew what we were doing,” Lardo said. “It looked like West shouldn’t have belonged on the court with us and that’s how we want to play every team.”

In the third set, Orchard Park continued to serve tough as senior middle blocker Olivia Jacobs ran off back-to-back aces to give them a 13-8 lead. Two points later, Jacobs served another ace to give the Lady Quakers a commanding 15-8 lead.

In that game, Orchard Park did a solid job at keeping the ball in play and forcing West to send a free ball back over. In transition, setters Liz Chow and Swiatek were able to set their middles with a variety of one-balls, back-ones and wides.

“We weren’t perfect tonight, but for the most part they fixed it and spiced it up with some [middle] sets that we’ve been working on for weeks,” Lardo said. “Those should be a part of the offense.”

Freshman Sadie Joba also got into the act by registering a pair of kills on the outside. It was a nice outlet for Orchard Park having Joba capable of killing the ball on each swing.

“We know we have to keep it in when the set isn’t there and go after it when it is. We wanted to stay aggressive tonight and it felt good,” Lardo said.

Orchard Park will travel to Clarence on Thursday for a game against the top ranked team in the Western New York Large School Coaches Poll. Currently, Clarence has an unblemished 9-0 record in ECIC Division I.

The Lady Quakers are now ranked No. 9 in the poll.

Iroquois girls volleyball tops EA in ‘Dig Pink’ match
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter East Aurora Bee
October 9, 2014


Iroquois’ Elena Grossman winds up for a kill attempt during the Lady Chiefs’ 25-18, 25-17, 25-22 victory over crosstown rival East Aurora in Monday’s “Dig Pink” match. Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Iroquois’ girls volleyball team used the momentum it gained in posting a close 3-2 win over Starpoint Friday to take out crosstown rival East Aurora Monday, 25-18, 25-17, 25-22, in this season’s annual “Dig Pink” match designed to raise funds for breast cancer research and awareness.

Preliminary tallies peg the squad’s efforts that night resulting in between $2,500 and $2,600 raised for the cause, which bumps the Lady Chiefs’ three-year total to nearly $8,000.

“Any amount of money that we can raise to help in the fight against this horrible disease is well worth it,” Iroquois coach Laura Carlson said. “It really was an awesome night. To show up at three and see that the hallway essentially as a blank canvas on a regular school and then, 45 minutes later, to see streamers and signs and tables being prepared for basket raffles because the girls are all working so feverishly, it was almost indescribable.

“Having the community support that we have, with fans wearing pink and even the East Aurora girls being as supportive as they were too, it’s just so great. We acknowledged all of the current survivors and current battlers of the disease at the match, and the women who stood up at that time got a great response from the crowd.” 

Once the match actually got underway, Iroquois used a solid serving performance from Marissa Parker in the second game — she rattled off 10 straight points during one run — to help secure the win. Julia Winkle added 25 assists, while Lauren Lajewski had four kills. Parker also had five kills, while Elena Grossman had three blocks.

Iroquois entered the “Dig Pink” match looking to do well after topping Starpoint on Friday, 27-25, 27-29, 22-25, 25-23, 25-22. The match, which echoed how things played out during their earlier meeting, went back and forth until the fifth game. Fans were getting a bit rowdier than what is acceptable, but Carlson noted that the Lady Chiefs were able to tune out those off-the-court distractions and focus on doing what they needed to do in the decisive fifth game to secure the win.

“I think, with where we’re at right now, a match like this taught the girls to stay focused and be confident,” Carlson said. “For them to stay focused on the game and not be distracted by the rowdier fans, it was huge. We were letting those outside influences take control of how we were playing earlier in the match, but fortunately we persevered. I think Julia’s settling everyone down played a big role in that.”

Parker led the way for Iroquois with 15 kills, two blocks and eight digs, while Najewski added 14 kills. Elena Grossman chipped in with 13 kills and three blocks, while Winkle dished out 45 of the team’s 49 assists on the day and also had six digs, three kills and two blocks.

“Melissa Geil really did a great job of being focused defensively and getting the ball back to the setter so that we could get some kills,” Carlson said. “Michaela Hoeflich had some great serves too, a couple of which were rockets that got us back in the game. It was just nice to see some of our older girls be the calming influence. That’s what we need with the playoffs approaching.”

Starpoint was just what Iroquois needed after falling to Williamsville South (14-24, 14-25, 22-25) on October 1 and Williamsville East (10-25, 17-25, 11-25) on September 29. Carlson noted that her players were virtually locked into place against both Williamsville squads, which certainly hampered the Lady Chiefs’ opportunities to be aggressive offensively.

“South was able to hit our defensive weaknesses because it was like our feet were in concrete against them,” Carlson said. “We just seemed to be a step away from getting a lot of balls up that day. I certainly believe that we could’ve won that match if we had had a little more confidence.”

Parker had six kills, three aces, two blocks and two digs to guide Iroquois against South, while Winkle had 16 assists. Najewski had five kills against East, meanwhile, and Grossman had four blocks. Winkle had 15 assists against the Lady Flames.

“The East match came down to a lack of confidence and us just not moving to the ball,” Carlson said. “Some of our serves didn’t go well either, and neither did our back row attack when we tried that. The girls are showing they’re capable of success, but we’ve got to put everything together with a little more consistency.” The Lady Chiefs returned to action Tuesday against Hamburg, but information about that contest was not available at press time. Iroquois resumes play October 9 against West Seneca East, and then faces Sweet Home on Tuesday.

“Everyone is showing improvement and doing the stuff they’re supposed to be doing so that they’re contributing in their own way, but the plan now is to do those things with a little more consistency,” Carlson said. “We’re going to work hard in practice every day so that we’re not just handing teams wins in three sets. It all starts with our passing, because if we can’t pass the ball we can’t run an offense.

“If we can just keep being positive and keep working hard under pressure, I think we can come out on top.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Cheektowaga Central girls volleyball wins two of last three
Cheektowaga Bee
October 9, 2014

Cheektowaga’s girls volleyball team began to put all of the pieces together during its most recent run, posting wins in two of its three contests to improve to 3-3 in ECIC III play.

The Lady Warriors’ most recent win, however, came at the expense of non-league foe Roy-Hart on Monday. A couple of injuries opened up playing time for everyone dressed for the match, and co-coach Denee Hickson was pleased with what she saw from her players.

“Having a full roster of 16 girls, it is so hard to get girls playing time, especially when you are seeking consistency on the court,” Hickson said. “Everyone got a chance to play and had an impact in the win. It was just nice to see those girls get excited and do well.”

Taraya Fisher had four blocks and five kills for the Lady Warriors, who won in three (25-18, 25-23, 25-16). Brittany Adamczyk and Lexi Macadlo “served the Rams off the court,” according to Hickson,” while Lauren Onisk also added three aces for the Lady Warriors.

“Brittany and Lexi kept our momentum going throughout the entire match,” Hickson said. “I was so proud of all of our girls, especially the ones who seldom get to play. They stepped up and proved they can handle the pressure and contribute greatly.”

Cheektowaga entered Monday’s match looking to do well after coming out on top of its match with crosstown rival Maryvale (25-5, 25-16, 25-21) on October 1.

Jena Ponosny, Boston Kistka, and Shawnn Foster led Cheektowaga’s attack, while Macadlo served up 12 aces. Kistka chipped in with six aces as well for the Lady Warriors, who were playing in front of a packed house.

“Our girls were on fire,” Hickson said. “Everything we have worked on finally came together, and it was so much fun to be a part of.”

The Maryvale match helped Cheektowaga right its ship after the Lady Warriors fell to East Aurora two days earlier in a five-set thriller (10-25, 25-16, 12-25, 25-20, 21-25). Cheektowaga, which topped East Aurora earlier in what Hickson called “an up and down season from the start,” couldn’t overcome “moments of weakness” on our part and “bouts of toughness” on East Aurora’s part in suffering the loss.

“We just didn’t play our game and gave them too many opportunities to overcome our offense — which they took complete advantage of,” Hickson said.

Cheektowaga returned to action Tuesday by hosting Springville, but information about that match was not available at press time. The Lady Warriors close out their week by traveling to Depew on October 9 before participating in the BNCC Tournament in West Seneca on Saturday.

JFK girls volleyball team stops Lackawanna on Senior Night
Cheektowaga Bee
October 9, 2014

John F. Kennedy’s girls volleyball team took out league rival Lackawanna in the Lady Bears’ Senior Night game September 29, winning in comeback fashion by 25-21, 21-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22 scores. 

Senior Jaclyn Smith had nine aces and 12 assists to help guide JFK’s attack, while fellow senior Jamie Kuwik added nine kills. Senior Lauren Gulczewski chipped in with 10 service points for JFK, which also recognized seniors Jessica Christ, Rebecca Pathammavong, Jessie Tanget and Kylie Urbanczyk for their dedication to the program.

“The seniors really stepped it up this game and it was nice to be able to see them end their last game on their home court on a good note,” coach Amanda Moran said. “It was enjoyable to see everyone support each other and come together as a team for this win.”

The victory was JFK’s first since the Lady Bears had posted consecutive wins over Maryvale on September 17 (25-17, 25-15, 25-19) and Tonawanda on September 19 (13-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-11).

Smith had 15 aces in the win over Maryvale, while Kuwik had 13 kills in a match where Moran said “the girls simply played their game and did what they were supposed to do. It was a complete team effort and I was very proud of their effort.”

Against Tonawanda, Smith had 16 assists, Kuwik had 12 kills, Gulczewski had five digs and Victoria Getz served up six aces.

“The girls all worked together and it was nice seeing them finally play with the intensity and aggressiveness I know they have,” Moran said.

JFK also recently lost to Eden and Alden in three on October 1 and October 3, respectively, but Moran was pleased that the Lady Bears were able to score 14 points against Eden in one of the sets. Kuwik had six kills to pace JFK’s effort against Eden.

“We started out playing very well against Alden and were very consistent, but they just got the better of us in the end,” Moran said. “I can say that we have gotten better in regards to our service errors; we are giving up less and less points due to missed serves. We just have to keep working and hope that things will eventually fall into place.”

JFK (3-9 overall) returned to action Tuesday at crosstown rival Cleveland Hill, but information about that contest was not available at press time.

The Lady Bears resume play at Tonawanda on October 9, but then don’t play again until they host Hutch Tech on Tuesday.

“We just need to stay consistent and not allow the simple mistakes that we’ve been making to continue,” Moran said. “We also need to work on keeping up our intensity and communication throughout the entire game no matter what the score is, and capitalizing on every scoring opportunity we get. We can only hope to make a run in the playoffs and have everything finally fall into place. I see the potential of this team when they’re focused and playing how they should be; when those things happen, they are doing very well.”

Lancaster boys VB ranked third in WNY
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Lancaster Bee
October 9, 2014


Lancaster junior middle blocker Connor Schultz swings at a quick attack with no block against Clarence on Thursday. Lancaster dropped the first set but managed to take the next three and win the match. Photo by Jim SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


With only one loss in a wide open ECIC Division I, the Lancaster boys volleyball team finds themselves ranked third in the latest Western New York Coaches Poll.

Lancaster was able to move up one spot in the poll after defeating Clarence on the road on Thursday. Clarence won the first game 25-23 as they took advantage of Lancaster making 19 errors.

“They didn’t have to do a whole lot to win that game,” Lancaster head coach Jason Stang said.

But Lancaster cleaned it up and went on to win the next three sets 25-17, 25-23, 26-24 to take the match. The difference was that Lancaster eliminated their hitting and blocking errors.

“We have talented hitters, but sometimes we try to do too much with the ball and that gives other teams free points,” Stang said.

With the win, Lancaster improved to 7-1 in the division and 13-3 overall. On Wednesday Lancaster played at Williamsville North but results of that match were not ready at press time.

Previously, Lancaster won the Sweet Home Tournament championship on Sept. 20. Lancaster finished 5-1 after pool play games against Niagara Wheatfield, St. Mary’s and Hamburg, which was good enough to advance into the championship bracket.

Lancaster then defeated Hamburg in the semifinals and Clarence in the finals to take home the title. Junior outside hitters Kenny Rudz and Jay Baumann led the offense that day. Baumann was named as the tournament’s most valuable player while Rudz was selected to the All-Tournament Team.

“That could have been flip flopped. Overall it’s the consistency of play that they bring,” Stang said.

Distributing the ball is senior Tyler Witt in his first year running a 5-1 offense. He’s not the tallest setter out there, but Stang said he has been impressed with the way he’s improved this year.

“We don’t get a lot of kills without him putting the ball in good places,” Stang said. “He has improved reading the weaknesses of opponents and not being obvious when he’s going to set the middle or not. We are a team on the edge of being very good. Teams are waiting to beat us because we took the first match from them.”

Filkov sisters welcome youngest to volleyball team
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports
Thursday October 9, 2014


Jasmine Filkov, North Collins’ MVP in 2013, was the first of her sisters to play varsity for Doug Burgstahler three years ago. Photo by Dave Eckhardt.


The final day of seventh grade at North Collins had ended not too long before Rose Filkov finally got the good news.

The youngest of her volleyball playing sisters, Rose believed that she had done well enough on junior varsity and improved even more with her Niagara Frontier Volleyball travel team that she would move up to varsity with her high school sisters – Jasmine and Angela Filkov.

In fact, Jasmine and Angela knew. Not only did they know Rose was talented enough, they also knew of head coach Doug Burgstahler’s plans to bring her up to varsity for her eighth grade year for the upcoming fall season.

They just chose not to tell her.

“My sisters actually came up to me. I didn’t know. They found out two weeks before they told me,” said Rose, explaining that her sisters waited to tell her because they thought she’d act different if she knew. “I’m like ‘I’m just going to be on JV this year,’ and they said ‘No, you’re going to be on varsity.’”

Come September, Rose, Jasmine and Angela Filkov were all playing on North Collins’ volleyball team together. Rose fit in immediately, taking the reins at libero for a team that began the season undefeated.

“Rose is a huge part of our team,” said Burgstahler. “She played JV last season, worked really hard over the summer and now she’s our starting libero. She’s absolutely so fast, her passing is unbelievable, her digs are great. She’s just as much of an integral part of our offense as her sisters.”

Angela, a sophomore, and Jasmine, a junior, have each been on varsity since they were in eighth grade, just as Rose will.

Jasmine got an early start on volleyball when Burgstahler noticed her when she was in the fourth grade. She would practice with the junior varsity and sit in on games until she was finally able to play in seventh grade.

She moved up to varsity as an eighth grader and has been a valuable asset on the team since her arrival.

“She pretty much controls everything out there,” said Burgstahler. “She’s on pace to being our MVP again this year.”

Jasmine was on varsity for a year before Angela was moved up during her eighth grade year.

“I pretty much knew she was coming up. She was good,” Jasmine said about Angela. “We needed another person on the team and she just fitted our needs at the time. She’s a good passer and now she’s our setter.”

Although Angela had more than one year to test the varsity waters before Rose came along, there were no sibling rivalries, as she has always enjoyed playing with her sisters, whether it be in the backyard or at North Collins.

“I love and playing with Jasmine, and I love playing with Rose this year, too,” Angela said. “It’s not that different. It just adds more to the team.”

The Filkov sisters are just three of four children, as Rose has a twin brother, Tome, whom also plays volleyball, but outside of school as North Collins does not have a boys team.

North Collins began the year with a 9-0 record in large part to the Filkov sisters, and the addition of Rose. Although she figured her time to play varsity would come soon, she just hoped that her sisters already being there would not be the reason.

“I wanted to go up because I thought I would get better doing it. I didn’t want them to move me up because they got moved up,” Rose said. “I wanted them to move me up because of my skill level.”

And that’s exactly why Burgstahler moved Rose up, as with her older sisters. The trio can be seen controlling the volley on plenty occasions during contests, with one setting, one passing and the other going in for the kill.

It is moments like those when the Filkov sisters are reminded how much of a joy it is to play with each other. And they have at least one more year together.

“It’s exciting because I love playing with them. I was excited back then and I still am now,” said Jasmine.

Boltz becomes Bears’ leader
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports 
Wednesday October 8, 2014


Hannah Boltz has been nothing less than a team player at Immaculata Academy as a senior. Photo by Dave Eckhardt.


Team player… leader… captain.

Say those words around Immaculata Academy and the volleyball team and listen for Hannah Boltz’s name to come up.

Only in her second season on the varsity volleyball team, Boltz has been as consistent of a competitor as there is on the court, and she has been able to channel her talents into a leadership role.

As talented of a player Boltz has been, it came time for her to take on a larger role for her senior campaign. And she has.

“I stepped up to be more of a leader,” said Boltz. “Just getting everybody together, making sure everyone knows their role and being there for different girls, letting each other know what their problems are and how to fix them and finding different ways to bring us more together.”

Teammates, fans and opponents alike unquestionably saw her leadership at its peak on Sept. 29, when the Bears played defending Monsignor Martin Athletic Association champion St. Mary’s to a 3-1 contest.

Though they may have lost in four sets, Boltz and her team were able to take a set from the winners of the last 15 MMA titles. St. Mary’s had defeated all of its opponents in straight sets before that.

“We were all clicking and working together and our enthusiasm was up,” said Boltz. “We were just out there having fun.”

Boltz laid down 10 kills and six digs against St. Mary’s. Karly Kurkowiak chipped in with 13 digs while Boltz’s co-captain, Sarah Bain, put up 23 assists and 12 digs.

“In the first game we saw that we were doing pretty well,” Boltz noted. “We were working together and moving around. In the second game we felt like we were there and we had it.”

Taking a set in the match against St. Mary’s was bittersweet for Boltz and company, who were able to take the first set from the Lancers in recent memory. The Bears lost to the Lancers in the 2013 MMAA title game.

“I feel like it carried on over from last year to this year that we don’t play as one person, we play as a team,” Boltz explained. “That’s usually our main focus.

Also a softball player, Boltz wanted nothing more than to bond with her team for her final volleyball season.

“Coming into my senior season I just wanted to worry about playing tough and working together and bringing the team together as one,” she said. “That’s my main goal.”

Boltz had led the Bears to a 6-3 record on the year at press time. Immaculata dropped its first two regular-season contests before bouncing back and fixing holes throughout the lineup.

“In the beginning we hit a couple of bumps, but as the season went on we figured out our problems and we’re learning how to fix them,” Boltz said.

Boltz and the Bears will have plenty of opportunities to fine tune their lineup before her senior season is over. They are scheduled to participate in the Pitt Sutherland Tournament on Oct. 11 before hosting Cardinal O’Hara on Oct. 14 and Mount St. Mary’s six days later on Oct. 20.

Immaculata will look forward to making another postseason run when the MMA postseason begins on Halloween, but for Boltz, all she is worried about is the chemistry she helps create within her team.

“I’d just be satisfied knowing that we all tried really hard and that all my friends and my other captains worked hard together and that we battled it out to the last point,” Boltz said.

Ballou's spending last volleyball season together
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports
Wednesday October 8, 2014


Kailey, left, and Meghan Ballou hope to capture one final state championship together. Photo by Dave Eckhardt.


Though the ending was inevitable, it was difficult for Kailey and Meghan Ballou to see it coming.

Meghan, a junior, may have only spent the last three-and-a-half years playing volleyball at Eden with her sister, Kailey, but the two have been inseparable since they were young.

A pair of two-sport athletes that have done everything together for their entire lives, the Ballou sisters are now in their final volleyball season together as Kailey’s senior season is well underway.

“I’ve been on sports teams with Kailey since we were little,” said Meghan, who also plays on the girls varsity basketball team with her sister.

“We get along really well on the court and during a play we can help each other out. It’s easier for me to play with her. I like playing with her more than any other player because we know each other’s style of play.”

As a freshman, Kailey was already on varsity when Meghan was pulled up to join the team for a state championship run. Having spent many years playing with each other in some capacity, they got used to each other real quick.

“We’ve played together for a really longtime, so I was used to it,” Kailey said. “It’s just fun. On the ride home we can talk about the game and how we played. It’s just easier to communicate on the court with her.”

The Ballous are just one of a few successful sister duos in recent memory winning state championships at Eden.

Kendall and Lainy Pierce enjoyed state championships together as Raiders before the two moved on to Penn State.

Twins Hailee and Hannah Herc just finished their college volleyball careers; Hailee played at Stony Brook while Hannah went to Kent State. They are also cousins to the Ballous, along with their younger brother, Hayden, who plays on the boys varsity volleyball team at Eden.

“It’s a sister duo, but it’s also a cousin-quad because their two cousins were former stars for us years ago,” said Eden head coach Stephen Pierce, who recently surpassed 800 career coaching wins and is closing in on the Section VI wins mark. “When the Hercs were playing, the Ballous were little kids playing with the ball. But they’re both excellent players in their own right.”

With a team that does not have as much experience as past rosters, Kailey and Meghan have quickly grown fond to their new roles.

“Kailey is quite an experienced player now,” said coach Pierce. “She has developed into a leader. She’s more of a go-to player this year. We really rely on her offensively. She’s not tall, but she’s still one of our two top hitters and at crunch time we like to go to her to score points.

“Meghan has good height and has got a lot stronger and it has helped her game considerably.”

As both found themselves starting in their respective freshman seasons, the Ballous immediately began playing huge roles for the state powerhouse. But as the older talent graduated, their roles became much more integral this fall, especially for Kailey, who has been named a co-captain alongside her classmate, Bri Tutuska.

“It’s fun to be able to set examples,” Kailey said. “And with this year being a captain, it’s a new role with being a leader and I can help everyone out. And with Meghan being my sister I want to help her become really good.”

With a tournament title at Frontier under their belts and the only regular-season loss coming at the hands of perennial power St. Mary’s in five sets, Kailey and Meghan are well on their way to helping Eden make another run to the state finals.

There is no other way Kailey and Meghan would want to end their high school careers together than capturing a fourth state crown.

“I’m going to be sad when Kailey leaves because I’ve been playing with her since we were little,” Meghan said. “It’s going to be really emotional if we make states…those last few points…with it just being the last game. I’m going to miss playing with her.”

Girls volleyball outlook: A young Eden squad is in good hands with Pierce
By Mary Jo Monnin | News Sports Reporter Buffalo news
October 8, 2014


Eden girls volleyball coach Stephen Pierce at Eden High school on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. . (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)


Some people wear their emotions on their sleeve. Stephen Pierce wears his written in ink on the back of his hands.

The longtime Eden girls volleyball coach has the letter K written on the back of his left hand and a C on the back of his right. It stands for keep calm, and serves as a reminder during matches that Pierce has a young team that needs nurturing.

“It’s a lot of youth, a lot of emotion, you just have to keep talking to them, building up,” said Pierce, who also has written a D and a Y on his hands for “don’t yell.”

Molding young teams into winners has been the building block of Pierce’s teams. The Raiders have won the last five New York State titles and the last 14 Sectional titles in 21 seasons at Eden. He recently passed Section VI legend and retired Sweet Home coach Sally Kus as the winningest coach in the state.

Pierce has 803 career wins following Tuesday’s three-game victory over Holland. Kus won 792 matches, with a mere 29 losses, in 23 years at Sweet Home, according to her records. Her Panthers won six consecutive state titles and set the national record for consecutive wins with 292 between 1978-1987.

The totals for both coaches represent wins while coaching for one school. The totals include victories in pool play at tournaments.

Although their high school coaching careers didn’t overlap, Pierce and Kus coached together for a decade of summers. Pierce first met Kus as a young coach in the ’80s while working his way through grad school at the University at Buffalo. He counts her as one of his most influential and inspiring mentors along with his former high school coach Joe Gillespie. 

“What always most impressed me about Sally was the immense generosity with which she shared any knowledge, anecdote, pearl of wisdom, or X and O tactic with any coach who needed help,” said Pierce. “She was always eager to spread the growth of the sport, not just secure her legacy. While she was climbing the ladder of success, she always made sure that she left it intact for others to follow.”

After retiring from Sweet Home, Kus coached at Daemen College, UB and coached the last five years at Cuba-Rushford. 

“I think Stephen is the finest technician around,” Kus said. “I have also seen him tear apart opponents as a tactician. He has both the qualities of a great coach and a passion for the game. He’s a colorful guy to watch coach, which adds to the fun. What’s really super are the great coaches produced from the players in the ’80s. They are now maturing into wonderful role models for kids and the next generation of coaches, which really makes me feel old … but happy.”

Eden is at the midway point of its season ranked No. 2 among small schools in Western New York, behind St. Mary’s. His lineup at times has included an eighth-grader, a freshman and three sophomores, many of whom are playing new positions. Two seniors, four-year player Kailey Ballou and three-year player Brianna Tutuska, have been stabilizing forces. Like all young teams, the Raiders have had their ups and downs, winning the Frontier Tournament and then struggling at their own Eden Tournament.

Pierce said his team is learning to play with confidence. Some day, he might have the clean hands to prove it.

Centaurs go independent

The big news coming out of City Honors is that the Centaurs are playing as an independent in Section VI and no longer participate in the Buffalo Public Schools league. 

City Honors was seldom challenged in the city, evidenced by their 26 titles in a row.

The team is 5-1 so far and has played in three tournaments with its best finish a victory in the Silver Flight of the Sweet Home Tournament.

“We are adjusting to the changes of being independent, playing most of our contests away,” said coach Debbie Mantos. “We understand we can no longer celebrate the title of Buffalo Public Schools city champions, but we welcome the challenges we prepare for every day.”

Five-foot-10 outside hitter Maura Gribbins, a varsity team member since seventh grade, has played every position on the floor, including libero.

Junior setter Julia Panepinto is a team leader who has earned the respect of her teammates as well as opponents.

Junior Makaila Banks is a versatile hitter with a 30-inch vertical leap. She keeps the team loose.

Around the nets

Clarence is the No. 1 ranked large school in WNY. Sophomore setter Meghan Neelon leads the team with 135 kills and 33 aces. “She is a fiery competitor and has instilled the same refuse-to-lose attitude that helped carry her and her U15 club team to a national title this spring,” said coach Mike Meyer.

Neelon was MVP at the Sweet Home Tournament and all-tournament in Clarence’s own tournament.

Senior outside hitter Gabbi Pacatte has put up some big numbers, including a team-leading 105 digs. Meyer said she’s the emotional heart and soul of the team.

Junior OH Karley King moved from middle to the outside with ease. She’s another member of the U15 club national championship team. Her confidence grows with every match.

Williamsville East, two time defending ECIC II champion, is on the verge of a three-peat at 11-0. The current No. 2 ranked large school Flames have been carried all season by five returning starters – Carly Shifflet, Natalie Berrafato, Lexi Novak, Bridget Sleap and Samantha Mendelsohn.

Frontier’s captain, McKyla Brooks, has verbally committed to Stony Brook, where she will play volleyball and run track. She was named second team All-State and first team All-Western New York a year ago after leading the Falcons to the Section VI title. The four-year starter is flanked by three-year starter Taylor Kaznowski.

Hamburg coach John Crangle is working with a group of seniors who are the last class that was with him six years ago when he took over a program that had won just one match in two years.

Senior Taylor Hite has committed to Division I La Salle. She is a fifth-year varsity player, a Coaches All-WNY pick and has won three sectional titles.

Senior Lauren Moelbert is weighing a verbal commitment with a Division II school. She’s a fourth-year varsity player and an all-ECIC player with two sectional titles. 

Senior Emilee Niejadlik also expects to play collegiately and has played in two sectional finals.

North Tonawanda is 8-0 so far and is looking to repeat as Niagara Frontier League champion.

Senior outside hitter Gabby Hansen leads the Jacks in kills, aces and digs in her fourth season as a starter. Senior OH Leanna Metzger is another four-year starter and is the team’s primary passer and defensive player. Setter Kayla Higgins and middle Julie Milbrand bring three years of experience as starters.

Grand Island (7-2) hopes to catch North Tonawanda with Lindsay Proctor, a four-year varsity player who leads the team offensively and senior libero Brianna Brandon, who is strong on the serve receive and defense.

Niagara-Wheatfield has been one of the contenders in the Niagara Frontier League led by libero Lauren Wills, whose defense keeps her team in matches, OH Kalie Sonnenberg, who earned captain honors with her intensity and drive, and OH Kali Yeates, an all-around player who is strong on the attack.

Cattaraugus/Little Valley/Ellicottville (10-2) boasts 6-2 middle Ashlee Harvey (11 kills per match) and 6-1 sophomore setter Marissa Hamilton (21 assists, 8 digs per match).

First-year Lancaster coach Becky Schrantz-Edwards has a new starting lineup led by captain and floor leader Emily Ast.

Freshman Julia Kurowski leads the offense with 59 kills. Senior middle blocker Lauren Kowalczewski follows with 54 kills. Edwards was the JV coach for 11 seasons under Sue Pernick. She was an All-WNY player for Pernick in 1998.

Niagara-Orleans League leader Albion is 8-0 with a solid nucleus. Junior OH Kelsee Soule is a solid all-around player who does “everything,” according to coach Ann Capacci. She calls her a humble player who serves as an example on and off the court.

Sophomore middle hitter Chanyce Powell has the physical tools to be an all-around player. She has fast feet and can hang in the air. She leads the team in blocks and is second in aces.

Junior setter Meghan Hurley gets to a lot of balls and loves to compete. Team captain Sara Millspaugh, an all-league pick a year ago, is a solid passer and hitter.

Alden is 8-2 and trails only Eden in ECIC IV. Natalie Schieder is a two-time league all-star and a two-time captain. Coach Tania Martzolf said she is a versatile player who sees the court well and has great ball control.

Kenmore East contends with hitters Sara Taylor, Paige Palmer and libero Megan Hess, who is fearless in all her attempts to keep the ball up.

Lockport sophomore Kathryn Krchniak (13 digs, 10 kills per match) always wants the ball a crucial times.

Braillen Hare (12 digs per game) played on 15U Niagara Frontier Club travel team this past year

Senior OH Hailey Bechtold (13 digs, 7 kills) is the Lions’ most consistent on the court.

St. Mary’s (22-0) doesn’t just have one of the best middles in the country with Leah Meyer. Senior Ashley Drzymala was all-WNY first team last year along with Meyer. Jessica Kranz, Alyssa Zirnheld and Bailey Dolegowski serve as junior captains.

The Lancers have won the past 13 Monsignor Martin Association titles, the last three they have gone undefeated.

McKenna Maycock of Randolph continues to be one of the Section’s most fierce and talented competitors. She’s also a 2,000-point scorer in basketball and can dominate any event she chooses in track and field.

The three Williamsville schools are ranked in the Top 5 among large schools. Madison Clark of South has verbally committed to UB. She’s a 6-1 setter who is quick with great hands. She was a member of the Billies’ state championship softball team in the spring. Her older sister, Brianna, is playing softball at Niagara. … Southwestern and Chautauqua Lake lead their respective divisions in the CCAA with 9-0 records. … Nardin has a promising young player in junior Mary Marusza. Over the summer she participated in the USA Women’s volleyball high performance training camp in Colorado Springs, Colo. … Orchard Park looks to play deep into the Sectionals with seniors Donnett Hickson, Riley Moll and Shaye Swiatek. … Julia Winkle has been a mainstay as a setter for Iroquois for the last five seasons.

email: mmonnin@buffnews.com

Fierce hitter Meyer keeps the volleyball spotlight on St. Mary’s 
Duke is next stop for fierce hitter who overcame early struggles to realize Division I dream

By Mary Jo Monnin | News Sports Reporter Buffalo News
October 8, 2014


Leah Meyer has St. Mary’s ranked 52nd in the country by prepvolleyball.com. The Lancers take a 22-0 record into this weekend’s Garden City Invitational in New Jersey. Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News


If you were watching a girls volleyball match and knew Leah Meyer only by reputation, it wouldn’t take long to figure it out which one she is.

She’d be the only player on the floor going up for a kill and sending the ball screaming to the floor with no chance of return. Meyer is a pancake specialist, a libero’s nightmare, and the rest of the kids on the floor aren’t real excited about seeing her accelerate toward the net.

“The only fault she has? She tries to put the ball through the floor every time,” said St. Mary’s coach Donnie Pieczynski. “Sometimes you just can’t do that. She can dominate from anywhere along the net, middle outside, right side, there’s not a set she can’t hit.”

Most years the player considered the best in Western New York is a subject of debate. This year it isn’t.

Meyer committed to Duke University as a sophomore and will make it official next month when she signs her national letter of intent.

Coaches often talk about an athlete who is their “once-in-a-lifetime player.” Meyer is Pieczynski’s. 

“Absolutely, I’ll probably never coach a more dominating kid,” said Piecznyski, who also coaches Meyer through his Niagara Frontier Volleyball Club.

The senior middle hitter was ranked as the 45th best player in the country by Prep Volleyball.com. She’s considered a big hitter and a big blocker and has a hitting percentage of an unheard of .500.

“While Meyer’s reach and strength alone make her a force at the net, her competitiveness makes her special,” the site wrote. “Meyer should be an instant starter at Duke.”

Meyer began receiving letters of interest from colleges at age 13, after participating with her Niagara Frontier volleyball team in the USA Volleyball National Championship in Atlanta. One of those letters was from Duke, currently ranked 23rd in the country.

“It was actually my first college letter I got when I was in eighth grade so that kind of sparked my interest from the beginning,” said Meyer. “The minute I stepped on campus I knew that was actually where I belonged.”

It was during her official visit to the Durham, N.C., campus that she accepted Duke’s offer. Blue Devils coach Jolene Nagel took Meyer and her family to the top of the iconic Duke Chapel at the center of campus. At 210 feet, it is one of the tallest buildings in Durham County. 

“I told my coach while I was on top of the chapel that I wanted to play for her,” Meyer said.

But Meyer’s path leading her to the floor of Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium wasn’t always so clear. She had some growth-related injuries on her way to 6-foot-3, and she remembers how out of reach her Division I dreams seemed when she was sitting the bench on her sixth and seventh grade teams.

“I wasn’t the strongest player on the team. I sat the bench most of the time,” Meyer said. “I always used to say I really want to play Division I volleyball, and people said ‘You’re going to have to work really, really hard,’ and ‘I don’t know if it’s going to be possible.’

“That motivated me the entire time, so don’t ever give up on anything.”

As an eighth grader her club team made it to nationals in the open division. In her first year at St. Mary’s she was named to the “Frosh 59” as one of the top freshmen in the country by PrepVolleyball.com. Her sophomore year saw her earn state Gatorade Player of the Year and become one of 10 sophomores named a high school All-American. More honors followed as a junior, including her second state Gatorade Player of the Year citation and second All-America honor.

Eden coach Stephen Pierce has seen some tremendous players come out of Western New York and, like Pieczynski, thinks Meyer may be the best. That includes players from those state championships teams from Sweet Home and City Honors. The two coaches contend the game is very different today from what it was in the late-’80s and early ’90s, when club volleyball wasn’t so big.

“There were huge pockets of the United States that didn’t even play club volleyball,” Pierce said. “The athletes are so physical. So for someone like Leah who is coming from a developing area like Western New York, to be able to compete as a physical player with anyone in the nation, that’s saying something. If you watch the girls from Penn State and Texas, those girls are physical and Leah can match up. She’s there.”

With a scholarship waiting and a 99 academic average, Meyer could easily look past what got her there, but that’s not in her DNA.

“People always ask about me and they never ask about my teammates,” she said. “I would be nowhere without my teammates. This high school team is my family in school and out of school. We do absolutely everything together. And the coaches are my second parents. Donnie has done so much for me the past couple years. I would not be where I am today without him.”

email: mmonnin@buffnews.com

Albion volleyball wins
Buffalo News
October 7, 2014

Kelsee Soule had seven aces, eight kills and 13 digs as Albion moved to 12-1 overall with a win in three games over visiting Pembroke of Section V. 

The Purple Eagles are 8-0 in the Niagara-Orleans League and would clinch the title by beating Akron or Newfane this week. The team has not lost since a Sept. 3 setback against Byron-Bergen.

East girls volleyball defeats South in four
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
October 8, 2014

In front of a couple hundred fans, Williamsville East’s girls volleyball team improved to 11-0 in ECIC II with a 25-16, 25-21, 23-25, 25-23 home win over Williamsville South on Friday.

“Our offense and defense played well,” East coach Scott Wright said.

South led East, 20-14, in the fourth game with the serve but momentum switched after one of South’s starters went out of the game. East outscored South, 11-3, to close out the game.

“We played better in the third and fourth games,” South coach Tom Sproull said. “Our service errors and hitting errors went down.”

Carly Shifflet (25 kills, 19 digs) and Lexi Novak (22 kills, 9 digs) led East. Natalie Berrafato added 49 assists. Sam Mendelsohn and Bridget Sleap both posted 17 digs.

East opened the week with victories over Iroquois, 25-10, 25-17, 25-11 on Monday, Sept. 30 and Lake Shore, 25-15, 25-15, 25-22, on Wednesday.

Shifflet and Novak recorded 10 kills against Iroquois and Shifflet had 15 kills against Lake Shore.

East hosted Lancaster on Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

East honored its seven seniors: Sleap, Berrafato, Olaya Najerro, Madison Cicero, Laryssa Melynk, Tori Thuman and Alex Sommer. They travel to Starpoint on Thursday. 

Williamsville South 

The Lady Billies downed West Seneca East, 25-13, 25-16, 25-22, at home on Monday, Sept. 29; and at Iroquois, 25-14, 25-14, 25-22, on Wednesday.

South’s side out percentage in the first set against West Seneca East was 71.4 percent, meaning that South broke West Seneca East’s serve 71 percent of the time. South recorded eight aces and had a 62 percent hitting percentage against Iroquois.

No individual stats were provided for either match.

South traveled to Sweet Home on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. 

Williamsville North 

The Lady Spartans suffered their second ECIC I loss of the season against Clarence, dropping a four-set contest at home on Wednesday, 25-20, 22-25, 20-25, 20-25.

“It was a great match,” North coach Keith Hopkins said. “In the second game, there was a call that went against us and contributed to us losing the game. We were right there in the third and fourth games. We were down 22-20 in the third game and they hit a couple good serves.”

“But the girls played hard. They have three players who can hit some bombs - Meghan Neelon, Gabbi Pacatte, and Karley King – and our players dug the living daylights out of it. Unfortunately, you can’t always be the nail. You have to sometimes be the hammer. We just could not get enough kills.”

Noelle Gulick served well and recorded 10 kills and six blocks. Elise Hopkins (6 kills), Alyssa Curtis (8 kills), Kailee Terrance (28 digs) and Lauren Schreiner (17 digs) also contributed for North.

The Lady Spartans rebounded the next day with a 25-17, 25-20, 25-17 home win over Jamestown.

Schreiner led the team with 12 kills and 13 digs. Terrance posted 23 digs. Katie Topolski served received well. North scored 11 points off Gulick’s serving.

North (8-7-1, 7-2) hosted Orchard Park on Monday and travel to Frontier on Tuesday, but information about the games was unavailable before press time. They host Lancaster on Thursday. 

Sweet Home 

The Lady Panthers improved to 6-3 in ECIC II and 7-3 overall with three-set wins over Starpoint, 25-17, 25-15, 25-17, at home on Monday, Sept. 29 and at West Seneca East, 25-13, 25-22, 25-17, on Wednesday.

Sweet Home was paced against Starpoint by Rachel Reusch (18 kills, 5 blocks, 2 aces, 3 digs); Claire Hiwiller (20 assists, 2 aces, 2 kills, 4 digs); Emily Carver (4 kills, ace, block); and Victoria Rigler (10 digs).

“It was a total team effort,” coach Breean Martin said. “A lot of girls played roles that they normally don’t play and did well.”

Leading the Lady Panthers against West Seneca East were Reusch (26 kills, 2 aces, 3 blocks, 4 digs); Carver (4 kills); and Hiwiller (30 assists, 4 kills, 3 aces, 6 digs).

“We struggled a little bit in the second game,” Martin said. “West Seneca East got on a serving run and they started taking the lead and we sided out and came back from a six-point deficit.”

Sweet Home traveled to Lake Shore on Monday and hosted Williamsville South on Tuesday, but information about the matches was unavailable before press time. They host Hamburg on Thursday.

Cheektowaga snaps Amherst volleyball’s three-game win streak
Amherst Bee
October 8, 2014

The Amherst boys volleyball team (4-6, 4-4) saw its three-game win streak come to a end with a 20-25, 14-25, 19-25 loss to Cheektowaga on Thursday.

Amherst was coming off wins at Holland, 25-14, 25-9, 25-7, on Wednesday, Sept. 24; and home victories over East Aurora, 25-23, 25-10, 25-13 on Friday, Sept. 26; and Maryvale, 32-30, 18-25, 25-20, 29-27 on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

It was the second time Amherst lost to Cheektowaga. The Tigers also fell on the road to the Warriors, 18-25, 25-26, 23-25, on Thursday, Sept. 11.

“In both matches versus Cheektowaga, we couldn’t find a response to their strong play at the net,” Amherst coach Paul Wlosinski said. “Cheektowaga continued to bring an attack, even after we made digs. We struggled to respond with our own attack at the net. A couple blocks by Cheektowaga took some of our excitement after a couple lengthy rallies.”

Wlosinski said when the team traveled to Holland they started playing more as a team. 

Leading the Tigers were: Ethan Ahuna (10 kills, 5 digs); Nick Patterson (6 kills, 12 digs); Tom Greco (3 kills, 4 aces, 5 digs); Mike Hidalgo (19 assists); and Ben Touma (8 digs).

Wlosinski said once the team squeezed past East Aurora in the first game, they established control of the match right away in the second game.

“We seemed to be upset with our play in game one and weren’t about to lose,” Wlosinski said. “We played the rest of the way with confidence.”

Pacing Amherst were Patterson (11 kills, 7 digs); Ahuna (7 kills, 3 blocks); Hidalgo (18 assists); Greco (8 digs, 3 aces); Eric Niblock (7 digs) and Conor Brinkworth (2 aces).

Amherst’s win over Maryvale concluded a season sweep for the Tigers.

“They definitely wanted revenge but we were resilient,” Wlosinski said. “Anytime the score of games were within five points, the game could have gone either way. It’s often a matter of minimizing your errors and points that are given to the other team.”

“We fought hard to get the win in game one. We were up, then down, then back up and then back down, but we persevered to gain the all important win in the first game. In game two, we fell victim to too many errors and gave too many points to Maryvale. In game three, we settled down and played smarter. Maryvale played with desperation in game four, but our team wouldn’t let that happen. A last minute run by Maryvale was shut down by some great passes and important serves. We put them out of system with good placement.”

Leading the Tigers were Patterson (9 kills, 11 digs, 4 aces, 3 blocks); Greco (8 kills, 21 digs); Ahuna (10 kills, 4 blocks); Niblock (4 kills, 8 digs); Brinkworth (5 digs); and Touma (5 digs).

In Amherst’s first win over the Flyers, an 18-25, 25-22, 17-25, 25-15, 25-19 road victory on Monday, Sept. 8, Wlosinski said the team seized control of the match about halfway through the fourth game.

“We brought a strong serve and some great defense even towards the end of the match,” Wlosinski said.

Leading the Tigers were Patterson (9 kills, 7 digs); Ahuna (4 kills, 6 digs); Greco (6 kills, 4 aces, 21 digs); Hidalgo (17 assists, 8 digs); and Touma (5 digs).

Amherst also posted losses against Eden, 12-25, 17-25, 15-25, at home on Tuesday, Sept. 16 and a road defeat against Depew, 21-25, 21-25, 25-21, 22-25, on Thursday, Sept. 18.

“Eden continues to be a powerhouse in our division, but our team put forth the effort to make the match competitive,” Wlosinski said. “At Depew, our setter, Mike Hidalgo, was sick, so we had Nick Patterson play as setter — as he has the previous two seasons — but we weren’t completely comfortable with a new lineup and changed roles.”

Amherst traveled to Williamsville East on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. The Tigers travel to Eden on Wednesday and host Depew on Thursday.

Clarence Girls volleyball wins own tourney, three other matches
Clarence Bee
October 8, 2014


Clarence’s girls volleyball team knocked off Lockport (25-16, 25-13) in the championship match to claim the title at its own recently held Invitational Tournament. Members of the squad include, from left: front row - Meghan Neelon, Gabbi Pacatte; middle row - Jaide Cummings, Maddie Storr, Lauren Barnes, Emily Kuhn, Maddie Christopher; back row - Graycie Enderby, MacKenzie Georger, Angie Riniolo, Karley King, Amanda Gross and Melissa Ratzel.


Clarence’s girls volleyball team continued to roll through the competition over the past week and a half, kicking off its recent run with a championship in its own annual tournament before closing things with a 3-0 sweep of West Seneca West to improve to 15-1 on the season.

The Lady Red Devils’ string of successes began with a romp through pool play in the Clarence Invitational Tournament on September 27, as Clarence swept Lockport, Maryvale and Sacred Heart. The Lady Red Devils then defeated Mount St. Mary (25-19, 25-18) in the semifinal and Lockport (25-16, 25-13) in the final to claim the title.

Gabbi Pacatte was named tournament MVP, while both Meghan Neelon and Karley King were named to the all-tournament team.

“The girls played well all day as a team, with every girl on the roster having a chance to participate,” coach Mike Meyer said. “MacKenzie Georger had several kills in pool play and Angie Riniolo served five aces in a row at one point. Eighth grader Jaide Cummings played very well at libero and had several digs. Gracie Enderby continues to improve as right side attacker and Amanda Gross is growing into her role as defensive specialist. New varsity middles Melissa Ratzel and Emily Kuhn are becoming an important part of our attach and blocking defense, and Melissa has shown herself to be a clutch server too. Maddie Christopher also continues to improve as a sophomore setting on varsity. Lauren Barnes has provided a settling influence as starting libero.”

The Lady Red Devils then took the momentum from their tournament title and started their second run through league play on September 29 by squashing Lancaster (25-19, 25-13, 25-10) thanks to the team’s “playing some of their best volleyball yet.” 

Neelon served seven aces, all in the third game, and ran off 10 straight points to end the game, which Meyer said “was a huge deal.” Pacatte also had eight kills and 15 digs — she’s leading the team in digs “by a long shot,” Meyer said — while Barnes chipped in with 14 digs.

“Gabbi and Lauren gave us so many more chances to attack with their ability to get the number of digs that they did, and that’s huge,” Meyer said. “Lancaster played us tough at their place, and we split with them next day in a tournament so we really wanted to start the second half of league play with a really good effort. Karley has also really come along too; she’s up there now leading the team in kills in some of our matches. She’s been really helpful to us offensively as of late.”

The Lady Red Devils then took out Williamsville North two days later (22-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-20) in a crucial match that had implications on the league standings. Meyer gave North credit, acknowledging that the Lady Spartans “came out probably playing the best defense that I’ve ever seen played” — but the Lady Red Devils ultimately found their rhythm following their loss in the first set.

“We probably attacked the ball 70 times in the first game, without exaggeration — but we definitely responded though,” Meyer said. “We realized it would take us playing great defense and continuing to be relentless on attack to win. It really was some match, and an important one since they only had one loss after the first time through league play.”

Neelon led the way for Clarence with 19 kills, while Pacatte added 17 kills and 13 digs.

King chipped in with 14 kills.

“I told the girls after the game that I was proud of the fight they showed,” Meyer said. “After that first game where we threw everything we had at them and lost, we took that as a challenge. The fight our girls put up was definitely something to witness.”

The Lady Red Devils then closed out their week by shutting out West Seneca West (25-23, 25-10, 25-11) to improve to 9-0 in league play and take a big step towards locking down the divisional title. Pacatte had seven kills to pace the team offensively, while King and Neelon each added six kills. Cummings and Barnes combined efforts to collect 20 digs, while Gracie Enderby chipped in with a couple of great attacks.

Christopher “continued to play really high level volleyball as a first-year varsity setter,” Meyer said.

“The girls took care of business on their home court,” Meyer said.

Clarence (9-0 league) returned to action Tuesday against Jamestown, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Lady Red Devils travel to Orchard Park Thursday and then hit the road to face Frontier Tuesday in their league finale.

“We just have to keep improving on our efforts and keep staying focused on the goal of improving so that we’re playing our best volleyball at the end of October,” Meyer said. “If we can do that — and that’s going to come down to focus and playing together — we should definitely have a good shot at making that happen.”

(Reporter Jason Nadolinski contributed to this article.)

Clarence Boys volleyball wins marathon with Flames
Clarence Bee
October 8, 2014


Thomas Eckert puts all of his focus into hitting the ball during the Red Devils’ 25-23, 17-25, 23-25, 24-26 loss to Lancaster Thursday. Photo by James SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Williamsville East’s boys volleyball team took Clarence to the absolute limit on September 30 before ultimately succumbing to the Red Devils in a five-set marathon for the ages.

The Red Devils, whose only “easy” set against the co-leaders in ECIC II was their 25-12 win in the opening set. The teams traded wins back and forth over the next three sets, with the Flames taking the second (25-22) and fourth sets (25-19) and Clarence taking the third set (25-18) to set up the decisive fifth set.

Both teams had several match points in the fifth set, but it wasn’t until senior David Cummiskey collected the decisive kill with Clarence holding a 35-34 lead that the Red Devils could finally secure victory.

“We had Rob Kuberka back playing middle for us for the first time since our tournament on September 6, and as nice as that was for us, it required some adjustment for Rob and for the other five guys on the court, since hitting and blocking assignments changed when he came back,” coach Kevin Starr said. “After the first game, it looked like we might be good to go, but East blocked us better than any team we’ve played this season.”

Senior setter Matt Dempsey had 52 assists on the night, while senior outside hitter Tommy Ecker had 19 kills. Cummiskey finished with 18 kills from the right side, while sophomore outside hitter Henry Payne added 17 kills.

Lapses in defensive focus two nights later allowed Lancaster, which shares the ECIC I lead, to pull out the 23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 26-24 victory over the Red Devils. Starr noted that the Red Devils “had too many uncharacteristic errors” to where “several times, we were just a little bit out of position and the ball hit the court where we should have been playing,” but also noted that his squad adjusted well in the third and fourth sets. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to overcome Lancaster’s earlier play.

“We’re using this match as our springboard for the rest of the season,” Starr said. “We fully expect to see Lancaster again in the sectional semis or finals, and we think we know what to do to get over the hump and play our very best against them. This is a highly motivated and very talented group of guys, and our practice on the day after the match was one of our best of the season.”

Dempsey had 40 assists, Payne had 16 kills and Ecker added 13 to pace the Red Devils’ efforts. Kuberka got back into the mix with seven kills, while Cummiskey added six for Clarence (4-3 ECIC I), which returns to action by hosting Hamburg on October 8. The Red Devils close out their week at Williamsville North Friday.

Thunder volleyball easily sweep O’Hara
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Ken-Ton Bee 
October 8, 2014

In a battle of two Ken-Ton volleyball teams, Mount St. Mary’s won in convincing fashion against Cardinal O’Hara on Sept. 30 at home. The match didn’t last long as the Thunder won in a sweep with each game decided by double digits 25-7, 25-9, 25-10.

Mount St. Mary’s used a full day of strong serving to get O’Hara out of system, which ultimately decided the match.

“Our serving was great, we were pretty dominant,” said Thunder head coach Brittany Schukraft. “We ran a lot of quick attacks on them and were aggressive. Defensively they didn’t throw anything back at us so we were able to focus offensively that day.”

Mount St. Mary’s has been working on serving at particular zones rather than at players. Each time a Thunder server is at the line, Schukraft gives them a spot to hit and they have been excelling at that recently. They have been successful and confident with a variety of float serves, as well as a couple girls that can jump serve.

“We kept the ball in play which kept [O’Hara] out of system and we got a lot of free balls,” Schukraft said. “We could be aggressive and we executed our free ball offense really well.”

Senior Julie Fleming led the Thunder offense with seven kills and two aces. Junior Katherine Oliveri had an impressive day at the serving line as she finished with six aces. Oliveri — who is a transfer from Niagara Wheatfield — scored a total of nine points from the serving line in the match.

Senior setter Maria Pedini recorded 15 assists in the match.

“She is solid for us, and defensively she is a big help as well,” Schukraft said. “Her serving is good and she’s a great leader on the court. She’s been running quick attacks a lot better and we’re continuing to improve.”

Prior to the win against O’Hara, the Thunder reached the semifinals of the Clarence Tournament on Sept. 27. In pool play, Mount St. Mary’s defeated East Aurora twice and then split their two-game matches against both Kenmore West and Chautauqua Lake. The Thunder took second place in the group, which was good enough to advance into the championship bracket.

In the semifinals, Mount St. Mary’s matched up against the host school and let the match slip away through their fingers. According to Schukraft, the Thunder had momentum and were controlling the match, but ruts of poor ball control allowed Clarence to come back and win.

Mount St. Mary’s led by seven points in the second set, but couldn’t manage to finish it off with a win.

“Overall I was pleased with the outcome,” Schukraft said. “Tourna- ments are long days, so keeping focus is a big goal for us. Our defense and hustle kept us in the game against Clarence and we served tough too.”

Senior Elise Kreuz registered five aces against Clarence and was named to the All-Tournament Team. Kreuz was effective both offensively as she put balls away on the outside, but she also played solid defense as well.

“Defensively, she is our entire back row. She moves well all around the court,” Schukraft said. “She made a lot of digs that were awesome and she covered the tips which saved us a lot of the time. Offensively, she was putting the ball away aggressively from anywhere on the court.”

Mount St. Mary’s is currently 6-3 in the Monsignor Martin Association and 7-4 overall on the year. 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

Volleyball program begins at St. John the Baptist School
Ken-Ton Bee 
October 8, 2014


Ricky Panowicz, left, Nadia Shilen, Natalie Cook, Kaitlyn Annunziata and Anna Stang are supporters of the new volleyball program at St. John the Baptist School.


A junior high girls’ volleyball program recently started at St. John the Baptist School in Kenmore.

Coached by Johanna MacDonald, the team has a record of six wins and two losses to date.

Interest in developing a program in which girls could learn the game prompted the school to reinstate volleyball in its athletic program.

The team decided to host a fundraiser to raise the $1,000 needed to acquire the necessary equipment.

Eighth-grader Anna Stang made three fleece blankets featuring the Buffalo Sabres and Bills, Marvel comic book characters and Hello Kitty. The team sold tickets before school and during lunches and raised $500. Second-grader Nadia Shilen and kindergartners Ricky Panowicz and Natalie Cook were the winners.

The St. John’s Parent Athletic Association and an anonymous donor raised the remaining funds, enabling the team to purchase a new net, pole pads, cable pads, six balls and an antenna.

Western New York 2014 Boys Top 10 Poll - 10/7/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Canisius (12) 120 1
2. Eden 105 2
3. Lancaster 88 4
4. Hamburg 81 3
5. Clarence 79 5
6. Orchard Park 63 7
7. St. Joe's 45 8
8. West Seneca West 27 6
9. Lockport 25 10
10. Williamsville South 19 9


Western New York 2014 Girls Top 10 Poll - 10/7/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Clarence (8) 89 1
2. Williamsville East (1) 82 2
3. Williamsville South 59 3
4. Williamsville North 58 4
5. North Tonawanda 50 5
6. Frontier 47 6
7. Hamburg 46 7
8. Sweet Home 35 8
9. Orchard Park 20 9
T-10. Lancaster 12 10
T-10. Grand Island 12 NR
Also receiving votes: Lockport, Depew and Albion.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60 1
2. Eden 54 2
3. Nardin 48 3
4. Portville 30 4
5. Randolph 28 5
6. Mt. St. Mary's 27 6
7. City Honors 25 7
8. Immaculata 22 9
9. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 20 8
10. Chautauqua Lake 12 10
Also receiving votes: Falconer, Newfane and Southwestern.


Pierce breaks career coaching wins mark in Eden spikers' win over Holland
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Tuesday October 7, 2014 

A friend helped Stephen Pierce dig up his career win total over the summer. His mentor Sally Kus' wins mark at Sweet Home was etched in their mind after seeing it so many times on the pamphlets given out at the NYSPHSAA girls volleyball tournaments.

Before actually calculating all of his career victories, Pierce told Eden's athletic director, Marissa Fallacaro, that he should be approaching Kus' record around playoff time.

Last week, he emailed Fallacaro again to correct himself, sending a message that, unless the Raiders lost, the record-breaking match would come on Tuesday, Oct. 7.

That Tuesday came quickly and Eden defeated visiting Holland in straight sets, 25-6. 25-4, 25-11 for Pierce's 803rd victory, breaking the New York State mark that Kus set at Sweet Home for most coaching victories with a single program.

"It's really nice that I've been able to have a career. All those wins means that I've been able to interact with a lot of great colleagues," said Pierce, whose 11 state titles at Eden is also a state record. "Obviously, my two mentors — Joe Gillespie, who was my coach here at Eden, and then the incredible Sally Kus, whose record we broke today — these are people who've influenced me incredibly. Wonderful people. So it just means a lot that people like that and other coaches I've worked with are colleagues."

For the full story, read the Oct. 16 edition of The Sun.

GI defends volleyball title
Buffalo News
October 5, 2014

Grand Island won the eight-team Cheektowaga Tournament, beating Kenmore East in the final. The Vikings lost the first game, 20-25, but stormed back to win the next two, 25-20 and 25-21. Grand Island was the two-time defending champions. 

“They played lights out today,” said coach Jon Marcussen of the host school. “Both teams were pounding the ball at each other, playing great defense. Those two coaches, Bill Schultz at Grand Island and Kyle Horvatis of Kenmore East, really had their teams playing well.”

The Vikings were led a pair of juniors, Kyle Burns, a 6-foot-7 junior outside hitter and Brendan Sheehan, a 6-2 rightside. 

“We have a pretty well-balanced team, we have hitters at all positions who can get a kill here and there. Kyle especially took over the match at the end of Game Two,” said Schultz.

It was the second tournament victory for the Vikings, who also took the North Tonawanda Tournament.

Cheektowaga Tournament
Buffalo News
October 5, 2014



Finals Grand Island 20-25-25, Kenmore East 25-20-21 Semifinals Kenmore East 25- 18-25, Cheektowaga 22-25-19 Grand Island 25- 18-25, St. Francis 20-25-19 Pool A Grand Island 25-25, Cheektowaga 12-16 Kenmore West 25-25, Iroquois 17-13 Grand Island 25-25, Kenmore West 13-10 Cheektowaga 25-25, Iroquois 12-15 Grand Island 25-25, Iroquois 12-22 Cheektowaga 25-25, Kenmore West 18-19 Pool B Kenmore East 25-25, Maryvale 19-18 St Francis 25-25, Depew 17-13 Depew 25-25, Maryvale 17-15 St. Francis 18-25, Kenmore East 25-21 Kenmore East 25-25, Depew 19-18 St. Francis 25-23, Maryvale 14-25

East outlasts South
Buffalo News
October 3, 2014

The Williamsville East girls volleyball team beat rival Williamsville South in four hotly contested games to take over sole possession of first place in ECIC II at 11-0. The Billies fall to 9-2.

Carly Shifflet had 32 kills, including match point, along with 26 digs. Natalie Berrafado had 52 assists and 19 digs.

“They had a ton of fans, we had a ton of fans – it was a match you would have wanted to play in because the fan support was so great on both sides,” said East coach Scott Wright.

Clarence plays at Jamestown on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. with a chance to clinch at least a share of the ECIC I title, its first since 2002. The other top teams in the league have a least two losses.

The Red Devils moved to 9-0 in the league on Friday with a 25-23, 25-10, 25-11 win over West Seneca West. Junior outside hitter Karley King had six kills. 

Albion, coming off a win in five games win over previously undefeated Notre Dame of Batavia, beat Roy-Hart on Friday to move to 8-0 in the Niagara-Orleans League. Meghan Hurley had eight kills and six digs for the Purple Eagles.

Lancaster regroups
Buffalo News
October 2, 2014

Mistakes were hurting Lancaster.

In the first game the team had nine hitting errors and three serving errors. Lancaster needed to improve its play. And it did. They came back to earn a four-game win over Clarence in ECIC I boys volleyball - 23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 26-24.

“Once we cleaned up the errors we got more in a rhythm of playing,” Lancaster coach Jason Stang said. “It’s hard to play when the momentum goes down when you make an error and services mistakes.

“What we’ve been able to do well all season is come back from adversity. This is a team that if they’re focused throughout the whole match, the game becomes easy. Sometimes they lose it here and there but they’re good enough to pull it back.

“It’s mental. All these players at this level are playing well. It becomes a mental game. If they believe they do so much better.”

Kenny Rudz had 20 kills and Tyler Witt had 48 assists for Lancaster (13-3), the fourth ranked team in the WNY Coaches’ poll. Clarence was ranked fifth.

Meanwhile top-ranked Canisius cruised to a Monsignor Martin win over St. Mary’s – 25-10, 25-13, 25-13.

Trevor Gooch had 13 kills for the undefeated Crusaders, who grabbed all 12 first-place votes in this week’s poll.

EA girls volleyball squad beats Cheektowaga in five-set thriller
East Aurora Bee 
October 2, 2014

East Aurora’s girls volleyball team was taken to the limit Monday by Cheektowaga, but the Lady Blue Devils ultimately prevailed in posting the 25-10, 16-25, 25-12, 20-25, 25-21 victory.

Junior middle blocker Morgan Palmer “was a great contributor to the victory,” according to coach Rebecca Suchy, as she posted seven kills and eight blocks. Freshman outside hitter Julia Halsey “had an amazing game” with seven kills.

Suchy noted that the squad “has been going through an adjustment period” with bringing up freshmen Julia Halsey and Maddie McLaughlin from the junior varsity squad. Both are now starting outside hitters for East Aurora and “bring a lot of young talent to our team,” Suchy said.

“Our upperclassmen have been doing their best to help out with teaching Julia and Maddie our offensive and defensive plays,” Suchy said. “Both Julia and Maddie are quick learners, though, and Julia was a big contributor in Monday’s match against Cheektowaga.”

East Aurora (2-4 league) returned to action Tuesday by hosting Amherst, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Lady Blue will also face crosstown rival Iroquois at Iroquois Monday for a non-league “Dig Pink” match. All proceeds raised through various means at the match will go towards cancer awareness. 

EA boys volleyball endures defeats
East Aurora Bee 
October 2, 2014


East Aurora’s Brian Willert picks his spot on Maryvale’s side of the court to launch his spike attempt during the Blue Devils’ 3-0 loss to the Flyers on September 25. Photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


East Aurora’s boys volleyball team continued to come up short in its most recent outings, dropping to 3-5 overall on the season after losing three of its four most recent games.

The Blue Devils dropped 3-0 losses to Amherst on Friday and Maryvale two days earlier, and also fell to Cheektowaga by a 3-1 count on September 22. Coach Brian Zittel noted that the Blue Devils “seemed disinterested” in the Amherst match after losing the first game, but also said that they “gave a better effort in the elimination game” against Maryvale after just missing out on victory in a 30-28 second game.

Against Cheektowaga, the Blue Devils appeared to be spent physically and mentally in game four after entering the third game — which it lost, 30-28 — having split the first two games.

East Aurora did, however, begin its most recent stretch run with a 3-0 sweep of Holland on September 18. The victory came on the heels of the Blue Devils’ 3-2 win over O’Hara two days earlier. In the match with the Hawks, which Zittel called a “good character win,” libero Colin Ruhlin helped East Aurora’s cause with his “excellent” passing.

East Aurora has had to play with a bit of a diminished lineup as of late, though, as 6-foot-3 middle hitter Cal McTigue, whom Zittel called “our most consistent blocker,” has been out with a sprained ankle. Zittel is cautiously optimistic that McTigue can return to the lineup late in the first week of October.

Strong-side blocker Nolan Kramer’s injury is more serious, however. Zittel fears that the Blue Devils have lost him for the season after he fractured his collar bone two weeks ago.

“I think the guys really just need to understand that no one has dominated us except Eden,” Zittel said. “We’ve lost most games with high double digits on the board, so we’ve just got to keep our heads up. If we can show some heart and show we don’t want to lose, we could certainly have a good shot at winning some of those toss-up games.”

Zittel is also hoping that a switch from a 6-2 offense, with back row setting, to a 5-1 setup with front row setting can open up some additional offensive opportunities moving forward. He’s also hoping it could potentially help with the squad’s passing and setting.

East Aurora (1-5 league) returned to action Tuesday against Eden, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Blue Devils close out their week by hosting Depew on October 2, and then don’t compete again until they host Holland on Friday, October 10.

“We just need our leaders, Brian Willert and David Yerofeev, to lead us both on and off the court,” Zittel said. “Middle hitter Jason Farrell needs to continue with his strong net blocking presence and also become more aggressive on the offensive side. Jarrin Jaworski’s been showing great heart and hustle when called upon, and Cole Miliron, Russell Zagrobelny, Brad Mentecki are progressing and learning the game — especially when the situations allow them to come in off the bench.” 

Sports Briefs
Orchard Park Bee 
October 2, 2014

The Orchard Park varsity girls volleyball team defeated Jamestown in four games at home on Monday 25-17, 25-22, 22-25, 25-22. Senior Riley Moll led the Lady Quaker offense with 17 kills, while senior Shannon Tatay registered six kills and five aces. Defensively, senior libero Donnett Hickson recorded 21 digs.  

Quakers boys volleyball on pace to surpass last season
Orchard Park Bee 
October 2, 2014

At just about the midway point of the season, the Orchard Park boys volleyball team is 3-4 in ECIC Division I and 7-5 overall.

Last year, Orchard Park won just a total of three league games and nine overall. Heading into October’s schedule, head coach Matt Lexner is vying hard to get his team ready for sectionals.

“We’ve been in matches that we could have won,” Lexner said. “In the second half of the season, we want to get those wins back. There should be plenty of motivation the second time around. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve got to take advantage of the whole month ahead of us.”

Orchard Park enters October dropping their last two matches against Hamburg on Tuesday and Clarence on Sept. 24.

Orchard Park lost to Hamburg in a grueling five-set match 25-18, 18-25, 18-25, 25-17, 16-25. Hamburg is now currently ranked third in the Western New York Coaches Poll.

Against Clarence, the Quakers lost 25-23, 27-29, 17-25, 22-25 which gave Clarence head coach Kevin Starr his 400th career victory. 

In game No. 4, Orchard Park committed 17 errors.

“At times we played like a championship caliber team. But then we get into those little ruts and make mistakes,” Lexner said. “When we clean it up we are pretty good. We need to make sure we make the routine plays because good teams do that.”

Cleve Hill girls volleyball wins three straight
Cheektowaga Bee 
October 2, 2014

Cleveland Hill’s girls volleyball team improved to 6-4 overall last week behind an effort that resulted in the Lady Eagles’ current three-game winning streak.

The Lady Eagles’ run of success began September 18 with a 3-0 victory over non-league foe East Aurora. Ariana D’Agostino had five kills.

Cleveland Hill then took out Holland on September 23 in a 3-1 victory. Junior captain Kristina DiBlasio had seven kills and seven digs for the victors, while middle hitter Alicia Huff had three aces and four kills.

Cleveland Hill, which dropped a three-set match to Amherst the day before its streak started, most recently took out Lackawanna in four sets on September 25. Emily McIntosh led the defense with seven digs, while Mary Kate Mullen led the offense by setting up seven kills.

In between some of the matches, the Lady Eagles hosted their second annual tournament on September 20. The varsity squad came up just short of the championship at the hands of crosstown rival Maryvale, which coach Sheri Gund said will provide extra motivation for the squads’ non-league rematch on October 15.

Gund also noted that another crosstown rival, JFK, was Cleveland Hill’s opponent on September 15 when the Lady Eagles “played our best game to date” in stopping the Lady Bears by a 3-0 count. Mullen dished out 10 assists and had two blocks, while senior Samantha Bartle played well defensively and served up six aces.

“JFK is a long-time rival of ours who we never seem to be able to beat — but with a phenomenal team effort, we beat them this time in three sets,” Gund said.

Cleveland Hill (5-2 league) returned to action Monday against Eden and then took on Alden Wednesday, but information was not available at press time for either match. The Lady Eagles don’t play again, however, until they host crosstown rival JFK on Tuesday.

“With the season halfway through, we will need to make sure we stay focused to reach the individual and team goals we have set,” Gund said.

Central girls volleyball opens week with win, drops next two contests
Cheektowaga Bee 
October 2, 2014

Cheektowaga’s girls volleyball team was hoping to build off of its 3-2 win over Pioneer on September 23 for the rest of its week, but unfortunately for the Lady Warriors both Amherst and East Aurora had other plans.

Cheektowaga actually started its 25-20, 21-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-20 conquest of Pioneer slowly, but a lineup change proved to be the difference maker for the Lady Warriors. Lexi Macadlo, who co-coach Denee Hickson said “has been solid for us from the start” and “has been adding tremendous defensive play to where she’s getting balls up that most people wouldn’t,” led the way for Cheektowaga with 19 digs, eight aces and four kills.

Kalee Martin added 17 kills and two aces to help guide the Lady Warriors to victory, while Jena Ponosny and Shawnn Foster were also strong on the attack for the Lady Warriors.

“Kalee has been a threat for us all season,” Hickson said. “We moved her to the outside this year, since we graduated our outside hitters and had more than enough middle hitters, and she has filled that gap tremendously. What’s great is that she keeps improving every game.”

Cheektowaga found itself in another five-set marathon against Amherst two nights later, but this time things didn’t end in the Lady Warriors’ favor as they suffered a 16-25, 25-23, 16-25, 25-18, 17-25 defeat. Ponosny had eight kills, Martin added 10 kills, three blocks and three aces, and Macadlo had 32 digs for the Lady Warriors, who “had great rallies the entire match, but couldn’t hold on long enough” for the victory, according to Hickson.

Another tough five-game match against East Aurora on Monday also didn’t go Cheektowaga’s way, as the Lady Warriors found themselves on the wrong side of a 10-25, 25-16, 12-25, 25-20, 21-25 setback. Cheektowaga was missing four of its players due to various reasons, which led to improvised lineup shifts that the Lady Warriors gradually adjusted to as the match progressed.

Ponosny and Foster each had six kills for the Lady Warriors, while senior Taraya Fisher added seven kills to lead the attack. Senior outside hitter Boston Kistka added seven kills for the Lady Warriors and also found a way to keep the ball in play at crucial times.

“East Aurora is very scrappy and serves well, but we showed sparks of improving during each game,” Hickson said. “It was a struggle for some of the girls to adjust to their new positions at first, but we did and we battled on. Taraya certainly stepped up and did a great job of filling that middle hitter role that we needed her to. She was very aggressive at the net and did a great job finding the ball and attacking the net.”

Cheektowaga (2-3 ECIC III) returned to action Wednesday against crosstown and league rival Maryvale, but information about that contest was not available at press time.

“This season has been a struggle at times, which we knew it was going to be after losing seven seniors from last year’s team,” Hickson said. “The girls have shown bouts of improvement, while at the same time have taken a few steps back. We keep adjusting, though, and will continue to practice hard and fight until we find something that works. We are now entering the second half of our season, and our goal is to improve each game so that we do better than we did the first time we played our opponents.”

Maryvale’s boys volleyball squad earns wins in three of last five 
Cheektowaga Bee 
October 2, 2014


Maryvale’s Matt Mason taps the ball over the block attempt of an East Aurora player during the Flyers’ 3-0 win on September 25. Photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Maryvale’s boys volleyball team is preparing for the second round of league play with some added momentum on its side after posting victories in three of its five most recent matches to improve to 3-3 in the ECIC III standings.

Victories over Holland (3-0), East Aurora (3-0) and Depew (3-1) helped the Flyers put losses to St. Mary’s (3-2) and Cheektowaga (3-0) behind them as they prepare for the season’s stretch run. Coach Andrew Murtha was especially pleased with his team’s efforts against both East Aurora and Depew, with the Flyers’ game two rally from a 21-16 deficit to earn the 30-28 win against East Aurora helping them post the win away from home.

He also called the Depew victory “one of our stronger performances of the season.”

Maryvale could have just as easily entered the second half of league play boasting four wins in its last five after rallying once again from a 2-0 deficit against St. Mary’s to knot the match at 2-2, but the Flyers “just ran out of steam in the fifth,” according to Murtha.

“I’m proud of how our young team showed some fight against St. Mary’s,” Murtha said.

Over the course of the first half of the season, Murtha said that seniors Matt and Steve Mason are “learning the sport and coming into their own” and “they’ve stepped it up with their blocking.” 

“When Matt and Steve get a hold of the ball and let one rip, it raises some eyebrows,” Murtha said. “We just need to find a way for our passers and setters to get them the ball more. Our other middle hitter Eric Forrest is starting to blossom as well; we just need to get him attacking at a faster pace.”

Junior setter Sean McCarthy is steadily improving at the setter position, according to Murtha, and “is a fiery competitor” who “is getting better with his decision making and his setting fundamentals.” His brother Ryan, the team’s libero, “has been one of our leaders in passing and digging, and we expect him to continue to be vocal and take over more of the court.”

Junior Mike Ferguson has also been a strong vocal leader, according to Murtha, and is learning the game well. Murtha is looking for Ferguson to use his big jump more effectively both for blocking and attacking, and for him to “not be afraid” to make hitting errors.

Freshman outside hitter Jordan Nosal, meanwhile, has served well and provided a steady influence on defense, according to Murtha. In order for Maryvale to ascend to the next level, Murtha believes that Nosal “needs to fine tune his passing fundamentals and be more aggressive swinging at the ball.”

Junior Adam Dommer “is hitting the ball well from the outside,” according to Murtha, and “has been at his best when he slows the game down in his head and enjoys the experience.” Reserves Jimmy Urshel and Craig Boeheim have played some important minutes for the team as well and continue to work hard in practice.

Freshmen Nick Calkins and Nate Zawadzki have also contributed well in their limited opportunities, with Zawadzki working hard to learn the setting position and challenge the starter.

Maryvale kicked off the second half of its schedule Tuesday with a rematch against Amherst — which Maryvale dropped a 3-2 decision to on opening night — but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Flyers host Eden on October 2 before participating in Saturday’s annual Cheektowaga Tournament to close out their week.

“We’re certainly looking for some revenge against Amherst,” Murtha said. “I see that match as a chance to see how much we’ve improved since opening night.”

Depew girls volleyball dominating division with unbeaten record
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Lancaster Bee
October 2, 2014

Since the Depew girls volleyball team dropped the opening set of the season to East Aurora on Sept. 3, the Lady Wildcats have not dropped another set during a league match.

They went on to win the next three sets against East Aurora on that day and then swept every other league match afterward.

Currently, the Lady Wildcats are 8-0 in the league and 10-2 overall.

“We haven’t seen that long match that tests our endurance and heart,” head coach Jeff Addesa said. “But this week we get two non-league teams that will hopefully really test us in Newfane and City Honors.”

Most recently, Depew defeated Maryvale on Monday in a sweep 28-26, 25-18, 25-20. Addesa said it was their toughest league match of the season so far. 

Maryvale actually held the lead in game No. 1, but seniors Hannah Benson and Brooke Rackley each went on long runs while at the serving line to cut the deficit.

Benson’s topspin serve and Rackley’s floater gave Maryvale a hard time.

That led to Maryvale being out of system and sending free balls over, which Depew converted on.

“I really think we were able to handle a little adversity for the first time and fought through it,” Addesa said. “We kept that emotional high and rolled with it in the next two games.”

Senior Alyssa Kling finished with a team-high 14 kills in the match. Benson recorded nine kills and four aces.

Senior setter Sarah Federowicz registered 24 assists. She has continued to impress Addesa in her first year running the offense.

“She is doing a tremendous job for us,” he said. “At the end of last year, we had so many questions, and this year she is by far filling the biggest role.”

Depew’s duo of sophomore middle blockers — Brittany Bobeck and Tess Borgosz — combined to have eight blocks. Add in Kling to the mix, and they recorded another five.

“Their progression is going very well,” Addesa said. “When we get a good pass and set the middle, our timing is improving. They’re getting a few more kills and gaining confidence.”

Depew swept East Aurora on Sept. 25 with much ease 25-18, 25-10, 25-16.

Senior right side Hannah Koteras continued her strong season defensively. Addesa originally thought she could be used with Federowicz as a setter in a 6-2 system. But her passing ability has been so good that he kept her on the right side.

“She plays defense with incredible hustle and always gives 100 percent on every play,” Addesa said. “She’s constantly on the ground, getting the ball out of the net, and keeps plays alive. That forces the other team to make mistakes.”

The statistics have been pretty much predictable for the Lady Wildcats recently due to consistent play. In the last three matches, Federowicz has registered 24, 25 and 25 assists, respectively.

Offensively, Benson has had 8, 9 and 9 kills, respectively, while Kling has recorded 12, 14 and 14.

“As long as we maintain consistency, hit our serves and pass relatively well, we will be in good shape,” Addesa said. “But we still want to improve because come section time, there are some very good teams.”

On Friday, Depew travels to Springville in a match where the winner will likely become the division champion. 

Boys volleyball outlook: Eden, Lancaster appear strong
By Mary Jo Monnin | News Sports Reporter Buffalo News 
October 1, 2014


Brad Schneider spikes the ball against Kenmore East. The Lions are defending NFL champions. Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News


Ranked teams wrapup

Here’s a look at the other top 10 teams as selected by WNY coaches. See Page D1 for a look at No. 3 ranked Hamburg and above story for No. 1 Canisius.

2. Eden junior Declan Pierce has taken his game to another level. The 5-10 outside hitter was the only player in the nation to commit as a sophomore to a Division I team, Penn State. He is the brother of Kendall and Lainy, who both are playing for the Nittany Lions’ women’s team.

Hayden Herc, a 6-5 middle hitter, has become a dominant force at the net and is the go-to offensive player from the front row. He was named to the Eden all-tourney team. He is currently receiving interest from colleges like IPFW, Ball State, St. Francis, NYU and Springfield. Herc is the brother of Hannah and Hailee, who both played Division I volleyball.

Calvin Nowicki is new to the Eden schools. “He is a very crafty and smooth player that elevates his teammates’ play each time out,” coach Robert Pierce said of the 5-10 setter. “He’s very physical at the net and possesses a vicious jump serve.”

4. At Lancaster, Jay Baumann and Kenny Rudz are two dynamic hitters who can get kills from the front row or back row. Coach Jason Stang said they are becoming two of the better junior outside hitters in the area.

Baumann (6-3) was MVP of the Sweet Home Tournament and all-tourney at Eden. Rudz (6-2) was also all-tourney at two events this year. Both have started since they were freshmen. Having big senior years are 6-3 right sider Matt Devic and libero Trevor Gabamonte.

“Matt is also a very strong offensive player that can also be effective in the front row or back,” he said. “Trevor has excellent defensive and passing abilities at the libero position.”

5. Clarence senior setter Matt Dempsey and senior outside hitter Tommy Ecker were both all-tourney at the Clarence and Sweet Home tournaments. Dempsey is averaging nearly 30 assists per match while Ecker is part of a one-two punch with fellow outside hitter and sophomore Henry Payne. They both average 12 kills.

6. Stopping West Seneca West’s Cameron Bartus is a tall order. The 6-11 junior averages 22 kills but also passes and defends well.

“He’s an imposing player at the net,” said coach Brett Widman. “He is consistently a weapon that is hard to stop. He also brings a potent attack from the back row, allowing us to have 4-5 hitter options at all times.”

7. After struggling last year, Orchard Park is having a bounce-back led by senior outside hitter Martin Hackfor. Coach Matt Lexner said Hackfor is a threat to score from any spot on the court and has a flat out I-won’t-be-beat approach from the back row. He has the Quakers at 7-4 so far and back into the mix in WNY. 

A junior trio of Dylan Fanaro, Jason Manley and Spencer Eagleton continue to improve as the playoff push nears.

8. St. Joe’s returns a group of seniors who have played together for four years, including three years of club. Among the six seniors is Joe Koszelak, who leads the team in blocks and aces. Co-captain Anthony Berardi is second in kills and Jacob Donn has the lead in kills.

9. Williamsville South is 10-2 overall and 6-0 through the first half of its ECIC II schedule. The Billies are ECIC II defending champions.

Coach Tom Knab said senior outside hitter Christian Graziano (6-3) is one of the better jumpers he’s had come through the program.

He said the team also owes a lot of its success to junior Joe Zanelotti, a four-year varsity player. He’s the setter but has developed his game in other areas.

10. Lockport is off to a 6-0 start in the Niagara Frontier League. The Lions captured the their first Section VI title a year ago with a school-record 24 wins.

The defending NFL champions boast Jason Donorovich, a returning All-WNY first-teamer. He’s a 6-8 middle hitter who has led the team in blocks the last two seasons. He had 27 kills in Monday’s win over Kenmore East.

Best of the rest

Frontier, a Class A finalist a year ago, has eight new faces on its 14-man roster.

Anchoring the Falcons is setter Jake Gleason, a varsity starter since eighth grade. Zach Gerken leads the team in kills.

Lake Shore sophomore Devin Joslyn leads the team in kills, passes out of the front and back row and helps run the offense by setting for half of the rotation. He brings a lot of experience to the court because of his club play and participation in the USA volleyball high performance program. Senior Tyler Becker swings as a middle hitter and outside, which brings versatility to the offense.

Williamsville East senior captain Dylan Cicero has a great volleyball IQ, according to coach Michael Braunscheidel. He moved to the outside after starting at libero the last two seasons. Senior captain Patrick Irving is versatile, playing in both the front and back rows, and one of the better setters in ECIC II. Kills leader Cort Williams has played his way into being one of the better middles in the league while leading the Flames in kills.

Senior setter/outside hitter Tom Vancuran is 6-1, “but he leaps like no other player I have had at Kenmore East,” said coach Kyle Horvatis. “When East needs to shut down the middle, Tom will step in and play middle blocker. When we run a 6-2, Tom will put the ball where it needs to be attacked.” He’s a well-rounded athlete who also plays basketball and baseball. 

East Aurora has shown steady improvement this season led by setter and team co-captain David Yerofeev, co-captain and outside hitter Brian Willert, and consistent passer Colin Ruhlin.

Honor for Stefani

Walt Stefani will be inducted into the Lackawanna High School Sports Hall of Fame on Friday. The ceremony is at 4:15 p.m. at the high school, followed by a field presentation at halftime of the homecoming football game.

Stefani, a former Steelers standout, coached Orchard Park from 1979-2000 and from 2005-2012. 

Over the course of his 31-year coaching career, he was named the WNY Coach of the Year eight times and was honored twice with the Joe Gillespie Friend of Volleyball award.

email: mmonnin@buffnews.com

Hamburg’s Yerington turns himself into complete player
By Mary Jo Monnin | News Sports Reporter Buffalo News 
October 1, 2014


Zach Yerington (10) drew interest from Ohio State, and he’s committed verbally to the school. Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News


Ask many high school athletes who love volleyball what drives them every day and the answer might be surprising. Topping the list? To be a complete player.

What good is a blazing serve if you’re a liability at the net? That’s a nice kill percentage, but how good is your passing?

Hamburg senior Zach Yerington is a returning All-WNY first-teamer. By the end of the season he hopes to be as complete a player as there is in WNY. He’s got the 6-foot-5 frame, can play every position except set, and he touches 11 feet, 4 inches.

“I want to be able to play every facet and not let my teammates down no matter what they ask,” Yerington said. “I feel like a complete player except my passing could improve a little bit. I don’t want to go to college unprepared, so that means working out 3-4 days a week, practicing at 100 percent every day and pushing myself to be a leader.”

The coaches at Ohio State took notice this summer while watching him play on his 17-U club team at the nationals in Houston. They weren’t only impressed by how well he played when his team was winning, but also how he kept hustling when they weren’t. He was offered a partial scholarship and has given the Buckeyes a verbal commitment.

“I was really shocked,” said Yerington. “My team didn’t do well” at nationals “but I thought I played to the best to my ability. They told me my physicality was what they liked.”

Yerington is going for his official visit in November, when he hopes to sign his letter of intent.

“I honestly feel that his title could be, ‘the most versatile player in WNY,’ because he can play so many different positions as a left-side passer, a right-side hitter/blocker, and also playing his natural middle position,” said Hamburg coach Brian Carroll. “I don’t think there are any players in WNY doing what he is asked to do for his team, which is play every position depending on how we can best utilize his skills.”

Before Yerington graduates to Division I, he has some business to finish at Hamburg. He’d like to help the Bulldogs repeat as Section VI Class B champions and duplicate their No. 1 ranking in WNY.

While Hamburg wants to get Yerington the ball as much as possible, he has plenty of teammates who complement his skills. Senior Doug Horbachewski (6-3) is a threat from the left side. Ryan Dils, a 5-10 junior setter, is an ECIC I all-star in basketball and baseball and 6-4 middle Bryan Camp does all the little things. At 5-1 and ranked No. 3, Hamburg is in the thick of the ECIC I race. 

email: mmonnin@buffnews.com

Gooch’s spikes turn into gold for Crusaders 
Canisius senior leads top-ranked Canisius

By Mary Jo Monnin | News Sports Reporter Buffalo News 
October 1, 2014


Trevor Gooch of Canisius was introduced to volleyball at a very young age watching his father play. James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News


The best piece of advice Trevor Gooch ever got from his dad could have focused on volleyball’s jump serve, setting up a block or cross-court shots, but it didn’t. His best words of wisdom weren’t about mechanics at all.

“He always says, ‘practice how you play,’ Gooch said. “Don’t walk into practice and lollygag because you’re wasting your coach’s time and everybody else’s. Go in there everyday like you’re competing. That one always kind of stayed with me.”

The directive is one Gooch appears to have followed. The Canisius senior is a returning All-Western New York player and a two-time All-Catholic selection.

Gooch was 6 when he was introduced to the sport while watching his father, Dennis, play in adult and beach volleyball leagues. “I just fell in love with it at an early age,” he said.

Gooch’s passion and talent are evident wherever his travels take him. He was named MVP of the season-opening Clarence Tournament and made the all-tournament team at Eden and Burnt Hills.

As a left-side hitter and a team tri-captain, he has the talented Crusaders off to a 13-2 start and the No. 1 ranking in Western New York. The losses came to state powers Victor and McQuaid.

Gooch led Canisius in kills a year ago with 574. That led to the nickname, “Gooch Spike,” which is also part of his email address. He said that few things energize him more on the court than elevating high and sending a kill straight to the floor.

Gooch is the Crusaders’ only returning starter. He’s embraced his captain’s role by working with the younger players because when he first joined the team the seniors helped him. 

“There’s a lot of pressure on the younger kids and you can’t let it get to you. You have to look at it as a challenge,” Gooch said. “It’s no fun playing weaker teams. You want to showcase your team.”

Canisius coach Tom Weislo said Gooch has the skills to play on the college level. So far he’s shown interest in Springfield (Mass.), the defending NCAA Division III national champion, and Wells, Medaille, Nazareth and D’Youville.

“Trevor comes to work,” Weislo said. “His personality and his game are similar. You can always depend on him being a super-hard worker. In a pinch you can count on him, and that’s true on and off the volleyball court.”

Gooch knows the awards and stats would not be possible without his teammates. Andy Helwig and Peter Crofut serve with him as captains.

Right-side hitter Griffin Schmit is regarded as one of the top sophomores in the country and has gotten college inquiries from UCLA, Southern California, Penn State and Ohio State. He was on the Select A-1 team (15 year olds) that participated the high performance championships in Tulsa, Okla. Setter Charlie Desmond played on Eden 16-U, which finished 15th in the national championship in Houston.

Canisius has been a consistent winner in the sport. The Crusaders are chasing their 15th consecutive Msgr. Martin regular season and playoff title. Saturday they won the Burnt Hills Tournament near Albany. 

email: mmonnin@buffnews.com

High School Extra (Oct. 1): St. Mary’s edges Eden
Buffalo News 
October 1, 2014


Leah Meyer (17) of St. Mary’s tries to score through a block by Eden in their volleyball match Tuesday. Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News


St. Mary’s tops Eden

St. Mary’s of Lancaster defended its No. 1 ranking in the Western New York small schools girls volleyball poll with a grueling five-set triumph over No. 2 Eden in the latest chapter of one of area’s most competitive rivalries. The Lancers continued their recent dominance, defeating the Raiders for the third straight season.

St. Mary’s won the first two sets, 25-13, 25-22, but began to wear down and dropped the next two, their first set defeats this season, 25-21 and 25-23. The Lancers took the fifth set, 25-21.

“We were running on empty,” said St. Mary’s coach Don Pieczynski. “We had just enough gas left to finish. We’ve played 11 matches in seven days. Now we get some time off until next Monday.”

Leah Meyer had 23 kills and Bailey Dolegowski 52 assists to lead the victory. Caitlyn Meyer had 12 kills.

Clarence Holds On for the Win over Will East

“I don’t ever remember a 36-34 fifth set,” said Clarence coach Kevin Starr. “Last year we lost to Frontier, 34-32, in a Game Five.”

Ecker had 19 kills while David Cummiskey had 18 and Henry Payne 17 for the Red Devils. Matt Dempsey had 52 assists for the winners.

Hamburg volleyball tops OP

Hamburg, which lost its opening match to Orchard Park but has worked its way up to No. 3 in the coaches’ boys volleyball poll, won the return match with the Quakers Tuesday night in five sets – 18-25, 25-18, 23-18, 17-25 and 25-16.

“We’ve progressed every week since then. Every player has gotten better,” said Hamburg coach Brian Carroll.

Middle blocker Zach Yerington led the Hamburg defensive effort against the seventh-ranked Quakers.

The Bulldogs (5-1 ECIC I) have moved within a half-game of Lancaster (6-1) in the battle for first in the division.

South wins own tourney, opens 6-0 in ECIC II
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
October 1, 2014


Zach Feller of Williamsville East serves during the Flames’ 25-10, 25-15, 25-18 road win over Iroquois on Monday, Sept. 22. The Flames are 5-1 in ECIC II and 6-2 overall. Photo by Jake FrenchPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


For the first time since 2011, Williamsville South won its own boys volleyball tournament.

The Billies downed Lockport, 19-25, 25-19, 25-20, in Saturday’s tournament final.

South went undefeated on the day, beating Starpoint, 25-17; St. Francis, 25-17; St. Mary’s of Lancaster, 25-13; Lockport, 25-14; and Cheektowaga, 25-19, in pool play; and Cheektowaga, 25-12, 18-25, 25-11 in the semifinals. 

Junior setter/outside hitter Joe Zanelotti was named Tournament MVP.

“He took control of the team, not only with his play but he made sure everyone got involved,” South coach Thom Knab said. “He’s developed into a well-rounded player.”

Junior middle blocker Shawn Barbalato was selected to the all-tournament team.

“He had an exceptional tournament defensively and offensively,” Knab said.

Knab also noted strong play from senior Christian Graziano, who has excelled this season after moving from middle blocker to outside hitter.

“He’s got a great vertical leap,” Knab said. “When he connects on attack, he is a hitter that most teams would love to have.” 

He also liked the play from senior outside hitter Paul Jager.

The Billies are 6-0 in ECIC II and 10-2 overall. Their biggest league win was a 25-21, 16-25, 26-24, 25-13 home victory over Williamsville East on Friday. Both teams came into the match 5-0.

Graziano (13 kills, 5 aces) and Zanelotti (12 kills, 5 aces) led the Billies’ attack.

It was also South’s “Dig Pink” event to raise $700 for the Side-Out Foundation, a national foundation, which supports breast cancer research and advocacy.

Both teams wore pink shoelaces and socks and used a pink ball.

South’s other league wins came over Sweet Home (five games); Lake Shore (four games); Iroquois (three games); West Seneca East (three games) and Starpoint (three games).

Against Sweet Home, Graziano had 12 kills and six aces; Zanelotti posted 10 kills and six aces; and senior right side hitter Ryan Nigro with eight digs.

South also defeated Amherst (three games) and Lockport (five games) in non-league matches.

Knab also noted strong play from junior middle blocker Andy Shelton.

He said the team is realizing how valuable a good defense can be to winning games and its passing is improving every day.

The Billies traveled to Sweet Home on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They host Lake Shore on Thursday.

East boys volleyball starts season strong
Amherst Bee
October 1, 2014

Williamsville East’s boys volleyball team is off to a strong start.

The Flames are in second place in ECIC II with a 5-1 record and 6-2 record overall.

“I’m pleased with the start we are having,” East coach Mike Braunscheidel said.

East won its first six matches over West Seneca East (three games), St. Francis (five games), Sweet Home (four games), Starpoint (three games), Lake Shore (five games) and Iroquois (three games).

Senior Cort Williams moved from middle blocker to outside hitter against Sweet Home and recorded seven kills.

Junior Alex Grano led East against Lake Shore with 12 kills. East won the match 23-25, 26-24, 25-23, 23-25, 25-20.

East lost its last two matches against Canisius in three games on Tuesday, Sept. 23 and Williamsville South in four games on Friday.

East also played in the North Tonawanda Tournament, going 4-2 in pool play and losing to Grand Island 20-25, 22-25 in the semifinals. Grano was named to the all-tournament team.

Braunscheidel has found that outside hitters, senior Dylan Cicero, who played libero on varsity last year, and junior Mike Shanahan, who played at middle on JV last year, are both producing.

He also said senior setters Pat Irving and Matt Millace continue to be solid and are feeling more confident in spreading the ball around to multiple hitters.

East hosted Clarence on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time.

The Flames host Starpoint on Wednesday and travel to Sweet Home on Thursday.

East girls volleyball excels against area’s top teams
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
October 1, 2014

Williamsville East made its case as one of the top girls volleyball teams in Western New York after a big week on the court.

The Lady Flames won league matches over Hamburg, 25-21, 25-15, 25-20, at home on Tuesday, Sept. 23 and Sweet Home, 18-25, 25-21, 25-17, 24-26, 25-17 on the road on Wednesday; and then took third at the Eden Tournament on Saturday.

Last week Hamburg was ranked fourth in WNY large schools and Sweet Home was eighth. East was ranked second.

Lady Flames coach Scott Wright said the Hamburg match was the team’s first complete match of the year.

“We were solid in every facet,” Wright said.

East got dominant play from outside hitters Carly Shifflet (21 kills) and Lexi Novak (16 kills). Natalie Berrafato recorded 39 assists and 13 digs. Sam Mendelsohn added 19 digs.

Shifflet (34 kills) and Novak (23 kills) led East’s offense against Sweet Home. Shifflet added 22 digs. Mendelsohn (23 digs) and Bridget Sleap (18 digs) played well at defensive specialists. Berrafato added 57 assists.

“It was our most complete defensive performance,” Wright said.

Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said it was a total team effort and was pleased with the way the team played.

“We dominated momentum in the first set,” Martin said. “In the second game, we had a lot of unforced errors and that was a pattern for the rest of the match. We were giving points away, which you cannot do against a team like East. But the team fought hard. We matched up better this time. The first time we played them we lost in three games.”

Rachel Reusch recorded 31 kills, six blocks and 12 digs. Emma Hubert had 19 kills, nine blocks and 11 digs. Claire Hiwiller posted 49 assists, five kills and 10 digs. Vic Rigler added 13 digs. Emily Carver recorded five kills.

The wins over Hamburg and Sweet Home improved East to 8-0.

At the Eden Tournament, East downed Eden, 30-20, in the quarterfinals and lost to St. Mary’s of Lancaster, 23-25, 18-25, in the semifinals. St. Mary’s is the top-ranked small school in Western New York.

“We played really well,” Wright said. “St. Mary’s has so much firepower. They had a little too much for us. It was good to play the top team in Western New York and see where you stand.”

Shifflet and Novak were both named to the all-tournament team.

Wright also noted the play of Berrafato at setter and Laryssa Melynk, Ally Jozwiak at middle blockers. Jozwiak recorded nine blocks.

East hosted Iroquois on Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Lake Shore on Wednesday and host Williamsville South on Friday. 

Sweet Home 

Sweet Home also won at Iroquois, 25-22, 25-8, 25-17 on Tuesday, 

Sept. 23.

Reusch (24 kills, three blocks, four digs); Hubert (seven kills, two blocks) and Hiwiller (29 assists, three aces, seven digs) led Sweet Home.

Sweet Home (6-3, 5-3) hosted Starpoint on Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to West Seneca East on Wednesday. 

Williamsville North 

The Lady Spartans improved to 5-1 in ECIC I after downing West Seneca West, 25-14, 24-26, 25-15, 25-14, at home on Tuesday, Sept. 23.

Lauren Schreiner (16 kills) and Elise Hopkins (12 kills) paced the offense.

Noelle Gulick added nine kills. Andrea Kiely recorded 43 assists. Kailee Terrance posted 22 digs.

North hosts Clarence in a showdown for first place in ECIC I on Wednesday.

North’s only league loss came against Clarence.

The Lady Spartans fell to North Tonawanda in a non-league road game on Wednesday, 25-15, 15-25, 25-17, 22-25, 18-25.

“We did not play our best, especially in serve receive,” North coach Keith Hopkins said. “After the first game, our serve receive at times was really poor and that shocked me. It contributed to a lot of our problems.”

Leaders for North were Schreiner (16 kills), Kiely (37 assists) and Katie Topolski (17 digs).

North closed out its week by losing to Webster-Schroeder, 30-23, in the gold quarterfinals at the Eden Tournament on Saturday.

Webster-Schroeder is ranked second in large schools in Rochester.

The Lady Spartans took second in their pool, losing to St. Mary’s of Lancaster, 18-25, 15-25; beating Frontier, 25-22, 25-18 and splitting games with Portville, 25-18, 23-25.

“I thought we played pretty well throughout the tournament,” coach Hopkins said. “Our pool was difficult. Portville is a Class D school, but their whole team plays club and will compete for the Class D championship. Frontier is ranked in the top ten and we were right there with St. Mary’s... We are continuing to progress on offense.”

Schreiner was named to the all-tournament team.

North (7-5-1) also hosts Jamestown on Thursday.

Kenmore East girls volleyball
Ken-Ton Bee
October 1, 2014

The Lady Bulldogs dropped a league match against Lockport 3-0 on Monday with scores of 16-25, 9-25, 15-25. With the loss, Kenmore East is currently 3-4.

Megan Hess led the defensive effort with 10 digs on the day. Paige Palmer finished with a solid all-around day recording five aces, six digs, three blocks and three kills. Nicole Giliforte added three digs and two kills.

Prior to that match, Kenmore East defeated Lew-Port in a sweep 25-11, 25-12, 25-21 on Sept. 23. Palmer again had a solid day with four aces, two blocks and a kill. Kendal Mills dished out six assists and added five aces from the serving line.

Sara Taylor was an offensive force with seven aces and three kills.

No Mercy
Ken-Ton Bee
October 1, 2014

Photo by Dan Nesselbush Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com

The St. Joe’s student section shows no mercy for any of the Canisius servers during Thursday’s volleyball match at home. Head coach Mark Anzalone said the sound in the gymnasium was deafening for the rivalry match. It was a hard-fought five-set thriller, but Canisius wound up winning five out of the last six points to win the match. For more on the St. Joe’s volleyball team, turn to page nine.


Marauders volleyball on short end of five set thriller
BRANDON KILIJANSKI Sports Reporter Ken-Ton Bee
October 1, 2014


St. Joe’s junior middle blocker Grant Morrison takes a heavy swing during Thursday’s match against Canisius at home. It was an epic five-set thriller, but the Marauders came out on the losing end. Photo by Dan NesselbushPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Anytime St. Joe’s and Canisius hit the gym floor for a volleyball match, there are a couple things that never change.

First, the atmosphere is always electric with fans filling the bleachers and heckling the opposition. Second, more often than not it’s going to be an evenly matched contest that doesn’t end in a sweep.

Thursday’s match fit into both categories as the Marauders lost at home in five sets 25-20, 12-25, 25-27, 25-20, 21-25.

“Obviously the crowd was fantastic. The building was electric with a deafening sound and that’s what it’s all about,” said St. Joe’s head coach Mark Anzalone. “That was one of the most exciting matches you’ll see in any sport at any level. Even though the emotions around them were very energetic, we didn’t get down or get nervous. We kept level heads all night and played well because of it.”

The Marauders controlled the first set, coming out hot to win by five. But then Canisius rebounded well and won the most lopsided set of the night.

The third set was tight for the entire way and then came down to the wire at the very end. St. Joe’s was up 25-24 in that game and had a couple swings to win the set.

But Canisius’ defense dug each one and then managed to outlast the Marauders on the next two points to win. 

St. Joe’s got back to their winning ways in the fourth set, and it resulted in the same 25-20 score as they started off.

In the fifth the match remained super close, with the teams trading points. That made it difficult for either side on building a sizeable lead.

But the Marauders did have a 18-16 lead which forced Canisius to call a timeout. Afterward, the Crusaders came out strong and managed to tie the game at 20-20.

“At that point in volleyball it’s anyones game,” Anzalone said.

Canisius won five out of the last six points to close out the match.

“Certainly it was an exciting night. We showed great mental toughness with the ups and downs of a five-game match,” Anzalone added. “We showed great resilience to hang in there all night.”

Offensively, senior Joe Koszelak ran an efficient offense by spreading the ball around equally. The Marauders finished with four players registering at least 10 kills in the match, which included seniors Anthony Berardi, Jacob Donn, Nick Oakes and Bryce Donovan.

“We had a balanced offense with contributions all over the floor,” Anzalone said. “Koszelak really distributed the ball evenly to keep their blockers guessing. He made smart sets and didn’t force it too much.”

St. Joe’s puts a premium on spreading the ball around each time they take the floor. Instead of having one or two players to rely on each night, the Marauders have the luxury of setting pretty much anyone on the floor.

“That keeps everybody involved in the game. We do that every night spreading the ball around and letting everyone hit,” Anzalone said. “In the end, it pays dividends.”

St. Joe’s is currently 3-5 on the season. The next time they play against Canisius comes on Thursday, Oct. 16 on the road.

“I’m confident the next time we play them,” Anzalone said. “After the match we just had, certainly we will have an opportunity to win.” 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

Clarence Boys volleyball succeeds in face of adversity
Clarence Bee
October 1, 2014

Season sweep of OP gives coach 400th career victory 

By all accounts, Clarence’s boys volleyball team was staring down an 0-3 week last week with libero Mason Sebian, middle hitter Rob Kuberka and back row specialist Dalton Squires all still out of the lineup due to injury. But, as they say, that’s why you play the game.

Clarence thumbed its nose at the injury bug — and at ECIC I stalwarts West Seneca West, Orchard Park and Frontier — and went on to post a sweep of the competition in what Starr said was “a testimony to our team’s resilience and adaptability” with the trio of starters, as well as key reserve Alex Martyniuk, on the sidelines.

The Red Devils’ week kicked off on Sept. 22 with a 25-16, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19 victory over West Seneca West. Having key defensive components out of the lineup presented Clarence with an even greater challenge in stopping West’s 6-foot-11 outside hitter Cameron Bartus, whom Starr said “is so big that he often hits the ball over the block rather than around it.” That led to a change in Clarence’s strategy, and the changes worked as Starr said “we were able to minimize the damage that he did.”

“With Sebian and Squires, two of our best passers and defensive players, out of action, we’ve had to make several adjustments, sometimes even changing offensive and defensive assignments from play to play,” Starr said. “The kids have responded very, very well. Our guys also have embraced the philosophy that the ball simply will not hit the floor on our side. It’s led to an aggressive style of play that’s made us very hard to beat.”

Senior setter Matt Dempsey again led the way for Clarence with 46 assists, while senior outside hitter Tommy Ecker had 24 kills. Senior right side hitter David Cummiskey added 16 kills, while sophomore outside hitter Henry Payne added 11 kills.

Two days later the Red Devils completed the second consecutive regular-season sweep of Orchard Park by pulling out the 22-25, 27-25, 25-17, 25-20 victory — the 400th of Starr’s varsity coaching career.

The first game was a defensive struggle, as neither team was able to score more than a couple of points in a row. In the second game, at 24-24, Clarence didn’t play a ball that appeared to be out of bounds. The official saw it differently, according to Starr, which led to Orchard Park hitting game point. During a time out, Starr told his players that they “had to forget what had just happened and to focus on the next point, since it could be a turning point in the whole match.”

“If Orchard Park won that point, they’d have a two-games-to-nothing lead — but we won that point and then the next two points to win the game, 27-25,” Starr said.” Anyone who looks at our scores will see that we’ve won several very close games, and that’s one of the marks of a strong team. We then neutralized Orchard Park’s top hitter in games three and four to win the match.

“They’re always a tough opponent, and they feel that they have a score to settle with us,” Starr continued. “Orchard Park dominated us for years, but last year we beat them twice in league play, knocked them out of their own tournament and ended their season in the sectional quarterfinals. But our boys really wanted this one for me, especially since it was at home and probably even more because it was against Orchard Park.”

Dempsey had 41 assists, with Ecker picking up 21 kills and Payne adding 13.

Clarence closed out the week by knocking off Frontier in three extremely close games, 25-23, 28-26, 28-26. Frontier’s gym “is a tough place to play,” according to Starr, with the side of the gym that the Red Devils played games one and three on having several wires and brackets attached to it — “forces a team to keep their passes lower than usual and to play a more disciplined style of defense, since any ball that hits the ceiling could deflect anywhere.” But, Starr said the Red Devils “handled it very well,” even despite trailing 21-14 in game three.

That’s when Payne went back to jump serve. Payne, who “had been struggling with controlling his serve,” Starr said, served for five consecutive points to bring Clarence within two after he and Starr talked briefly about some small adjustments he could make.”

“We’ve adopted a new blocking setup from the one we used earlier in the season, and it’s more than doubled the number of blocks that we average in each match,” Starr said.

Dempsey had 37 assists and Ecker had 21 kills to pace Clarence. Cummiskey and Payne each added eight kills for Clarence, which had nine blocks for points during the match.

Clarence, which hopes to get Kuberka and Squires back in the lineup this week, returned to action at Williamsville East Tuesday — but information about that match was not available at press time. The Red Devils close out their week by hosting Lancaster Thursday.

Starr and Durr pass coaching milestones
By Miguel Rodriguez NEWS SPORTS REPORTER Buffalo News
September 30, 2014 


In the past week, Clarence volleyball coach Kevin Starr (above) and Williamsville East girls soccer coach Chris Durr (below) both celebrated significant victories for their career totals. Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News


They coach different sports and their paths rarely ever cross, but Kevin Starr and Chris Durr do know each other.

Both coached at the same time at Clarence – albeit different sports – from 1989 to 1993. They made polite conversation during those encounters and even though Durr now coaches at Williamsville East each respects the accomplishments the other has achieved over the years.

If they should by chance run into each other down the road, there will be more to the encounter than just simple “hellos.” The polite conversation will likely include the word “congratulations” a couple times.

That’s because both longtime Western New York coaching fixtures earned milestone victories within two days of each other last week.

Starr, who is in his 35th year coaching boys volleyball – 25 at Clarence, hit the 400-win milestone last Wednesday in the Red Devils’ four-set win over longtime thorn in their side Orchard Park. Clarence won its next match Friday and captured a marathon five-set nonleague win over Williamsville East on Tuesday, taking the final game, 36-34, the longest fifth game he remembers coaching in.

Starr, 57, is just the fourth boys volleyball coach in Western New York history to reach 400 wins. The others are Joe Gillespie (ex-Eden coach), Walt Stefani (formerly of Orchard Park) and Gary Tocke (ex-Kenmore East guide).

The 45-year-old Durr, in his 20th season coaching Williamsville East’s girls soccer team, reached 300 career wins with Friday’s 5-0 win over Ellicottville. He earned No. 301 Monday against Iroquois and hopes to add to his total today against visiting Lake Shore and Thursday at home versus Williamsville South.

It’s kind of cool two of the good ones in Western New York’s scholastic coaching clique hit milestones a day apart.

Both shared similar stories as to how they became interested in coaching.

In high school, they realized despite their passion for their sport, they just had enough talent to make their respective school team. They had no chance of hitting the big time as players, so they did the next most logical thing. They became students of the game during their time as bench warmers. Both spent most games trying to learn as much about the X’s and O’s of their sport along with how their respective coaches dealt with each different personality on the team.

“I was able to watch and learn,” said Starr, who played at Kenmore West under Roger Williams. “I had a coach in high school who saw there was a place for a kid like me who was maybe barely good enough to make the team but still did my best. I learned a lot from him and he’s a lot of the reason I’m still doing it.”

“I was more interested when I was playing with how the game was played and learning the game because I knew as a sophomore or junior in high school I wanted to coach and be a teacher,” said Durr, who battled in practice just to achieve No. 2 goalie status during his Red Devils career. “I was really interested in doing all I could to learn the game.”

It takes special people to want to coach, especially in the high school ranks where the hours are long and the biggest reward is paternal (maternal for the female coaches) pride felt because of players who do well not only on the field but in the game of life.

“I’ve had just a huge number of successful, very good student-athletes over the years,” said Durr, who has guided the Flames to seven Section VI titles and the state semifinals in 2008. “Great young ladies who have moved onto coaching, who have moved onto very successful lives. … I’ve had the luxury of some very experienced modified and JV coaches. … When you get a program together and we’ve never had a losing season in those 20 years, I think once you get a program started the key thing is having consistency. … It’s a tribute to how many good players I’ve had.”

Starr, who has won two Section VI titles (one at Amherst in 1982 and the other at Clarence in 1999), gives credit not only to the players but his longtime junior varsity coach David Grabowski.

“Virtually every kid who’s played in the varsity has played with David first,” said Starr, who wants to continue to coach for another four to five years. “He has had a hand in so many of those wins. We share the bench during his games and mine. He’s a big part of it and the kids would say the same.”

As the kids would about Starr and Durr.

Sure, neither coach sets foot on the field during games but both have been impact players for years.

The proof is in the numbers.

email: mrodriguez@buffnews.com

Lockport Leads NFL
Buffalo News
September 30, 2014


Lockport volleyball player Jason Donorovich hits for one of his 26 kills over the block of Tom Vancuran (6) of Kenmore East. The Lions won in four games to improve to 6-0 in the Niagara Frontier League. Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News


Eden girls volleyball gives St. Mary's a fight, falls in five
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports
Tuesday September 30, 2014

Stephen Pierce knew his team was young, but in a match that brought together two of the top girls volleyball programs in the state, Eden’s head coach knew his Lady Raiders would be up for the challenge.

St. Mary’s — the No. 1 ranked small school in Western New York — played host to a No. 2 Eden on Sept. 30 in a match that possibly rostered Pierce’s youngest team in years, starting an eighth grader, some sophomores and rotating a freshman during the first few games.

Eden’s youth showed early on as St. Mary’s took a 2-0 lead after two games, but the Raiders showed poise and won the next two sets, taking the match to a fifth game that everyone was waiting for.

In the end, the Lancers stayed on top of the rankings by jumping out quickly in the fifth set, as Eden fell 13-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 21-25.

“I was really pleased with the way they started fighting and that’s half of the battle,” said Pierce. “Getting teams to have enough confidence to play hard and to fight…that’s what we really haven’t been doing up to this point. They’d make a mistake and put their heads down, but they were able to brush off mistakes here.”

Eighth grader Paiton Basinski was in the starting lineup while freshman Sam Logan rotated as the young Eden team fell behind to St. Mary’s in the first two sets.

Sophomores Sam Burgio and Molly Breier are already key contributors to an Eden program that has won five consecutive NYSPHSAA championships.

“What I was pleased with…I started a very young team, and they were scared in the first game. I could see it. They had a deer-in-headlights look, but they gradually settled down. Once we found that we could get close that’s when the game turned. Even in the fourth game we were way down.”

Eden vanquished a 5-0 deficit in the fourth set and even faced a 22-20 hole, but the Raiders prevailed to tie the match 2-2 for a winner-takes-all Game 5.

Senior co-captain Kailey Ballou, junior Meghan Ballou and senior Claire Czajka had strong performances all night and kept the Raiders in the game when St. Mary’s jumped on them early in the fifth set, but they were unable to overcome the Lancer lead built during the beginning of the final set.

“Three missed first serves in the fifth game ended up being the difference,” Pierce noted. “They were all pretty close to each other. It put us in a deep enough hole to where we couldn’t come back.”

The Raiders ran into a pair of returning All-WNY first team selections in Ashley Drzymala and Duke-bound Leah Meyer.

St. Mary’s dropped its first set of the season the night before in a 3-1 victory over Immaculata before Eden took two more, but the Lancers saw quality performances from the likes of Drzymala and Meyer to capture the nonleague bout against Eden.

“No one has an answer for her,” Pierce said about Meyer. “She’s a 6-foot-3 girl who touches around 9-foot-10. When she’s up there we have to hope that we get a touch on the ball or something. And that was really the difference.”

The two premier volleyball programs are scheduled for one more regular season match when St. Mary’s visits Eden on Oct. 21, where Pierce will see how good his young Eden squad can be when they play without the big-game jitters for an entire match.

“It was good for them to experience a fight with the best team in Western New York,” he said.

Nardin’s Scanlon finds groove on and off the court
By: Matthew Ondesko, Metro Source Editor | Sports
Tuesday September 30, 2014


Peyton Scanlon, a Hamburg native, stars at Nardin on the girls volleyball team. Photo by Dave Eckhardt.


A three-sport athlete at Nardin Academy, Peyton Scanlon has many options as her junior year unfolds. She is an accomplished bowler and picked up lacrosse for the first time last year, playing on the junior varsity team.

But it is her love of volleyball that has taken center stage. It is a sport the Hamburg resident gravitated to as a youngster and she has been playing it ever since.

“I started when I was in seventh grade,” Scanlon said after Nardin’s recent volleyball tournament at Eden High School. “I never played volleyball before. I tried out for modified and I made it. Then I tried out for travel and made it. And have been playing ever since.”

If anybody has watched indoor volleyball, it is not an easy sport to play., The diving on the hard gym floors can take a toll on the body. Now, picture, playing varsity for Nardin Academy and then playing travel pretty much throughout the rest of the year. 

There is no time for the body to heal. You need to be in good physical condition to keep up with the rigors of the sport. With all the playing she does, Scanlon has been able to take care of herself as she has had no major injuries.

“Sometimes it gets a little hard,” said Scanlon. “We practice hard during travel season, and it usually tears my body apart. Getting in the swing of things from camps into really hard practices is a little hard on the body. So, I’m sore for a couple of weeks, but not too bad.”

But all the success on the court doesn’t happen if you don’t have good grades in the classroom, something her mom and dad have stressed with her and her older brother. With good grades comes good time management.

There are days where Scanlon will go right from school to a game and not get home until 8 or 9 p.m. Then it is right to the books — sometimes, she won’t get to bed until 2 or 3 a.m. But it’s all in a days work for a student-athlete. And if she wants to play volleyball at the next level then it’s good to get into a routine now.

“Freshman and sophomore year weren’t too bad, but the beginning of junior year has been pretty hard,” she explained. “I get an hour of homework down after school. Then we practice from 5 to 7 p.m. On game days we don’t get home until 8 or 9 p.m. sometimes. Homework takes me another three hours, so I am up until probably midnight. If I have a test the text day then I am probably studying until 3 a.m.”

With her brother playing hockey and her dad playing and coaching, there was that fleeting moment where Scanlon thought her path could be on the ice. That quickly ended when she first stepped out there.

“I grew up in hockey rinks with him and my dad,” she said with a laugh. “So I actually was going to try hockey. But I didn’t think it was a good fit for me. I did figure skating for a couple of years, but it really wasn’t my favorite.”

Whatever choices she has made, her parents have always been right beside her rooting her on. Talking to her dad during Nardin’s recent tournament at Eden, he said he always let his children play as many sports as they wanted and then let them choose in the end.

It was refreshing to hear his take. Most parents these days are forcing their children into a sport that they want them to play. A lot of them do it because they think it might be an easy way for a college scholarship down the road.

Scanlon says she appreciates how supportive her parents are as it allows her to focus on the game and not everything else surrounding it.

“They actually support me so much,” said Scanlon. “They come to all my games. They have always been very supportive of me and my brother. They always make time for us, and go to both of our games.”

Peyton Scanlon comes from a very grounded family and it shows. She has what it takes to go as far in sports and in life, and do whatever she puts her mind to. 

Western New York 2014 Boys Top 10 Poll - 9/30/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Canisius (12) 120 1
2. Eden 106 2
3. Hamburg 86 4
4. Lancaster 84 3
5. Clarence 63 5
6. West Seneca West 47 6
7. Orchard Park 46 7
8. St. Joe's 41 8
9. Williamsville South 35 9
10. Lockport 18 10


Western New York 2014 Girls Top 10 Poll - 9/30/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Clarence (7) 88 1
2. Williamsville East (2) 83 2
3. Williamsville South 51 5
4. Williamsville North 50 3
5. North Tonawanda 48 7
6. Frontier 47 6
7. Hamburg 42 4
8. Sweet Home 38 8
9. Lancaster 24 10
10. Orchard Park 17 9
Also receiving votes: Grand Island, Lockport, Depew and Albion.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (6) 60 1
2. Eden 54 2
3. Nardin 48 3
4. Portville 33 5
5. Randolph 30 4
6. Mt. St. Mary's 28 6
7. City Honors 25 8
8. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 23 9
9. Immaculata 22 7
10. Chautauqua Lake 12 10
Also receiving votes: Falconer, Newfane, Panama and Wilson.

NFL showdown set
Buffalo News
September 30, 2014

Grand Island dropped the first set but came back to win the next three against North Tonawanda and moved past the Lumberjacks into second place in Niagara Frontier League boys volleyball.

“We were making too many errors and too many missed serves,” said GI coach Bill Schultz. “We cleaned it up in Game Two and the rest of the match.”

That set up a showdown with first-place Lockport on Wednesday for the Vikings.

“Now we’re hoping to go their and pull an upset at their place, said Schultz, who is in his 14th season.

Kyle Burns, a 6-foot-8 junior outside hitter had 20 kills and eight digs in the Grand Island victory while senior Mike Podgorny added 15 kills and four digs.

Lockport lost the first set to Kenmore East, then won three straight to remain unbeaten in the NFL. Ryan Smorol had eight digs and Jason Donorovich 26 kills for the Lions.

Power 10 / Miguel Rodriguez ranks the best in high schools
Buffalo News
September 30, 2014

4. St. Mary’s of Lancaster girls volleyball. The Lancers have not been scary good, they’ve been scary great as they haven’t even dropped a set (game to you old school volleyball fans) this season. St. Mary’s improved to 17-0 by capturing the not-so-easy-to-win Eden Tournament last Saturday, beating Rochester big school Webster Schroeder.

7. Canisius boys volleyball. Beat St. Joe’s to start a key week and ended it by winning Burnt Hills Tournament as Griffin Schmit earned MVP honors. Only loss this season is to Victor in the final of the Eden Pan Am Tournament.

10. Clarence boys volleyball. Last Wednesday, the Clarence boys volleyball team beat Orchard Park in four sets to capture the 400th triumph in 35-year coach Kevin Starr’s career. 

Honorable mention: Williamsville South boys volleyball.

Ken East wins Tocke title
Buffalo News
September 28, 2014

Outside hitter Tom Van Kuran earned all-tournament honors after leading Kenmore East to over rival Kenmore West in the finals of the Gary Tocke Volleyball Tournament. Tocke, who retired in 2013 after 48 seasons in the Ken-Ton district, was on hand to pass out the awards.

“Not only is Van Kuran a very good outsider hitter, he also has great hands for setting and passing and makes a lot of great plays on the court,” said first-year West coach Ryan Hogan. “It was great having Coach Tocke come down to the tournament. It’s really an honor to have our tournament named after a prominent coach with over 500 wins who had always been a great role model in our school district.”

Named to the all-tournament team were: Rob Mol (Ken East), Ben Leising (Ken East), RJ Souter (Ken West), Nick Atallah (Ken West), Ryan Kydd (Cardinal O’Hara) and Ethan Ahuna (Amherst).

• Joe Zanelotti was named MVP after leading Williamsville South over Lockport to win its own tournament. The Billies lost the first game of the finals, 19-25, but came back to win the next two.

St. Mary’s wins at Eden
Buffalo News
September 28, 2014


St. Mary’s celebrates its victory at the Eden Girls Volleyball Tournament. The Lancers won all six matches, led by MVP Leah Meyer, and are currently 17-0. John Hickey/Buffalo News


St. Mary’s won the Eden Girls Volleyball Tournament, beating Webster-Schroeder in the final, 25-22, 25-17. St. Mary’s is 17-0 on the season and has not dropped a set.

St. Mary’s won all six matches, led by MVP Leah Meyer, who had 55 kills on the day and a .500 hitting percentage. Ashley Drzynala and Bailey Dolegowski were named all-tournament from St. Mary’s.

The Lancers beat Williamsville East in the semifinals of the 13-team tournament while East reached the final by eliminating the hosts. The Lancers are currently ranked 65th in the country by prepvolleyball.com.

• Clarence beat Lockport, 25-16, 25-13, to win the title of the Clarence Fall Classic. Gabbi Pacatte was named MVP for the Red Devils while teammates Karley King and Meghan Neelon were named all-tournament.

23rd Annual Williamsville South Tournament
Buffalo News
Saturday, September 27, 2014


Finals Wmsv. South 19-25-25, Lockport 25-19-20 Bronze Cheektowaga 25-25, St. Francis 22-23 Semifinals Wmsv. South 25-18-25, Cheektowaga 12-25-11 Lockport 25-27, St. Francis 18-25 Quarterfinals St. Francis 25, St. Mary's 15 Cheektowaga 25, Starpoint 20 Pool Play: Wmsv. South 25, Cheektowaga 19 St. Francis 25, Starpoint 22 Lockport 25, St. Francis 20 Lockport 25, Cheektowaga 22 Wmsv. South 25, Lockport 14 Cheektowaga 25, St. Mary's 18 St. Francis 25, Cheektowaga 22 St. Mary's 25, Lockport 23 Wmsv. South 25, St. Mary's 13 Cheektowaga 25, Starpoint 16 Starpoint 25, St. Mary's 21 St. Francis 25, St. Mary's 19 Wmsv. South 25, St. Francis 17 Wmsv. South 25, Starpoint 17 Lockport 25, Starpoint 12

All-Tournament Team: MVP-Joe Zanelotti (WS) Larry Durski (St. F) Cody Smith (St. F) Adam Reichert (C) Brazil Thompson (C) Jason Donorovich (L) Brad Schneider (L) Shawn Barbalato (WS)

Kenmore West Tournament
Buffalo News
September 27, 2014


Gary Tocke Tournament Finals Kenmore East 25-25, Kenmore West 18-22 Round robin scores Kenmore East 2, Cardinal O’Hara 0 Kenmore West 2, Cardinal O’Hara 0 Kenmore East 2, Amherst 0 Kenmore West 2, Amherst 0 Cardinal O’Hara 2, Amherst 0 MVP: Tom VanKuran (KE). All-tournament: Rob Mol (KE), Ben Leising (KE), RJ Souter (KW), Nick Atallah (KW), Ryan Kydd (C’O), Ethan Ahuna (Amherst). 

Lake Shore Invitational
Buffalo News
September 27, 2014


Lake Shore Invitational Finals Jamestown 25-25, Lake Shore 21-14 Semifinals Lake Shore 25-24, Gowanda 23-20 Jamestown 25-25, Springville 18-14 Quarterfinals Lake Shore 30, Pioneer 20 Jamestown 30, Pine Valley 16 Silver Bracket Kenmore East 25-25 West Seneca East 21-9 Semifinals W.S. East 25-25, Olmsted 14-9 Kenmore East 25-25-15, Cleveland Hill 19-27-4 Quarterfinals Olmsted 30, Tonawanda 24 

Jamestown successfully defended its title at the 3rd annual Lake Shore Invitational which drew a field of 11 teams. The Red Radiers beat the hosts in the finals ,25-21, 25-14. "We prett ymuch ran out of gs the second game, they had a good offense and minumal unforced errors," Lake shore coach Brian Dziewa. 

Eden Tournament
Buffalo News
September 27, 2014


Gold Finals St. Mary's 25-25, V-Webster Schroeder 18-19 Gold Semifinals St. Mary's 25-25, Wmsv. East 23-18 Webster Schroeder 25-25, Nardin 21-20 Gold Quarterfinals St. Mary's 30, Immaculata 9 Webster Schroeder 30, Wmsv. North 23 Wmsv. East 30, Eden 20 Nardin 30, V-Mercy Academy 28 Silver Finals Portville 23-25-15, Frontier 25-21-11 Silver Semifinals Frontier 30, Lancaster 27 Bronze Finals Falconer 22-25-15, Grand Island 25-18-11

All-Tournament Team Wmsv. East: Carly Shiflet Wmsv. East: Lexi Novak Nardin: Emily Rand Nardin: Meghan Jepson Wmsv. North: Lauren Schreiner Webster Schroeder: Ally Smith Webster Schroeder: Amber Smith St. Mary's: Ashley Drzymala St. Mary's: Bailey Dolegowsky

Volleyball Powers to 2-0 Start in MAC Play Shutting Down Miami (OH), 3-0
September 27, 2014



BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo got off to its finest Mid-American Conference start in program history defeating visiting Miami (OH) Saturday night, 3-0. Winning its fifth straight match, UB improved to 12-4 on the season and 2-0 in conference play, while the RedHawks dropped to 8-6 overall, 1-1 in the MAC.

The Bulls blanked Miami 25-18, 26-24, 25-20 with their third straight 3-0 sweep and eighth of the season. After pulling away late to claim the first set, Buffalo battled from a 20-15 deficit to take the second stint in extras, and cruised to victory in the final frame.

"I'm proud of the way our team never gave up," said head coach Reed Sunahara. "They were always pushing and fighting and I liked that. The fact that we never gave up gave us a chance."

Holding the Red Haws to a hitting percentage of just .107, UB registered 24 blocks – its third 20-plus block match of 2014. Junior Akeila Lain matched a career-best performance at the net, totaling 10 blocks (1 solo, 9 assists), while classmate Marissa Prinzbach added six. Junior Tahleia Bishop posted 18 kills for the second time in as many matches and junior Amber Hatchett added seven on just 17 swings. Prinzbach set for 27 assists and Bishop and freshman Niki Bozinoski dug the ball 14 and 13 times, respectively.

Miami got off to a solid start, taking a 4-0 lead in the first. They maintained their four-point lead, 8-4, until UB pieced together a 5-1 run knotting the match for the first time at 9-9. The Bulls snapped a 13-13 deadlock to pull ahead, 19-14, en route to a 25-18 victory.

The second set was tight early, though the RedHawks looked to tie the match at 1-1 powering ahead 22-15 with a 9-3 run. Following a UB timeout, Lain paired with rookie Skyler Day and Prinzbach to post two blocks and sneak within three on a Miami setting error. A Bishop kill and a Miami attack error brought the game to 22-20, but the RedHawks made good on an attack for another three-point gap. A Lain kill and a pair from Bishop made it a 23-23 stalemate. Miami earned set point with a UB attack error, but followed with a service error of its own. A Prinzbach ace and a Hatchett kill guaranteed the Bulls a 2-0 lead.

The RedHawks got off to a 5-2 start in the third, but the Bulls would tie the set at 6-6, the first of six ties. Buffalo rewrote the final tie, 18-18, with five straight highlighted by back-to-back aces by junior Megan Lipski. The Bulls went on to win, 25-20.

Olivia Rusek led Miami with 11 kills and Jenny Ingle chipped in eight. Meg Riley set for 17 assists, while Krista Brakauskas added 14. Defensively, Maeve McDonald dug out 14 balls.

UB will return to action on Friday when it travels to Ohio for a 7:00 pm MAC contest.

Clarence Fall Classic
Buffalo News
September 27, 2014


Clarence Fall Classic Gold bracket Final Clarence 25-25, Lockport 16-13 Semifinals Clarence 25-25, Mount St. Mary's 19-18 Lockport 25-26, Chautauqua Lake 14-24 Silver bracket final Kenmore West 25-25, Maryvale 9-11 

All Tournament Team MVP - Gabbi Pacatte (C) Elise Kreuz (MSM) Jenna Einink (CL) Kathryn Krchnisk (L) Hailey Bechtold (L) Karley King (C) Meghan Neelon (C)

Joslyn brings experience to Lake Shore
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports
Friday September 26, 2014

Devin Joslyn may be the most experienced player on Lake Shore’s varsity boys volleyball roster, but he has not been playing the sport for very long.

Joslyn has always been around the sport. Growing up, he watched his older brother, Ryan, play club volleyball and at Lake Shore. But it wasn’t until the two had a serious talk when Devin was 10 years old that he became interested in the sport.

“I’ve always watched him play, but I didn’t really have any interest until he started talking to me about it,” Devin Joslyn said.

Joslyn quickly became a major player on the 12U Eden club team and is now the most experienced player on Lake Shore’s varsity team as a sophomore.

The sophomore outside hitter and setter is in the middle of his second full varsity season. He moved up as an eighth grader in the middle of a lineup full of seniors and fellow club volleyball players.

“A few years ago we had three club guys. They did very well for us, but it’s been about two or three years now,” said Lake Shore head coach John Coyle. “Devin is our only club player, so he brings a ton of experience, even as a 10th grader.”

Although Lake Shore is not home to many club volleyball players at the moment, Coyle and Joslyn believe that there is a lot of potential on the roster. All the Eagles need is a little time to gel.

“When I was in eighth grade we had a starting lineup full of seniors, now it’s more of trying to get in the groove and creating chemistry with everybody,” said Joslyn. “We’re trying to see how everybody reacts to everything, trying to figure out things like who’s going to set it and where it’s going to be set.”

Expectations for this season were to win a division title, according to Joslyn. The Eagles are 4-4 overall, losing winnable matches to Williamsville South and Williamsville East — a game in which Joslyn tallied 32 kills in a five-set defeat.

“He’s our big go-to-guy on the right side,” said Coyle. “We’d struggle on offense if we didn’t have him. And he puts up a good block. He sets for us, he hits for us and he passes. He covers a lot of aspects of the game for us, so that’s nice to have.”

As a sophomore, Joslyn is the youngest player on the team. Jared Himes, Nathan Ciciera, Tim Jakiel and Kyle Wishman are the juniors while Ty Becker, Steve Budniewski, Michael Roach and Gabriel Corruth round out the senior class.

Becker has especially been impressive this year as Coyle’s middle hitter, using his athleticism from track and former football days to become a force for the Eagles.

“He’s really beginning to understand the game a little more as a senior,” Coyle said. “His athleticism helps him out quite a bit. He puts up a good block for us, hits the ball hard...probably one the hardest hitters on the team when he really connects on it. And he’s very motivational. He’s probably the team leader, I would say.”

• • •

The Lady Eagles hosted their third annual Lake Shore Invitational on Sept. 27, falling to Jamestown in the Gold bracket finals; 21-25, 14-25.

Lake Shore is led by its captain, senior outside hitter Allie Pappas, who is a four-year varsity player. Senior Olivia Evancho and junior Machala Andrews — also captains — have been key contributors this season, too. Sophomores Talia Wright, Ariel Smith and Alexa Haberer have earned playing time after being pulled up from JV.

Junior Melissa Heppel and seniors Katie Schamberger, Jessica Ackley, Joelle Olczak and Kayli Judson round out an Eagles team that hopes to “right the ship” and make a late-season run into the postseason, according to head coach Brian Dziewa.

Clarence nets win
Buffalo News
September 26, 2014

The Clarence boys volleyball team put the final touches on a 3-0 week with a win in three games over Frontier. Matt Dempsey had 37 assists and Tommy Ecker 21 kills.

Frontier held a 21-14 lead in the third game before Clarence rallied to win, 28-26. “We chipped away a little bit at a time,” said Clarence coach Kevin Starr. “They’re a smart team and they were finding the holes. We started to cover better as the third game went on.”

Horbachewski, Carroll help Hamburg spikers knock off unbeaten Lancaster
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports
Thursday September 25, 2014

Iron Man, Superwoman, Batgirl and the Green Lantern were just some of many comic book characters that showed up at Hamburg High School for a highly anticipated boys volleyball match against a visiting Lancaster team that was undefeated in the league.

The Bulldogs came into the evening ranked No. 4 in the latest WNY Coaches Poll while Lancaster was one spot higher at No. 3.

The meeting would go the distance, but in the end, it was the heroes from Hamburg who swooped in to take the match, defeating Lancaster 20-25, 25-22, 24-26, 25-12, 25-19.

Hamburg head coach Brian Carroll called the win a huge team victory while pointing out the play of his seniors, Ohio State-bound Zach Yerington and Doug Horbachewski, as well as junior setter Ryan Dils.

“I think that two players stepped up in a big way,” said Carroll, whose team improved to 4-1 in ECIC I and 7-3 overall. “The whole team stepped up, but Dough Horbachewski had a huge role, both serving and on the left side and in the middle.

“Zach played his role and did what he has to do. I wouldn’t say he was a super hero …he just played the game he needs to play. And Ryan Dils, at the end of the match, started moving the ball around to other players.”

Dils was efficient with his passing and shared the ball with the likes of Thomas Hoff and Bryan Camp when Lancaster began keying in on Yerington and Horbachewski.

“He ran the offense and distributed the ball really well tonight,” Carroll said of Dils.

Lancaster set the pace of the match immediately to take two of the first three sets after a 26-24 triumph in Game 4.

But the Bulldogs used an ecstatic home crowd fueled by fans wearing Batman and Captain America outfits to coincide with Hamburg’s Theme Nights during home matches to convincingly win Game 4 and carry the momentum over for a Game 5 victory.

Carroll chooses not to keep stats, but he did mention that Horbachewski “probably got about seven kills in one game and five blocks per game” in the win.

Lancaster, which dropped to 4-1 in ECIC I play, was led by Tyler Witt, who had 51 assists. Kenny Rudz added 23 kills along with 19 kills from Jay Baumann.

Bulletin board for Sept. 26
Buffalo News
September 25, 2014

The WNY Boys Volleyball Hall of Fame will induct its fifth class of honorees in conjunction with the annual Officials and Coaches Banquet on Nov. 6 at Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant in Blasdell at 6 p.m. This year’s inductees include Robert Pierce (player/coach, Eden), Lance Harrison (coach, Lake Shore) and Jeffrey Ptak (player, Frontier). Tickets, which include beer, soda and buffet dinner, are $26 a person and can be purchased by contacting Dennis Gooch at 683-7204.

High School Extra for Sept. 26: Canisius wins thriller
Buffalo News
September 25, 2014


St. Joe’s Anthony Berardi spikes the ball past Canisius’ Charlie Desmond (2) and Andrew Schake (7) on Thursday at St. Joe’s. James P. McCoy/ Buffalo News


Crusaders win thriller

Canisius and St. Joe’s competed in a renewal of their boys’ volleyball rivalry on Thursday night. When the two schools get together for anything, you can expect a good match.

“The atmosphere was insane,” Canisius coach Tom Weislo said. “It was a full house. Both teams had great support. The noise was just deafening. It was really an exciting atmosphere.”

Weislo had the last reason to smile with a nice road win in five games over St. Joe’s. Junior blocker Dan Barry was a standout for the Crusaders with 16 kills and five blocks, while Trevor Gooch had a .340 kill percentage.

It was the 10th win in 11 matches for Canisius, which also improved to 2-0 in Msgr. Martin play.

“We’re a young team,” Weislo said. “We graduated six of our seven starters. Trevor Gooch is the only returning starter. But we’ve had a great start.”

In girls volleyball, No. 2 small school Eden had no trouble with Alden in a sweep. Meghan Ballou had five kills and five aces in the win.

Errors doom Starpoint spikers in loss to Sweet Home
BY: Nick Sabato, Sports Reporter communitypapersofwny.com
September 25, 2014

It was a big match between two ECIC schools looking to overcome a slow start to the season.

Ironically, a slow start is exactly what doomed the Starpoint boys volleyball team on Wednesday night (Sept. 24) as Sweet Home brought the intensity early and won in straight sets 25-14, 25-16 and 25-14.

The Spartans just couldn’t overcome mistakes on the night as 35 of the Panthers’ 75 points came on Starpoint errors.

“Sweet Home definitely played well,” said Starpoint head coach Kirk Spitler. “But they weren’t unbeatable. They have a couple good outside hitters but I thought on paper and from seeing them play I thought we matched up real favorably, certainly in the middle, but if you don’t pass, you can’t do anything.”

Any time the Spartans appeared to be gaining momentum, Sweet Home went right back to what was getting them points – setting up Connor Heald for a kill.

Heald was a monster at the net all night, racking up 15 kills, and seemingly destroyed every rally that Starpoint had going.

“That’s what you do,” said Spitler. “You feed your weapon. You know who your best weapon is and there are times when things aren’t going right and all you need is one set to go to your big man. Sweet Home did it right. That’s how you are supposed to do it.”

The Spartans were playing in their third match in three nights, but fatigue was not an excuse for Spitler on how his team performed.

“They are young guys,” said Spitler. “I do not think that fatigue is a suitable excuse. It’s still so early in the year. It’s still only September. If fatigue is an issue then we didn’t do a good job of conditioning. It only gets tougher from here.”

Starpoint had hopes of winning the league this year, but a 2-4 overall record, with a record of 1-3 in league play, has dimmed those hopes a bit early on.

A bounce-back game at Lake Shore on Friday (Sept. 26) along with a tournament at Williamsville South and a game at West Seneca East next week could be just what the doctor ordered to get back into contention. 

“We just need to start passing better,” said Spitler. “By this point in the season, you should be working on offensive sets and to be able to change defenses but we are still working on the fundamentals of passing. If you don’t pass, you are done for.”

Andy Tripp had 18 assists in a losing effort for Starpoint.

Mike Belluz also added seven kills for Sweet Home, who is 2-5 overall and 2-3 in league play.

Starr earns 400th win
Buffalo News
September 24, 2014

It used to be rare for Clarence to beat Orchard Park in boys volleball.

The Red Devils have now done it four times in row, but the latest victory proved to be quite special for coach Kevin Starr.

Clarence rallied for a 22-25, 27-25, 25-17, 25-20 triumph Wednesday night, producing the 400th career win in coach Starr’s career. 

Starr has compiled the win total over 35 seasons at three schools (Amherst, Frontier and Clarence). He’s been with the Red Devils for 25 years. He’s a member of the Western New York Volleyball Hall of Fame. He has also coached two teams that have won Section VI titles.

“It’s been a nice long career with a lot happening,” Starr said. “It means a lot to me. It represents every kid that I’ve coached.”

Matt Dempsey had 41 assists, while Tommy Ecker added 21 kills for Clarence (7-5, 3-2).

Red Devils’ girls triumph

Clarence improved to 9-1 in girls volleyball as the Red Devils beat host Williamsville South in four games, 25-18, 15-16, 17-25, 25-19, in a nonleague match between ECIC I and II contenders.

Karley King led Clarence with 14 kills, four blocks and three digs, while Gabbi Pacatte had 13 kills and four digs.

Lady Lancers holding teams to single digits
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Lancaster Bee
September 25, 2014


St. Mary’s senior outside hitter Ashley Drzymala puts away one of many kills against Nichols on Monday. The Lady Lancers dominated the match by winning 25-3, 25-5, 25-7. St. Mary’s is undefeated on the season and has yet to drop a single set. Photo by Patrick McPartlandPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


To say that the St. Mary’s girls volleyball team dominates gets a bit redundant.

It’s said over and over again because they live up to that pedigree.

However, domination can be an understatement to describe Monday’s win against Nichols.

St. Mary’s won in a sweep and held Nichols to single digits in each game 25-3, 25-5, 25-7. That’s a combined total of just 15 points in the match for Nichols.

If the Lady Lancers would have won a game 25-15, that is still considered as dominating the set.

“They didn’t offer much competition,” head coach Don Pieczynski said. “We served them off the court and whatever free balls they sent back, we hammered.”

The starters played about half of the match. Senior right-side hitter Nicole Giardina came off the bench and was productive getting kills without any hitting errors.

With the win, St. Mary’s improved to 10-0 on the season without dropping a single set.

The Lady Lancers are ranked No. 1 in the Western New York Small School Coaches Poll. They are also ranked No. 86 in the country by prepvolleyball.com.

“It’s awesome. We came in ranked 90th and that’s quite an honor,” Pieczynski said. “But it also puts a bulls-eye on our back and some motivation to stay there. We work really hard to retain our ranking, and the girls are aware of it.”

On Sept. 17, St. Mary’s imposed its will again by holding Sacred Heart to a grand total of 21 points in the match. 

St. Mary’s won 25-10, 25-1, 15-10.

That’s right, game No. 2 was 25-1; that’s not a misprint. In that game, St. Mary’s ran off 24 straight points.

“It’s hard to even do that in practice,” Pieczynski said.

It was the last match held in Sacred Heart’s gymnasium, as their new gym will be opening up within the next week.

“It has a low ceiling, so ball control was at a premium and we served them off the court,” Pieczynski said. “We pretty much practice for playing in small gyms. Most gyms we play in are smaller than ours. Our ball control was great; we didn’t have a single ball hit the ceiling.”

The three players continuing to lead the offense are junior setter Bailey Dolegowski and senior outside hitters Leah Meyer and Ashley Drzymala.

“They are really setting the tone for the offense,” Pieczynski said. “Bailey is doing an excellent job, she’s one of the physically strongest kids on the team. There’s not a set she can’t make. She’s very effective spreading the ball around, and the sky is the limit for her.”

St. Mary’s is trying to stay sharp for the Eden Tournament being held on Saturday. That day will feature some of the top competition in Western New York.

Eden is currently ranked one spot behind St. Mary’s in the coaches poll.

“All of my starters are equally talented; it’s hard to single them out,” Pieczynski said. “It’s up to Bailey who she wants to set at any point in time. But we mix it up so everyone gets a taste and stays sharp.”

Lancaster girls volleyball
Lancaster Bee
September 25, 2014

Lancaster dropped a pair of league games to Williamsville North and Frontier, with each match lasting four games.

In the loss to Frontier, middle blockers Lauren Kowalczewski and Kelly Fellner led the offense with 13 and nine kills respectively. Freshman Julia Kurowski also had a big day with 11 kills. Against Williamsville North, she also posted another 10.

Lancaster’s overall record stands at 2-3. 

On Saturday, Lancaster competed in the Frontier Tournament and finished in a tie for fourth. Lancaster had wins against City Honors, Immaculata and Williamsville South, but eventually lost to tournament champion Eden.

Cheektowaga girls volleyball falls to Depew
Cheektowaga Bee
September 25, 2014

The girls’ volleyball team, meanwhile, had trouble getting much going without its starting setter in its 25-17, 25-17, 25-14 loss to Depew on Sept. 17.

“We started off strong, adjusting our lineup without our setter and putting a solid double block against their strong outside hitter, but that didn’t last long,” co-coach Denee Hickson said. “We had mental breakdowns on serve receive, and when we fought hard to get the ball back, we would miss our serve. It is a learning process, and the gel is starting to mold. We will get there and make the necessary adjustments needed to win the next time.”

Cheektowaga returned to action Monday at Albion and took on Pioneer Tuesday, but information about those contests was not available at press time. The Lady Warriors close out their week by hosting Amherst on Sept. 25 before resuming play Monday at East Aurora.

Maryvale girls volleyball wins Cleve Hill tournament
Cheektowaga Bee
September 25, 2014


After splitting with the Lady Eagles during pool play, Maryvale’s girls volleyball team knocked off host Cleveland Hill in the championship round of Saturday’s Cleveland Hill Tournament to take the crown. Members of the team include, from left: front row - coach Tina Raczynski, Charlianne Maciejewski, Zareya Moore, Brianna Gontarek, Jaelah George, Emily Raczynski; back row - Shannon Mowry, Michelle Richardson, Brianna Henry, Jennifer Zindle and Julia Carter.


Maryvale’s girls volleyball team knocked off host Cleveland Hill in the championship round of Saturday’s Cleveland Hill Tournament to take the crown.

After splitting with the Lady Eagles in pool play — a run that also included victories over Mt. Mercy, Olmstead and Cardinal O’Hara — the top-seeded Lady Flyers reached the finals by getting past Mt. Mercy once again in the semifinals. Coach Tina Raczynski praised all 10 of her players for uniting as a team to make the title happen.

“I was proud that we never gave up and kept pushing through every game,” Raczynski said. “We’ve had problems finishing or coming back when we are behind in past games, and we were faced with all of those challenges over the course of the tournament. We found a way to push through them to win games and ultimately the tournament.”

The tournament could not have come at a better time for the Lady Flyers, who were looking to get on track after dropping three of their four matches leading up to the tournament.

Maryvale certainly was competitive in each loss, including a 25-13, 20-25, 20-25, 11-25 setback to non-league crosstown rival JFK on Sept. 17. Emily Raczynski had 10 assists, Michelle Richardson had 16 assists and Julia Carter had five service aces to help the Lady Flyers keep things interesting against the Lady Bears. 

The Lady Flyers were possibly even more competitive in their most recent loss before the tournament, a 24-26, 25-27, 22-25 setback to Pioneer on Sept. 18.

The most competitive of Maryvale’s pre-tournament matches, though, had to be the Lady Flyers’ 19-25, 25-12, 25-21, 17-25, 25-20 conquest of East Aurora on Sept. 15. In that back and forth match, Brianna Henry had 10 kills, Jennifer Zindle had 10 digs and Shannon Mowry had five aces.

The Lady Flyers were slated to kick off their second run through league play Wednesday against Tonawanda, but information about that contest was not available at press time. Maryvale looks to pick up more wins against league foes Springville (Sept. 25) and Depew (Monday), and is also hoping for a solid showing in Saturday’s annual Clarence Tournament.

“We are now starting the second half of our season and even though the beginning was a learning process for us because we are so young, things are starting to go in the right direction,” Raczynski said. “The team is becoming more comfortable with the offense and defense, so we’re looking forward to what the second half of the season has to bring for us — especially after we received that huge boost from winning the Cleveland Hill Tournament.”

(Reporter Jason Nadolinski contributed to this article.)

East boys volleyball aiming to succeed
West Seneca Bee
September 25, 2014

With an influx of half a dozen new players getting into the mix this year, West Seneca East’s boys volleyball team is looking to improve on 2013’s 3-14 record under second-year coach Jay Senozetnik.

The Trojans lost three players off last year’s squad, but four starters — setter Bob Eisenmenger, outside hitter Dan Picciano, right side hitter Jason Najm and middle hitter Kevin Len — are all returning with a year of varsity experience under their belts. All but Eisenmenger have been named co-captains for the team this season.

Vince Leone is also looking to provide a spark in his volleyball debut, while Senozetnik noted that libero Shaun Payne “has proven to be a spark plug and a defensive leader early on in the season.”

“Vince is learning his position fast and is eager to learn more,” Senozetnik said. “What’s nice is that we finally have good numbers and that is making practice a lot more competitive to the point where we have people pushing for starting spots.”

East, which swept Iroquois on Sept. 10, has been competitive in a couple of other matches so far this season thanks to its depth – including a 3-2 loss to Starpoint on Sept. 8 that could’ve gone either way. The Trojans also dropped a 3-1 decision to Sweet Home on Sept. 18. Throughout the team’s matches, Picciano has been the squad’s offensive leader, while Payne “has made everything possible with his back line play.”

“We’ve got some nice height this year, which has led to an increase in blocking ability,” Senozetnik said. “We’ve also proven to have a nice ability to scrape in points that seem to be lost.”

East returned to action Wednesday against Lake Shore, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Trojans don’t compete again until they host Starpoint on Tuesday.

“Williamsville South and Lake Shore have always had our number, but I feel that we’ve proven this year already we can play with anyone — and we intend to,” Senozetnik said. “Our goal this year is to start winning and become a successful program. We know how to play now, so it’s time to find results.”

Orchard Park bee
September 25, 2014


Orchard Park senior middle blocker Jeff Biddle uses all his might to register a kill past Williamsville North’s blocker during Monday’s match on the road. The Quakers won in a sweep, but it was a hard fought battle, 27-25, 28-26, 25-14. Senior outside hitter Martin Hackford led the Quakers offense with 12 kills and he also recorded three aces. With the win, Orchard Park improved their ECIC Division I record to 2-2 which is good enough for fourth place. Orchard Park is currently ranked No. 7 in the latest Western New York Large School Coaches Poll which was released on Tuesday. Photo by Nick LoVerde Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Young volleyball squad improving
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Orchard Park bee
September 25, 2014


Orchard Park senior middle blocker Olivia Jacobs runs a quick attack in the middle without any block against Clarence on Friday. The Lady Quakers lost the match in three games, but have improved their play enough to have an overall record of 9-8. Photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


The Lady Quakers have successfully turned their season around by getting over the .500 mark.

At one point, Orchard Park was 1-6 on the season. But after finding some rhythm, the Lady Quakers are now 9-8.

“I hope we peak on the horizon, and be our best at the end of October,” said head coach Greg Lardo. “We might have been nervous going in, but nobody scares us now. We respect a lot of teams, but it’s not like we are never going to beat them.”

Orchard Park has been featuring pretty much a full lineup with no previous varsity experience this year, including a pair of freshmen.

Liz Chow has been setting all season in the 6-2 system as a freshman.

“She’s learning how to run an offense and getting to know the tricks of the game,” Lardo said.

Meanwhile, freshman Sadie Joba started the year as an outside hitter but has since been moved to the right side. Up through Tuesday’s game against Mercy, Joba had registered 57 kills this year.

“She’s getting more in-system plays and taking good swings at it,” Lardo added. “She made some errors in the beginning and now she is starting to make a difference with heads up plays.”

On Saturday, Orchard Park won its pool at the Frontier Tournament after beating both Grand Island and Cattaraugus Little Valley/ Ellicotville in two out of three sets.

The Lady Quakers advanced into the quarterfinals against the host school and barely lost a one game playoff 30-26.

“I think our tank ran empty and we didn’t have enough to fight back,” Lardo said.

The previous day, Orchard Park put up a respectable fight against top-ranked Clarence in a three-set loss 23-25, 20-25, 18-25.

In game No. 1, Orchard Park led 23-21 but couldn’t put it away after some missed passes and sending over free balls.

“We couldn’t finish that game but we’re feeling good as to how we are playing,” Lardo said.

Senior Shaye Swiatek registered eight digs and 12 assists in the game while fellow senior Donnett Hickson tallied 15 digs. Junior Madeline Rominger had six kills without any errors.

On Thursday, Orchard Park defeated North Tonawanda in a tight four-set match 25-22, 25-20, 18-25, 25-14.

Senior Riley Moll started the match on fire by registering seven kills on 11 attempts in the first game alone. She wound up finishing the match with 19 kills.

“We’ve proven that we can beat anyone,” Lardo said. “Now we are starting to realize that we are good enough to play at this level. We’ve been getting our feet wet and now the game is starting to slow down a little bit.” 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

East Aurora Bee
September 25, 2014


Iroquois’ Matty Hiam tries to loft the ball into the perfect spot for a teammate’s kill attempt during the Chiefs’ 10-25, 15-25, 18-25 loss to Williamsville East Monday.


No. 2 Flames win in volleyball
Buffalo News
September 24, 2014

Williamsville East swept three sets from Hamburg, 25-22, 22-15 and 25-20, in a match of ranked girls volleyball teams. The Flames (7-0 overall and ECIC II) came into the match ranked second in the Western New York coaches poll while Hamburg was fourth.

“We were definitely led by our two outside hitters, Carly Shifflett and Lexi Novak,” said East coach Scott Wright. Natalie Berrafato led a strong defensive performance by the Flames.

“This was the first complete game we’ve played all season and we had to play this good defense against Hamburg,” Wright added.

In Monsignor Martin Association boys volleyball, St. Joe’s swept St. Francis, 25-15, 25-12 and 25-17, as Anthony Berardi led the way with 10 kills and three aces.

North girls volleyball hands Frontier first loss
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
September 24, 2014


Williamsville North senior Lauren Schreiner fires a ball over the net late in game one of the Lady Spartans’ victory over Frontier on Monday, Sept. 15th. The Lady Spartans won the match 25-22, 25-17, 20-25, 25-23. Photo by Nick LoVerdePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Williamsville North’s girls volleyball team got out to early leads and held off its opponents to move to 4-1 in ECIC Division I.

The Lady Spartans handed Frontier its first loss of the season with a 25-22, 25-17, 20-25, 25-23 victory on Monday, Sept. 22 and followed up with a 26-24, 19-25, 25-20, 25-23 victory at Lancaster on Wednesday.

“We got out to big leads and allowed them to come back and make the games much closer than what they were,” North coach Keith Hopkins said. “In the last game against Lancaster, we were up 16-9 and 24-19 and won 25-23.”

Lauren Scheiner (15 kills), Nicole Gulick (11 kills) and Kailee Terrance (22 digs) paced North against Frontier. Schreiner recorded a season-high 23 kills versus Lancaster. Elise Hopkins added 12 kills and Andrea Kiely distributed 44 assists.

North also lost non-league matches against Eden, 16-25, 15-25, 23-25, and Williamsville East, 24-26, 14-25, 3-25, in a tri-meet on Friday.

North (5-3) faced West Seneca West on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. The Lady Spartans travel to North Tonawanda on Wednesday and compete in the Eden Tournament on Saturday. 

Williamsville East 

The Lady Flames improved to 6-0 in ECIC II with home league wins over West Seneca East, 25-15, 25-19, 25-13, on Monday, Sept. 15 and Starpoint on Tuesday, Sept. 16.

Junior outside hitter Carly Shifflet – leads the team with 148 kills - led the Lady Flames against West Seneca East with 14 kills and 13 assists. Sophomore outside hitter Alexis Novak had six aces, nine kills and 17 assists. Natalie Berrafato distributed 23 assists. Samantha Mendelsohn and Bridget Sleap led the defense with 21 digs and 11 digs, respectively.

Shifflet and Novak both recorded 12 kills against Starpoint. Laryssa Melynk did a good serving, East coach Scott Wright said. 

The Lady Flames also split non-league matches at Williamsville North on Friday, beating North, 26-24, 25-14, 25-3, and losing to Eden, 19-25, 16-25, 21-25.

East hosted Hamburg, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. The Lady Flames travel to Sweet Home on Wednesday and compete in the Eden Tournament on Saturday. 

Sweet Home 

The Lady Panthers went to five games in both of their league games last week, falling to Williamsville South, 25-17, 20-25, 21-25, 25-11, 15-25 on Monday, Sept. 15 and beating Hamburg, 25-17, 25-17, 17-25, 22-25, 25-23 on Friday.

Trailing 11-8 in the fifth game, Sweet Home coach Breean Martin said the fifth game featured a bad momentum swing that went in South’s favor.

South coach Tom Sproull said his players committed fewer unforced errors in the fifth game.

“We had a lot of serving errors in the fourth game,” Sproull said. “The girls responded well in the fifth game.”

Sweet Home’s Rachel Reusch recorded 19 kills, 12 blocks, four aces and eight digs. Emma Hubert added 16 kills. Claire Hiwiller added 30 assists, four kills, three aces and 10 digs. Victoria Rigler added 11 digs.

Melissa Postek (13 kills, 3 aces) and Madison Clark (11 kills, 4 aces) paced the South offense. Brianna Neeley added four blocks and Anna Hoffman added four aces.

In the fifth game against Hamburg, Reusch served an ace to get the match to game point and Hubert recorded a block to win the match.

“It was down to the wire,” Martin said. “It was a great match.”

Against Hamburg, Reusch recorded 28 kills, 12 blocks and 10 digs; Hubert had 21 kills, two blocks and six digs; Hiwiller posted 46 assists, two kills, three aces and 18 digs; and Rigler had 15 digs.

Sweet Home also beat Niagara Wheatfield, 20-25, 25-16, 25-5, 25-22, in a non-league match on Thursday. Niagara-Wheatfield is coached by Martin’s twin sister, Brandi Cocran.

Reusch paced Sweet Home with 30 kills, four blocks and seven digs; Hubert had 10 kills, two blocks and two aces; Hiwiller recorded 39 assists, five kills and 13 digs; and Rigler added 13 digs.

Sweet Home also competed in the Frontier Tournament on Saturday, losing to Mount St. Mary, 21-25, 20-25, in the gold bracket finals, taking 10th overall.

Martin noted the play of senior Emily Carver and juniors Hannah Sigurdson and Tiana Luton, who filled in for regular starters.

Sweet Home went 2-4 in pool play, beating Nichols and losing to Clarence and Webster-Schroeder. They beat City Honors, 30-25, and Sacred Heart, 30-27, before losing to Mount St. Mary.

Sweet Home (5-2, 4-2) traveled to Iroquois on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They host Williamsville East on Wednesday. 

Williamsville South 

The Billies improved to 6-1 with a 25-9. 25-13, 25-18 win over Lake Shore on Friday.

Clark led South led nine kills, three blocks and six aces.

Kim Dunkleman had three aces, Postek contributed six kills and Neeley added three kills in the middle.

South closed out the week at the Frontier Tournament on Saturday. The Lady Billies beat Silver Creek and Sacred Heart and split games with Eden in pool play. They came out of pool play and lost to Lancaster, 30-26.

South hosted Starpoint on Tuesday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They host Clarence on Wednesday.

Amherst Bee
September 24, 2014


Sweet Home’s Connor Heald fires a spike past the block attempt of Lake Shore’s Devin Joslyn during the first game of the Panthers’ four-game loss on Tuesday, Sept. 16. Photo by Nick LoVerdePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Clarence volleyball fights through injuries
Clarence Bee
September 24, 2014

The injury bug decided last week was the perfect time to take a huge bite out of Clarence’s boys volleyball team.

Yet despite being down three starters and an important substitute, the Red Devils managed to find their way into the championship match at Saturday’s annual Sweet Home Tournament before ultimately losing to tournament champion Lancaster, 19-25, 23-25.

Clarence, which was seeded first for the playoffs after sweeping three pool games apiece from Williamsville North and Sweet Home, took North out again in the semifinals (25-19, 25-22) to earn its spot in the finals. Senior setter Matt Dempsey and senior outside hitter Tommy Ecker were both voted to their second tournament all-star team of the season for their play; the duo also earned the same honor at the earlier Clarence Tournament.

“We stayed with the third-ranked team in Western New York, slugging it out with Lancaster before ultimately losing in the finals,” coach Kevin Starr said. “I’m so proud of our guys for overcoming the loss of half of our starters and still working together as a team to play some very solid volleyball. Once we get [middle hitter] Rob [Kuberka], [libero] Mason [Sebian], [defensive specialist] Dalton [Squires] and [defensive specialist] Alex [Martyniuk] back, I think we’re going to be one of the top contenders for the section title.”

Clarence entered the tournament looking to play well after knocking off North — which would be a familiar foe the next day — by scores of 25-20, 25-22, 25-20 on Friday. The Red Devils continued to receive solid play from athletes elevated into starting roles due to the rash of injuries that have hit the squad, which Starr was pleased to see — outside of the circumstances that allowed those players the chance to shine, of course.

“North might struggle a bit in ECIC I, but they’d be contenders for the top spots in any other league before they’re a very solid, big team with a few kids who can really bang the ball,” Starr said. “Fortunately for us, our guys stepped up and played through some adversity to sweep them.”

Dempsey had 30 assists to spearhead Clarence’s effort offensively, with senior David Cummiskey (13 kills), Ecker (11 kills) and sophomore Henry Payne (nine kills) being the major benefactors of Dempsey’s passing. Juniors Adam Southern, Jon Snitzer and Graham Craven came off the bench combined efforts to play solid defense.

Senior Andrew Danzer, meanwhile, “has stepped up his game in the middle to help minimize the loss of Kuberka,” Starr said.

“The only upside of guys going down with injuries is that other players who work hard in practice every day but don’t get to play much are able to get some solid game time,” Starr said.

Clarence’s week opened Sept. 16 with a 22-25, 25-17, 18-25, 25-21, 18-25 loss to Hamburg. Sebian had to exit the game in the fifth set due to his recurring back issues, but the Red Devils fought valiantly to the bitter end. Dempsey set up 40 kills, with Payne collecting 18 of them. Ecker finished with 17 kills, while Cummiskey added 13.

“Mason is our best passer and best defensive player, and he’s … a tough kid, but he just couldn’t go in the fifth set,” Starr said. “The other guys stepped up well, but losing Mason definitely had an effect on the outcome.”

Clarence looked to kick off this week victoriously when it took on West Seneca West Monday, but information about that contest was not available at press time.

Clarence Girls volleyball earns rare win over OP
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter Clarence Bee
September 24, 2014


Maddie Christopher elevates for a kill attempt during the Lady Red Devils’ 3-0 win at Orchard Park Friday — the first victory over the Lady Quakers in coach Mike Meyer’s four-year tenure with the squad. Photo by John NormilePurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com


Clarence girls volleyball coach Michael Meyer finally picked up a victory over Orchard Park Friday and, in the process, pushed the Lady Red Devils to their best divisional start in the four years that he’s been in charge of the program.

The Lady Red Devils improved to 5-0 in ECIC I with their victory at Orchard Park, which Meyer said “made an already big win even bigger for the girls, since we hardly ever win there.” Freshman middle hitter Melissa Ratzel “hit two great serves” at 23-23 to cap Clarence’s first-set rally, which began with the Lady Red Devils trailing as Orchard Park moved within mere points of the victory.

“The first game was highly competitive, and it seems like in the past this was the type of game we wouldn’t win,” Meyer said. “Friday night, these girls found a way to win that game. I think the girls have a lot of belief in their ability to pull things out in the end and it showed, especially in the last couple of points of the first game.”

Clarence, which ultimately won in a 25-23, 25-21, 25-18 decision, was paced by Meghan Neelon’s 19 kills and eight digs, while Gabbi Pacatte added nine kills and 14 digs. Lauren Barnes chipped in with 10 digs and “four very important assists” in the first game.

The Lady Red Devils’ week actually opened on Sept. 15 with a 25-10, 25-18, 25-13 victory over Jamestown. Meyer noted his squad’s team passing and defense, which really started to take shape in the Sweet Home Tournament, “continued to be top notch,” which helped the Lady Red Devils play “some of our best volleyball of the season” in posting the win.

Karley King had what Meyer called “her match of the year so far” against the Lady Red Raiders by posting 14 kills and three blocks, while Pacatte chipped in with nine kills and 15 digs.

“The girls just played extremely well,” Meyer said. “We’ve got some pretty big weapons attacking the ball, so if we can serve receive, play defense and get those weapons the ball, we’re a pretty good team.”

Clarence put the finishing touches on its week by reaching the semifinal round of Frontier’s Tournament on Saturday. After going 5-1 in pool play, including sweeps of Nichols (25-6, 25-5) and Sweet Home (25-15, 25-17), the Lady Red Devils were upended by Nardin, 30-27, to close out their tournament appearance.

“I honestly thought we played well throughout the day,” Meyer said of Clarence’s tournament appearance. “All 12 of our girls participated in and contributed to our success during the first two pool games.”

Clarence returned to action Tuesday against Frontier, but information about that match was not available at press time. The Lady Falcons have also had Clarence’s number during Meyer’s time with the squad, so he was eagerly anticipating that match as The Bee went to press.

The Lady Red Devils will resume play Sept. 24 against Williamsville South and then close out their week by hosting their annual Invitational Tournament on Saturday.

“We’ve just got to keep working hard in practice and keep focusing on things one match at a time,” Meyer said. “We need to stay committed to improving, especially now that we’re about to start our second time through league play. Everyone else is going to be better, so we’ll have to be better too.” 

email: jnadolinski@beenews.com

Mount St. Mary’s recent results
Ken-Ton Bee
September 24, 2014

It was a solid weekend for the Thunder as they won in chunks.

First, Mount St. Mary’s defeated Sacred Heart in straight sets on Friday 25-16, 25-23, 25-16.

Then the Thunder followed it up by winning the gold bracket championship at the Frontier Tournament on Saturday. Mount St. Mary’s finished third in their pool to advance into the gold bracket.

In the finals, the Thunder defeated Sweet Home 25-21, 25-20.

Previously, the Thunder defeated Nichols in a four-game match on the road on Sept. 17 25-15, 25-19, 25-27, 25-17.

Julie Fleming led the offense with eight kills and four aces.

Overall, the Thunder is currently 5-2 on the season.

Immaculata beats Sacred Heart in straight sets, improves to 4-2
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports
Wednesday September 24, 2014

In Monsignor Martin girls volleyball action on Sept. 24, Immaculata Academy defeated visiting Sacred Heart, 25-13, 25-21, 25-12.

Co-captains Sarah Bain and Hannah Boltz set the pace early for the Lady Bears. Bain led the team with 10 aces while Boltz added 10 kills for Immaculata.

Karly Kurkowiak added seven digs for the winners.

The Lady Beats improved to 4-2 on the season, breaking over .500 with a win over Mount Mercy two days earlier.

Immaculata will participate in Eden's annual tournament on Sept. 27 before hosting St. Mary's in a rematch of the 2013 MMA finals on Sept. 29.

Western New York 2014 Boys Top 10 Poll - 9/23/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Canisius (12) 120 1
2. Eden 108 2
3. Lancaster 96 3
4. Hamburg 72 6
5. Clarence 70 4
6. West Seneca West 49 5
7. Orchard Park 48 7
8. St. Joe's 38 8
9. Williamsville South 22 NR
10. Lockport 21 9


Western New York 2014 Girls Top 10 Poll - 9/23/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Clarence (9) 97 1
2. Williamsville East (1) 75 2
3. Williamsville North 56 NR
4. Hamburg 53 7
5. Williamsville South 50 4
6. Frontier 49 5
7. North Tonawanda 47 3
8. Sweet Home 45 6
9. Orchard Park 20 9
10. Tie Grand Island 14 8
10. Tie Lancaster 14 10
Also receiving votes: Niagara Wheatfield, Lockport, Albion and Depew.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (4) 66 1
2. Eden (2) 65 2
3. Nardin 56 7
4. Randolph 42 4
5. Portville 36 8
6. Mt. St. Mary's 30 NR
7. Immaculata 29 NR
8. City Honors 27 6
9. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 25 3
10. Chautauqua Lake 15 NR
Also receiving votes: Southwestern, Falconer, Newfane, Panama and Wilson.

Boys volleyball
High School Extra Buffalo News
Sunday September 21, 2014

Jay Baumann earned MVP honors after he led Lancaster to the title of the 42nd annual Sweet Home Tournament.

Baumann was one of the hardest hitters among the seven teams in the tournament. He made good decisions as the Redskins beat defending champion Clarence in the final, 25-19, 25-23.

Named all-tournament were: Kenny Rudz (Lancaster), Johnny Ecker (Clarence), Matt Dempsey (Clarence), Zach Yerington (Hamburg) and Dylan Lambert (Williamsville North).

NT boys move to 4-0
High School Extra Buffalo News
Saturday September 20, 2014

The North Tonawanda boys volleyball team continued its winning ways with a victory in three games over Niagara-Wheatfield. Donovan Book had 11 kills and six blocks while Victor Willison added five kills with 11 digs for the 4-0 Jacks.

Several of the top teams will be participating in the Sweet Home tournament today.

Albion girls perfect

A pair of multi-sport athletes has the Albion girls volleyball team off to a 4-0 start. Their latest victory came in three games over previously undefeated Newfane in the Niagara-Orleans League.

Junior Kelsee Soule had eight kills and 11 digs. Soule has earned all-star honors in volleyball, basketball and softball. Sophomore Chanyce Powell does all the jumps in track and also plays basketball.

“To be honest, the best thing I can say about those two kids is they are so humble,” coach Ann Capacci said. “They just go out and play. They’re not about their stats, they just play hard. I’ve got a good group of kids.”

Frontier Tournament
Buffalo News
Saturday, September 20, 2014


Championship Bracket Bracket A: North Tonawanda 30 Catt LiV/Ellicottville 18 Frontier 30 Orchard Park 24 Frontier 30 North Tonawanda 23 Bracket B: Nardin 30 Clarence 27 Hamburg30 Webster Schroeder 28 Hamburg 30 Nardin 28 Bracket C Lancaster 30 Williamsville South 27 Eden 30 Immaculata 17 Eden 30 Lancaster 15 Finals: Eden 25-25 Hamburg 23-23 Gold Division Finals : Mt. St. Mary's 25-25 Sweet Home 21-20 Pool A: North Tonawanda 26,25 Frontier 24, 23 North Tonawanda 18,25 Mount Saint Mary's 25,25 Notrh Tonwanda 25,25 Wilson 9,15 Frontier 26,25 Mount Saint Mary's 24,22 Frontier 25,12 Wilson 10,12 Mount Saint Mary's 21,25 Wilson 25,8 Pool B: Webster Schroeder 14,25 Clarence 25,16 Webster Schroeder 25,25 Nichols 8,11 Webster Schroeder 25,25 Sweet Home 20,12 Clarence 25,25 Nichols 6,8 Clarence 25,25 Sweet Home 15,17 Sweet Home25,25 Nichols 10,5 Pool C Eden 26,25 Williamsville South 27,19 Eden 25,25 Sacred Heart 7,8 Eden 25,25 Silver Creek 9,11 Williamsville South 25,25 Sacred Heart 10,11 Williamsville South25,25 Silver Creek 13,11 Sacred Heart25,25 Silver Creek 21,17 Pool D Lancaster 24,25,25 Immaculata 26,14,21 Lancaster 25,25,25 City Honors 18,21,19 City Honors 28,12,14 Immaculata 26,25,25 Pool E Hamburg 25,25,25 Niagara Wheatfield 18,18,21 Hamburg 25,20,25 Nardin 17,25,18 Nardin 25,25,21 Niagara Wheatfield 14,15,25 Pool F Orchard Park 27,25,15 Grand Island 26, 20,25 Orchard Park 25,25,25 Catt.LV/Ellicottville 22,19,25 Grand Island 24,21,10 Catt LV/Ellicottville 26,25,25

Sweet Home Invitational
Buffalo News
Saturday, September 20, 2014


Finals Lancaster 25-25, Clarence 19-23 Semi Lancaster 12-25-15, Hamburg 25-20-10 Clarence 25-25, Wmsv. North 19-23 Quarterfinal Hamburg 25-25, Sweet Home 19-7 Lancaster 25-25, Nia-Wheat 12-18 Wmsv. North 25-25, St. Mary's 22-18 Pool A Nia Wheat 24-15, St. Mary's 26-25 Lancaster 18-25, Hamburg 25-18 Lancaster 25-25, St. Mary's 14-13 Hamburg 25-25, Nia-Wheatfield 18-11 Lancaster 25-25, Nia-Wheat 12-9 Hamburg 25-25, St. Mary's 12-13 Pool B Clarence 25-25-25, Wmvs. North 17-9-19 Clarence 25-25-25, Sweet Home 17-15-17 Sweet Home 18-25-11, Wmsv. North 25-23-25 

MVP: Jay Baumann (Lancaster). All tournment: Kenny Rudz (Lancaster), Johnny Ecker (Clarence), Matt Dempsey (Clarence), Zach Yerington (Hamburg), Dylan Lambert (Wmvs. North).

Will East now 5-0
High School Extra Buffalo News
Friday September 19, 2014

The Williamsville East Flames had to work for it but at the end of the day Thursday, the boys volleyball team remained perfect to start the season.

Leading 18-17 in the decisive fifth game, the Flames recorded three straight points off blocks and then held on to defeat Lake Shore, 25-23, in ECIC II. Each game in the match was decided by two points, with the visiting Eagles forcing the final one by taking the fourth game, 28-26. Lake Shore won the first game, but the Flames roared back to post wins of 25-23, 29-27.

Williamsville East is 5-0, 4-0 in the league – its best start during coach Mike Braunscheidel’s five seasons.

The Flames scored six points off blocks in that clinching game, led by the trio of Mike Shanahan, Kyle Williams and Alex Grano. Grano finished with 11 kills, while Williams had five blocks.

Patrick Irving had 23 assists, while Matt Millace added 14 for the Flames, who return to action Monday at Iroquois. They play at league rival Williamsville South next Friday.

Canisius cruises to win

In other boys volleyball action Thursday, Coaches Poll No. 1 Canisius made it look easy against a Frontier program that’s usually pretty tough to beat on its home floor. The Crusaders swept the hosts, 25-13, 25-8, 25-21, as Trevor Gooch had 10 kills.

Drew Schake added seven kills for Canisius (9-1), whose only loss came to Section V Victor last weekend at the Eden Pan Am Tournament final. Despite the start, coach Tom Weislo says there’s plenty of room for improvement.

“There are two areas of our game we need to get better at,” he said. “We need to get better serving and better digging. ... That’s going to be the focus as we move forward into the season.”

Canisius plays at Rochester McQuaid on Saturday.

In another nonleaguer, St. Joe’s defeated Williamsville South in four games as Joe Koszelak had 32 assists, while Jake Donn added 10 kills.

OP Girls volleyball working to improve on finishing off matches
by BRANDON KILIJANSKI Reporter Orchard Park Bee
Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Lady Quakers have been solid at starting off matches hot, usually winning the first game.

But with their inexperience, turning that first game win into an overall match win has been difficult.

On Sept. 11, Orchard Park beat Lancaster in the opening game 25-17. But then the Lady Quakers went on to lose the next three 23-25, 22-25, 15-25.

Freshman setter Liz Chow finished with 10 assists, one ace and six digs.

“We came out hot and won the first game with a huge margin. But we lost our momentum and couldn’t get it back,” said head coach Greg Lardo. “We had a lot of mental breakdowns and made some careless errors.”

It was the second match in a row that the script went that way for the Lady Quakers. On Sept. 9, Orchard Park beat Frontier in the first game 25-23.

But again the Lady Quakers lost the next three sets 20-25, 19-25, 21-25. Senior Riley Moll led the offense with 11 kills and hit at a .353 clip. 

“Our serving and passing broke down which really lead to our offense slowing down,” Lardo said.

However, Orchard Park showed great improvement in Monday’s victory against West Seneca West.

The Lady Quakers won the first game 25-22, but then went on to finish the match in straight sets by winning 25-12, 25-20.

Moll once again led the team by registering a double-double with 11 kills and 17 digs.

“Overall I think we showed we can play with anyone, and over the past week, our biggest opponent has been ourselves,” Lardo said. “We just need to work as a team to get over the hump of having a let down and push forward.”

On Sept. 5, Orchard Park hosted its inaugural Friday Night Classic Volleyball Tournament at the school. Six teams showed up to play including Hamburg, Lake Shore, Gowanda, Sweet Home and Mercy from Section V.

Mercy wound up defeating Sweet Home in the finals to claim the championship.

Orchard Park finished pool play 0-4 but then found some rhythm in playoffs.

The Lady Quakers defeated Lake Shore in the quarterfinals 25-12, 25-14. But then Orchard Park lost to Sweet Home in the semifinals 25-23, 14-25, 16-25.

Senior setter Shaye Swiatek was named to the All-Tournament Team. 

email: brandonk@beenews.com

East girls volleyball seeking improvement
by JASON NADOLINSKI Reporter West Seneca Bee
Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wins were tough to come by for West Seneca East girls volleyball’s Lauren Clark during her varsity coaching debut last fall. With a year of experience under her belt, she’s hoping that she — and her players — can figure out a way to make them be more plentiful this season.

Though the early part of the 2014 campaign hasn’t been as fruitful as Clark would’ve hoped in that regard, by no means is she discouraged.

“We’re just looking to keep the positivity going as we grow in our skills and as young women,” Clark said. “We still really feel that a much better record is possible, and as part of that, we’re hoping to compete better against teams in our league.”

East very nearly pulled out a win in its season opener against Starpoint on Sept. 3 but ultimately lost (25-27, 25-23, 25-21, 19-25, 15-25) in five sets. Senior co-captain 

Erin Barrett, an outside hitter, led the way for East with 14 kills, while second-year starting middle hitter Amanda Leavell added six kills.

“We took it to them for five games and battled hard the entire time,” Clark said.

Things weren’t nearly as close two days later in the Lady Trojans’ 8-25, 15-25, 20-25 loss to Williamsville South. Barrett once again paced the team with five kills, while Leavell, sophomore outside hitter Julia Reed and senior co-captain Kelsey Beres, the team’s libero, each added a kill.

East moved on to participate in Cheektowaga’s annual tournament the next day, where it split with Cheektowaga (25-23, 22-25), swept Nichols (25-21, 25-22) and Lew-Port (25-14, 25-10), and was swept by Southwestern (15-25, 19-25) to just miss out on advancing to the semifinals by one point on a tiebreaker with Cheektowaga.

Excluding Southwestern, Barrett’s tournament highlights included 16 kills and five aces, while Leavell had four kills. First-year varsity team member Rachel Funk had four aces and set well, while Reed added two kills. Beres was on target with her passing, while junior Emily McElligott also had a kill.

East, which also lost to Williamsville South (8-25, 15-25, 20-25) and Sweet Home (17-25, 8-25, 15-25) during recent outings, came up just short in Monday’s most recent contest, a 13-25, 19-25, 15-25 loss to Williamsville East. Beres’ passing once again helped the Lady Trojans compete, but in the end their determination just wasn’t enough that day.

“While we might have lost, we played outstanding against an extremely tough team loaded with club players,” Clark said. “Our girls played their hearts out for every point. Gabrielle Kandefer played middle and stood out during her play; she has come so far since the beginning of the season. Her timing was great, as she had two kills and played great at the net.”

Receiving play on a regular basis like that put forth by Kandefer against Williamsville East could mean the difference between hoping to improve on last year’s mark and the Lady Trojans actually doing it. Leavell, the team’s leader in blocks, “dominates the middle when she’s playing at the net,” Clark said, while Reed “is a powerhouse all-around player.” If all three can do what they do best, East should have a legitimate shot at achieving its goals for the season.

“Our team unity is huge,” Clark said. “These girls genuinely like each other off the court and it translates during play on the court. They play cohesively and pick each other up when they’re down, and our bench players cheer and keep the attitude positive for the girls on the court.”

East resumes play Friday at Iroquois.

“We’re hoping that our scrappy play and strong defense will help us face our key league opponents this year,” Clark said.

Warriors’ boys volleyball team opens season with pair of wins
Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cheektowaga’s boys volleyball team wasted little time establishing a winning tradition for the 2014 season, knocking off Starpoint in Sept. 3’s season opener before claiming victory over Iroquois in straight sets on Friday.

Senior co-captains Adam Reichert, a second-year starting outside hitter, and Desmond Prince, a second-year starting middle hitter, led the squad offensively against Starpoint with 12 and seven kills, respectively.

Freshman outside hitter/setter Irving Harrell’s jump serves, meanwhile, kept Starpoint reeling.

Against Iroquois, Reichert, Prince and senior second-year starting outside hitter Brazil Thompson “dominated the net” and led the team in kills and blocks, according to coach John Marcussen.

“This team is a cohesive unit that enjoys being together and works hard to be successful,” Marcussen said. “The team hits very well as is good at attacking the opponent. Irving, in particular, is playing extremely well and proving he deserves to be on varsity squad.”

Marcussen expects to receive contributions for numerous other Warriors this season, including first-year senior Matt Nowinski, who “forced his way into the starting lineup with his athleticism.”

Cheektowaga returned to action Tuesday against Holland, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Warriors round out their week by hosting Eden on Sept. 18, and then resume play Monday at East Aurora.

“This year’s team has more hitters and a better cohesiveness,” Marcussen said. “They are driven to be successful. We need to work on our passing and getting a consistent set, though, especially if we want to challenge a team like Eden — which I certainly believe we are capable of doing.”

Central girls volleyball falls to Lady Chiefs
Cheektowaga Bee
Thursday, September 18, 2014

Non-league foe Iroquois proved to be too much for Cheektowaga’s girls volleyball team on Friday, as the Lady Warriors — who were without the services of their starting setter — were upended by a 3-0 count.

Cheektowaga dropped the 25-11, 25-12, 25-18 decision in part because “we made numerous errors on the service line and at the net,” co-coach Denee Hickson said. Though the loss doesn’t impact the Lady Warriors’ league standing, Hickson acknowledged that she and her team are bummed about missing out on an opportunity to build up some positive momentum going into its “homecoming week” match with Depew.

“With our starting setter out, we struggled to get anything going,” Hickson said. “Iroquois is a tough team and we knew it would be a challenge, but were disappointed with our play. We wanted to leave the gym feeling like we played well so that we could gain some confidence for our upcoming games.”

Cheektowaga entered the Iroquois match feeling good about its chances after having knocked off crosstown rival Maryvale in a tight, five-set victory. The Lady Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead and really made the Lady Warriors fight to even the match out at 2-2, dropping the third and fourth sets by 25-21 and 25-23 scores, respectively.

Hickson noted that the Lady Warriors received inspired play from some of their non-starters down the stretch, which helped them pull out the victory. Senior libero Lexi Macadlo was especially clutch down the stretch for Cheektowaga, picking up seven kills from the back row and also stringing together nine service points during the decisive fifth game.

“Lexi is a great leader for our team, taking charge every chance she gets,” Hickson said. “She really helped us dig out of that two-game deficit by playing great defense, not to mention those back-row kills.”

Senior middle hitter Shawnn Foster led the way for Cheektowaga with seven kills and three blocks, while sophomore middle hitter Jena Ponosny and senior outside hitter Kalee Martin both added five kills to assist the Lady Warriors.

Cheektowaga was prepared for the challenge Maryvale would present after playing its way to a semifinal-round finish in its own annual Invitational Tournament on Sept. 6.

Cheektowaga finished second in pool play with a 5-3 record, which earned them a spot in the single-game-to-30 semifinals against eventual champion Nardin. Nardin missed several early serves, which allowing the Lady Warriors to hang around, and though Cheektowaga’s defense was solid, Nardin was ultimately too strong at the net for the Lady Warriors in what would be a 30-23 defeat.

“We were very excited about our play that day,” Hickson said. “Having Alexis [Macadlo] named to the All-Tournament Team was great.”

The Lady Warriors — who opened their season by splitting with Amherst (3-0 loss) and East Aurora (3-2 win) — were slated to face Springville Monday, but that contest had to be rescheduled due to what Hickson called “an emergency at their school.” Information was not available at press time as to when that match would be made up, nor was there any available about their match against Depew on Wednesday.

The Lady Warriors (2-2, 2-1 league) resume play Monday at Albion.

Eden boys volleyball downs Cheektowaga
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports
Thursday September 18, 2014

The Cheektowaga Warriors put up a match, but they could not keep up with Eden when it was all said and done.

The Raiders traveled to Cheektowaga on Sept. 18 for a boys volleyball contest, coming out with a 25-12, 25-17, 25-15 victory.

The first and third sets were all Eden, but it was the second game where Cheektowaga had the potential and a loud home crowd on its side to almost tie the match at one win apiece.

Eden saw the Warriors come back to tie Game 2 at 9-9 and 15-15 before the hosts ran out of steam.

Hayden Herc collected 10 kills and 4 aces in the win. Calvin Nowicki added 30 assists and 3 aces while Colin Rigley had 9 kills.

Eden improved to 6-3 on the season.

Lancaster girls volleyball take down Orchard Park
Lancaster Bee
Thursday, September 18, 2014

For the first time in three years, the Lancaster girls volleyball team defeated Orchard Park during the regular season.

On Sept. 11, Lancaster beat the perennial powerhouse Lady Quakers 17-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-15. Senior Lauren Kowalczewski led the offense with eight kills, while fellow senior Pam Tarapacki finished with six kills and 17 digs.

With the win, Lancaster improved to 2-1 on the season.

Previously, Lancaster beat West Seneca West on Sept. 9 in a five-setter 25-17, 21-25, 25-14, 17-25, 25-7. Freshman Julia Kurowski finished with nine kills and 11 assists.

Depew girls soccer

The Lady Wildcats are struggling with injuries as six girls have been out of the lineup.

On Sept. 11, Depew lost 6-1 to Amherst. Sophomore Ashley Rackley scored the lone goal for the Lady Wildcats. It was Rackley’s second tally this season.

The following day, Depew was shutout by St. Mary’s 1-0.

North Collins girls spikers improve to 4-0 in win over Forestville
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Wednesday September 17, 2014

It could have been a much quicker girls volleyball contest, but after North Collins' dominance in the first game, head coach Dave Burgstahler wanted to give his bench some reps during the second set.

Although the Lady Eagles would go on to lose Game 2, North Collins was able to regroup, taking the final two games to drop Forestville, 3-1, on Sept. 17 at home.

"We knew what they said and they some strength with their taller middles, but they didn't have a lot of power on the outside," Burgstahler said. "The strategy worked great in the first game and I gave some other people some opportunities, but sometimes when you win big you may slack a little bit and that's what happened. We kept it close, but we made a lot of hitting errors in that second game. Third and fourth game...we turned it around."

Sophomore Angela Filkov helped with 31 assists and 8 digs in the victory. Junior Jasmine Filkov had 14 kills and 10 digs.

Freshman Morgan Mathis put up 12 kills, senior Arrika Bley tallied 10 kills to go along with 3 aces, and her classmate, Jenna Keppel, ended the game with 9 kills.

The Eagles improved to 4-0 with the win.

East girls volleyball rallies over South in five games
by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter Amherst Bee
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Williamsville East’s girls volleyball team rallied to win at Williamsville South in five games on Friday, improving to 4-0.

East won the first game, 25-23, lost the next two games, 21-25 and 23-25, and rallied to win the fourth and fifth games, 25-18 and 25-16.

“I think we calmed down a little bit and started playing volleyball,” East coach Scott Wright said. “When they have to dig deep, they always reach down and get more.”

East’s Carly Shifflet recorded 28 kills, 26 digs, three blocks and three aces and Novak added 20 kills, including six kills in the fifth and deciding game.

Natalie Berrafato had 47 assists and 15 digs. Samantha Mendelsohn and Bridget Sleap both posted 30 digs.

Laryssa Melynk added strong play at middle blocker with two blocks and five service points in the fifth game. 

Madison Clark (21 kills), Melissa Postek (18 kills) and Kim Dunkleman (39 assists) led South.

South coach Tom Sproull said his team committed too many unforced errors.

East opened the week with a 25-15, 25-14, 25-15 win over Lake Shore on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

Shifflet recorded 11 kills and eight digs and Novak added four kills, seven digs and five aces. Berrafato recorded 20 assists. Sleap and Mendelsohn contributed 15 and 12 digs, respectively.

East faced West Seneca East on Monday and Starpoint on Tuesday, but information about the matches was unavailable before press time.

East will also co-host a four-team tournament with Williamsville North on Friday at North. The tournament, dubbed, “Friday Night Fight,” also features Eden and Section V’s Mercy. 

Williamsville South 

The Lady Billies downed Iroquois, 25-17, 25-19, 25-18, on Tuesday, Sept. 9. Clark had 11 kills and Postek added 10 kills. 

Williamsville North 

The Lady Spartans (3-1, 2-1) continued an early-season road trip, falling to Clarence, 20-25, 17-25, 20-25, on Tuesday, Sept. 9 for their first ECIC I loss of the season and then rebounded with a 25-20, 25-14, 26-24 win over Jamestown.

North held 19-18 leads in two of the games but made several uncharacteristic errors, including hitting nine balls into the net in the third game.

“They have two outside hitters and our girls were trying to make sure they got good swings,” North coach Keith Hopkins said. “Maybe they tried to do a little too much.”

Lauren Schreiner paced North with 12 kills. Noelle Gulick added seven kills and Andrea Kiely handed out 26 assists.

Hopkins said the team was not firing on all cylinders against Jamestown but served well enough to get the win. 

Schreiner led North with 13 kills. Elise Hopkins added five kills. Gulick won 11 service points and Kiely won 10 service points. Kailee Terrance recorded 13 digs.

North hosted Frontier on Monday, but information about the match was unavailable before press time. They travel to Lancaster on Wednesday and host a four-team tournament dubbed “Friday Night Fight” with Williamsville East, Eden and Mercy from Rochester. 

Sweet Home 

The Lady Panthers played well at their own tournament on Saturday, losing to North Tonawanda, 25-18, 18-25, 16-18, in the semifinals.

“We led 13-9 in the third game and got into some serve receive trouble and could not side out,” Lady Panthers coach Breean Martin said. “It was tied at 16-16 and then they beat us 18-16. It was an unfortunate end to a good day.”

Sweet Home swept Sacred Heart, Kenmore West and Gowanda in pool play, and beat Chautauqua Lake, 30-19, in the quarterfinals.

Junior middle blocker Rachel Reusch was named to the all-tournament team.

“She serve received for us, served tough, blocked well and led us in our offensive production,” Martin said.

Martin also noted the play of senior middle blocker Emma Hubert, senior libero Victoria Rigler and junior setter Claire Hiwiller.

Sweet Home opened the week with ECIC II wins in three games over West Seneca East on Tuesday, Sept. 9 and Lake Shore on Thursday. Reusch recorded 13 kills and five aces and Claire Hiwiller had 23 assists and four kills against West Seneca East. Reusch had 13 kills, three blocks, eight digs and four aces; Hiwiller recorded 24 assists and four aces; Hubert posted 10 kills and three blocks; and Rigler had 15 digs against Lake Shore.

Clarence Girls volleyball team wins Sweet Home Tourney
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Solid defensive play over the course of the tournament allowed Clarence’s girls volleyball team to claim the championship in Saturday’s annual Sweet Home Invitational Tournament.

Meghan Neelon was named tournament MVP, while teammates Gabbi Pacatte and Maddie Christopher joined her on the All-Tournament Team as the Lady Red Devils breezed through the early portion of competition to post a 6-0 record in pool play against City Honors, East Aurora and Chautauqua Lake. Despite playing a player short, Clarence wasted little effort in advancing to the playoff round.

After pool play the Lady Red Devils defeated Kenmore West, 30-23, behind tough serving and strong offense. They next defeated Orchard Park (25-20, 25-13) with a strong overall team effort. The first game especially was a back and forth affair, according to coach Michael Meyer, but timely kills, tough serving and active defense allowed Clarence to come out on top. In the finals, Clarence defeated North Tonawanda (25-20, 25-13) as defense led the way again. The Lady Red Devils “passed and dug as a team” and “provided numerous opportunities for our big hitters to attack.” 

“The girls were able to maintain a very high level of play no matter who was on the court for Clarence and no matter who we were facing,” Meyer said. “Steady passing, defense and setting allowed our hitters the opportunity to have many good swings. Meghan, Gabbi and Karley King carried the load offensively, but Graycie Enderby, Melissa Ratzel and Emiley Kuhn all came up with timely kills.

“Emily earned us a key side-out in the semis, Graycie gave us a momentum-changing kill in the finals, and Melissa blocked and hit for the last two points in the first game of the final. All the hitting was enabled by the passing and defense of Amanda Gross, Lauren Barnes, Jaide Cummings and Angie Riniolo, and the setting of Meghan and Maddie. Overall the girls played great as a team and earned the tournament title,” Meyer continued.

To prepare for the tournament, Clarence took out league foes Williamsville North on Sept. 9 (25-20, 25-20, 25-19) and West Seneca West (25-10, 25-22, 25-13) on Friday to improve to 3-0 in league play. The North match was hotly contested with both teams playing great team defense. Neelon led the way for Clarence with 13 kills, eight assists and seven digs, while Pacatte added 11 kills and seven digs.

Christopher dished out 19 assists, while King added six kills and two blocks.

All 12 girls participated in the West win, meanwhile, with Riniolo recording two digs and MacKenzie Georger recording her first kill of the season. Cummings started two games en route to recording two assists and a kill, while Gross contributed five digs and “helped to steady our serve receive passing,” Meyer said.

The Lady Red Devils returned to action Monday by facing Jamestown, but information about that match was not available at press time. Clarence closes out its week by traveling to Orchard Park Friday before participating in the Frontier Tournament on Saturday.

“We had a great week of showing a lot of progress towards our goal of continued improvement this past week,” Meyer said. “I am hoping that the way the team played this weekend carries over to our league play this week, and to the highly competitive Frontier Tournament this weekend.”

Clarence Boys volleyball team reaches Eden tourney’s gold quarters
Clarence Bee
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Clarence’s boys volleyball team advanced to the gold flight of a second consecutive tournament Saturday, but like in its own tournament the previous weekend, the Red Devils were unable to reach the championship match — though this time it was a school from Rochester that ended their day.

Victor showed why it is one of the defending state champion in taking out Clarence in the quarterfinals, 25-20, 25-12, after Clarence qualified for the playoffs’ top bracket by posting a 3-3 record during pool play. Starr likened Victor to a college team, but even so said his players weren’t intimidated. In the end, however, Victor — which ultimately beat Western New York’s top team, Canisius, to win the tournament — proved to be too difficult a matchup for the Red Devils.

“We stayed with Victor in the first game, but we were just overmatched,” coach Kevin Starr said. “Our guys hustle, and they aren’t intimidated by anyone, but we didn’t match up well against their big hitters — and they really gave it to us in the second game. (Senior Matt) Dempsey had another great day and our big hitters, (senior Tommy) Ecker, (sophomore Henry) Payne and (senior David) Cummiskey all know that they can trust Matt to get the ball to them, so they’re always ready to attack. Overall, we pass as well as any team I’ve ever had here at Clarence, but our blocking isn’t where it needs to be. We’re making some adjustments this week to try to fix that.”

To reach the gold flight, Clarence swept Section V’s Fairport (25-22, 25-20) and split with Frontier (25-16, 21-25). The Red Devils also lost their pool play match to Eden (15-25, 23-25).

“Fairport — which also was a Rochester-area champion last year — is very big and we didn’t block well but, as usual, the kids played great defense and dug lots of big hits,” Starr said. “As in most sports, if you play solid defense you always have a chance to win. That describes us well this year. We came back strong in the second game against Eden, but it wasn’t quite enough. We needed to split with Frontier to move on to the gold bracket, and we had a very solid first game to secure our spot.”

Prior to the tournament, Clarence came out on the wrong side of a 24-26, 25-22, 19-25, 16-25 decision with Lancaster on Sept. 10. Starr said that Clarence got off on the wrong foot by missing four serves early in its first game, and the Red Devils ultimately just got worn down in the fourth game. Dempsey did finish with 28 assists, though, while Payne had 21 kills.

“In ECIC I, where every team is loaded this year, Lancaster looks like the team to beat,” Starr said. “Against other teams, we can usually key on one or two of their big guns, but Lancaster brings the ball from everywhere on the court. They’re also a great passing team that plays solid defense. We dug lots of balls and kept the ball in play, but it’s tough to mount an offense when the other team is blasting the ball like they did and we’re just trying to keep it from hitting the floor.

“Cummiskey continues to give us a big threat on the right side, and Ecker had a solid day,” Starr continued. “Senior libero Mason Sebian is always in the right spot defensively. Many of our best plays start with a dig or a pass from him. We’ll see Lancaster again this season, and we’re looking forward to having another shot at them.”

Clarence returned to action Tuesday at Hamburg, but information about that contest was not available at press time. The Red Devils close out their week by hosting Williamsville North Friday before traveling to the annual Sweet Home Tournament on Saturday.

Lady Bulldogs volleyball wins silver bracket at tournament
Ken-Ton Bee
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SPORTS weekly wrap up 

The Kenmore East girls volleyball team won the silver bracket championship at the Starpoint Varsity Tournament on Saturday.

The Lady Bulldogs were in a pool with Starpoint, Wilson and Niagara Catholic. Ken East finished in third place with a 3-3 record to move into the silver bracket.

In the semifinals of the silver bracket, Ken East defeated Lew-Port 25-22, 25-16. Then in the finals, the Lady Bulldogs beat Amherst 25-17, 25-14.

“We had great efforts from Sara Taylor, Minde Simons and Alyssa Ghosen, along with the collective efforts of the limited squad we brought,” head coach Sean Leaderstorf said.

Mount St. Mary’s volleyball

The Thunder won a pair of consecutive matches last week. First, they defeated Niagara Catholic on Sept. 9 in straight sets 25-11, 25-13, 25-11.

Senior Nicole Buffamonti finished with a team-high seven kills and four aces. 

Then on Thursday, the Thunder won an evenly matched five-set thriller against Immaculata 19-25, 23-25, 25-17, 28-26, 25-20.

Senior Elise Kreuz had a solid all-around game with seven kills and four digs.

With the wins, Mount St. Mary’s improved to 3-1 on the season.

Frontier falls to OP in boys volleyball action
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Tuesday September 16, 2014

The match seemed as if it was Frontier's to lose after Game 1, but the host team couldn't keep up the intensity for the entirety of the contest against Orchard Park, watching the momentum shift into the visitor's favor as the Falcons fell 25-16, 19-25, 16-25, 12-25 Sept. 16.

"We served tough, we passed well and our side out was good," said Frontier head coach Bill Faust. "They ran into a lot of passing problems in the first game and we were able to serve very tough and very consistent."

Frontier (1-4, 1-3 in ECICI I) began the match with an dominant opening set, setting the tempo and controlling the entire first set.

However, Orchard Park was able to regroup, make some minor adjustments and own the next three sets to win the contest.

"Then we had a total role reversal where the OP starters picked it up and our passing got worse and the momentum totally shifted," Faust noted.

Senior setter Jake Gleason had 17 assists and a pair of aces in the loss for Frontier. Sophomore Zach Gerken tallied 7 kills while Scott Mays had 3 kills on the evening.

Frontier girls prepare to host area spikers
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports Hamburg Sun
Tuesday September 16, 2014


The Lady Falcons will host their annual volleyball tourney this weekend. Photo by Dan Hickling.


While the Frontier Lady Falcons may not have captured the title while taking part in their first girls volleyball tournament of the season last weekend, they are looking forward to winning it all when they host a tournament of their own this Saturday.

Frontier’s girls volleyball tournament is set to take place on Sept. 20, and the host team would want nothing more than to capture the championship of its own tournament after falling short at the St. Mary’s tournament on Sept. 6.

“It’s your tournament at your school, so why wouldn’t you want to win it,” said McKyla Brooks, Frontier’s senior co-captain who is committed to Stony Brook where she will compete as a volleyball and track and field athlete.

Brooks, a returning All-WNY first team selection, joins her classmate, Taylor Kaznowski, as co-captains of the 2014 Frontier girls volleyball team.

The pair shared roles in helping Frontier capture the Section VI Class AA championship last fall, defeating Lancaster for the program’s first title since 2010.

Head coach Debby Schruefer and her coaching staff of Mark Scudder and Rick Mihalik are intrigued to see how their group of girls will respond to being the haunted in Class AA instead of one of the hunters, having fallen short of sectional championship game appearances in 2011 and 2012.

The Falcons may not have played as crisp as they would have hoped to, but a 2-0 start is not a bad beginning to their regular season schedule.

Brooks collected 6 kills while Kaznowski guided the Falcons with 16 assists when Frontier opened the season with a win over West Seneca West in straight sets on Sept. 5.

Frontier continued its winning ways after the St. Mary’s Tournament with a 3-1 triumph over Orchard Park on Sept. 9. Brooks picked up 16 kills and 3 blocks. Senior libero Alyssa Buck helped out with 9 digs.

Schruefer will have Brooks lined up as an outside hitter and middle hitter this season to try to take advantage of certain match ups with Brooks’ athleticism and volleyball I.Q.

The Falcons are looking forward to competing for another sectional championship under the leadership of seniors Angela Michels, Olivia Nappo and Jackie Dufresne. Molly Pienta, Jensen Lee and Sam Murray will sure up the hitters, Rylee Kryszal, Renee Bartosz and Cami Duggan will add depth and experience as setters and defensive specialists, while MacKenzie Karwas, Emma Booth and Kirstie Hall will also play key roles in what Frontier hopes to accomplish this season.

Gowanda volleyball falls to Silver Creek, Logan happy with play
By: Joe Sarro | Sports Gowanda Sun
Tuesday September 16, 2014

It may not have been an outcome the Gowanda girls volleyball team wanted, but there were some good signs that came out of the Panthers' match on Monday night (Sept. 15) when they dropped to 1-3 on the season.

Competitiveness is what girls volleyball coach Ray Logan loved from his team’s 25-27, 25-18 and 15-25 loss to Silver Creek. The team showed desire with one another and an eagerness to win.

“We lost in three straight sets in our first two games of the season,” Logan said. “To win one is a plus, it’s growing. You still want to win, but I’m happy with how we played.”

In the first set, the Panthers battled back to take a one-point lead after being down by double digits to start the match. Silver Creek answered back with a run of its own to tie it at 25. The Black Knights then followed up with two consecutive blocks to preserve the first-set victory.

Set two had some of Gowanda’s shining moments of the match. Da:’Di’ Jones and Melissa Farley led up front for the Panthers while Taylor Olson was helping with digs in the back row. Gowanda gave up an eight-point lead, but a block by Farley sparked a run to give Gowanda a 25-18 set win.

“With some blocks, we were able to get the ball back up and playable,” Logan said. “We had some good coverage and some good volleys in our game.”

Silver Creek ran away with the final set. Serves became a huge problem for the Panthers. Bad serves led to Silver Creek getting a 9-point lead and the Knights eventually won the set 25-15.

“Some of my great servers missed some serves, which made it tough to battle back,” Logan said. “ If we can also come up with some blocks or just be in the right position where the digs come to make it playable, we could benefit.”

The Panthers will head to Southwestern Wednesday (Sept. 17) to face a tough Trojan team. Logan said his team has struggled in league games and hopes to snap out of its CCAA against Southwestern

Western New York 2014 Boys Top 10 Poll - 9/16/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rank WNY Coaches Poll PTS LW
1. Canisius (12) 120 1
2. Eden 108 2
3. Lancaster 95 4
4. Clarence 86 3
5. West Seneca West 55 6
6. Hamburg 51 5
7. Orchard Park 49 9
8. St. Joe's 48 7
9. Lockport 30 8
10. Lake Shore 9 10


Western New York 2014 Girls Top 10 Poll - 9/16/14
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rank WNY Large Coaches Poll PTS
1. Clarence (9) 90
2. Williamsville East 68
3. North Tonawanda 65
4. Williamsville South 53
5. Frontier 52
6. Sweet Home 50
7. Hamburg 46
8. Grand Island 29
9. Orchard Park 15
10. Lancaster 12
Also receiving votes: Lockport, Kenmore West, Niagara Wheatfield and Depew.


Rank WNY Small Coaches Poll PTS
1. St. Mary's/Lancaster (7) 79
2. Eden (1) 73
3. Cattaraugus/LV/Ellicottville 50
4. Randolph 48
5. Albion 46
6. City Honors 40
7. Nardin 30
8. Portville 21
9. Allegany-Limestone 10
10. Newfane 9
Also receiving votes: Chautauqua Lake, Falconer, Southwestern,
Immaculata, North Collins and Sacred Heart.

South Volleyball Wins
Buffalo News
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Williamsville South (No. 4) and Sweet Home (No. 6) played a tense match as you'd expect from two ranked girls volleyball teams Monday, with the Billies winning in five sets to improve to 4-1 in ECIC II. The scores were 17-25, 25-20, 25-21, 11-25 and 25-15.

"It was almost like one team would play well for a set and then start making unforced errors while the other team played well" said the South coach. "The big game for us was the fifth. We shaped up, started letting go of our errors. Everybody needed to point the finger at themselves and own up."

Melissa Postek led South with 13 kills while Madison Clark had 11. Clark also had five service aces and five blocks. Kim Dunkleman had 22 assists, while Annalise Hoffman had four aces and Brianna Neeley had five blocks.

South is 4-1 in ECIC II with the only loss in five sets to undefeated Williamsville East. 

2015 Commits (Boys)
Jerry Strub middlehitter.com
Monday, September 15, 2014

The below list contains Official National Letter of Intent (NLI) signers (DI/DII), verbal commitments and walk-ons who have met the verification standards below. Middle Hitter doesn't put the commitment into the verified category until one of the following occurs: A press release on the college website; A press release in a local paper (a link to the newspaper website is appreciated); The official club website lists the commitment; An email from the college coach (using their .edu email); An email from the club director or head coach (prefer their club email address); I know the person who informs me. Just because someone's name is not on the above list, does not mean that they did not get an official commitment letter. It just means I have no way of confirming it.


2015 Commits
Name School Club High School POS
Will Calaman George Mason Coastal Cox (VA) OH/S/L
Zachary Yerington Ohio State Southtowns Hamburg (NY) MH
Tyler Resnick USC Bones Newbury Park (CA)  

**Highlighted players denotes representation from Western New York.

Eden holds volleyball tourney
By: Marquel Slaughter | Sports
Sunday September 14, 2014 


Eden hosted its 37th annual volleyball tournament last weekend. Photo by Dave Eckhardt.


Robert Pierce believes that the Eden Pan Am Boys Volleyball Tournament — which just wrapped up its 37th annual installment — is the most prestigious tourney around.

With the caliber of talent in the tourney, it may be so.

In attendance was plenty of talent that the head coach and his Eden boys volleyball team were able to witness and play against as hosts of the Sept. 13 tournament.

Pierce does not believe that there is a better place to be for volleyball fans and players alike than Eden for the one weekend a year the Raiders host.

“We try to bring the best teams in the Western New York area and from out of town to come down here and participate in our tournament,” Pierce said. “That is why I believe this tournament is the best boys volleyball tournament in the entire state. You have the best teams from the area, state champions from other areas are here, and there is handful of potential Division I talent and scouts.”

While local programs such as Hamburg, Frontier, Lake Shore and St. Francis and other schools from Western New York such as Canisius, St. Joe’s, Lancaster and Orchard Park participated in the Eden Invitational, Pierce invited Section V elites Penfield, Fairport and Victor, as well.

Victor, the defending NYSPHSAA Class B champion, dropped Canisius in the final to win the 2014 tournament title.

Eden – led by Hayden Herc, Declan Pierce, Shane Smith, Connor Basinski, Cole Overhoff and Mike Seggio throughout the tournament — had a strong outing before falling in the semifinals to Canisius.

Pierce looks forward to seeing how his team regroups after going up against schools that have way more athletes to choose from.

“We’re going up against schools that are twice, three times, 10 times bigger than us,” Pierce said. “There are things we have to work on and we may have been knocked out sooner than we had hoped, but there is great competition here.”

Herc and Declan Pierce represented Eden on the All-Tournament team.

• • •

The Lady Raiders are scheduled to host their girls volleyball tournament on Sept. 27.

At press time, the five-time defending state champions boasted a 3-0 record in ECIC IV play, but it was them underachieving during their participation in their latest tournament that has made this year’s group more focused than before.

On Sept. 6, Eden took part in the St. Mary’s tournament. The Raiders came out as champions of the gold bracket, but a 13-15 loss to Clarence kept them out of the Championship bracket and a chance to compete for the top spot at St. Mary’s.

Sophomore Sam Burgio made the All-Tournament team.

“We played schools way bigger than us, but still would only lose by two points,” said Kailey Ballou, a senior co-captain.

Ballou is probably the team’s most experienced player, according to Pierce. She is the co-captain alongside Brie Tutuska — who Pierce believes is one of the best blockers in the section — and became a go-to player last fall.

“Being able to play at Eden is a great opportunity,” Ballou said. “Our team has always been really good and we have a lot of pressure on us to keep the level that high. I’ve won three state titles already and I really hope I get my fourth one this year. I just want to play my best because these will be my last times playing with an Eden jersey on.”

Although this year’s team is not as senior-heavy as it’s been in the past, the Lady Raiders are still able to play at a high level.

“Last year, we had a much older team,” said junior Meghan Ballou, a middle and outside hitter. “We had Lainy [Pierce] and Heather [Holscher], so we’re a really young team, but we work really well together and we’re closer. We’re a really good team this year, too, and we can become as good as last year’s team or even better.”

In their latest contest, the Eden girls volleyball team defeated John F. Kennedy in straight sets, 25-5, 25-14 and 25-7, on Sept. 9 at JFK.

“When we’re playing teams with less experience, we want to be very sharp. Not let any garbage fall, run our offense smoothly, and they did that,” said coach Pierce. “Every time the ball came over they were real crisp with it, good swings, I liked their energy.

“Plus, it’s a good time for us where if we have an advantage and we want to play other players. We don’t want the levels to fall and they did a good job with that.”

Burgio had eight kills and four aces in the win. Meghan Ballou added four aces and three kills while Tutuska had six kills.

Eden will participate in Frontier’s tournament on Sept. 20 before hosting its own the following weekend as the Raider get ready for another run at states.

“I’m kind of sad that this my last year because I won’t be playing volleyball anymore at all, but since I’m a senior I’m hoping we can win states again,” said Claire Czajka.

Girls Volleyball
Buffalo News
Saturday, September 13, 2014

Clarence, powered by MVP Meghan Neelon, beat North Tonawanda, 25-20, 25-12, to win the title in the 16-team Sweet Home Girls Volleyball Tournament.

The sophomore setter distributed the ball well, played good floor defense and ran a very fluid offense. Making the all-tournament team from the Red Devils was Gabbi Pacatte and Madison Christopher. Clarence, a finalist a year ago, lost to Sweet Home.

Kathryn Krchniak and Braillen Hare were named to the all-tournament team as Lockport beat Starpoint, 13-25, 25-23, 25-22, to win the title in the fourth Starpoint Tournament. “We started off in a hole by a good 5-10 points and fought our way back instead of starting off strong,” said Starpoint coach Kristie Flack. “Lockport played a lot better the next two games, they definitely came out strong.”

Defending tournament champion Albion, which landed Kelsee Soule on the all-tournament, lost in the semifinals to Lockport in three close games. Also named to the all