MAYVILLE The No. 2 Chautauqua Lake Lady Thunderbirds shook off one bad game to finish off the No. 3 Portville Lady Panthers on Thursday, in a Section 6 Class D-1 semifinal contest.
Chautauqua Lake won the first two games, 27-25 and 25-17, but Portville looked like a different team in the third game and avoided the sweep with a 25-20 win.
The Lady Thunderbirds remained poised under pressure and calmly dismantled the Lady Panthers 25-17 in the clinching fourth game.
Photo by Scott Reagle
Chautauqua Lake’s Hannah Rauh goes up to lay down a spike during Thursday’s Section 6 Class D-1 semifinal match against Portville.
"With this team, I don't really worry a lot," Chautauqua Lake coach Joanne Meadows commented. "In the past I've had teams where if we lost that third game, it would be hard to bounce back. This team doesn't get fazed by that. That's a good thing."
Perhaps the biggest reason Chautauqua Lake secured a spot in the Class D-1 finals was the play of sophomore Jenna Einink. She was dominant with 21 kills and 16 digs.
"You don't like to focus on just one kid with a team like this," Meadows said. "We have a really strong team, but when you have a kid like that, it picks up the rest of the kids so much. It takes a lot of pressure off everybody that we have a kid that good. Not only does she mean a lot because of her talent, but that she makes everyone else better too."
The offense revolved around Einink in the first game especially, when she put up the team's first three kills as well as the set-clinching kill.
It was never a sure thing that the Lady Thunderbirds were going to win that first game. It was actually Portville that had a chance to put it away up 24-22, but Chautauqua Lake rallied for the crucial win.
"Yes, they were nervous," Meadows admitted of her team. "During the first timeout, they said for the first three points their hands were shaking."
Credit has to go to a young Portville team which started two freshman, three sophomores and a junior. The team's senior captain, Justine Zink, was injured in a scrimmage last week and wasn't able to play.
"They played very well under the circumstances," Portville coach Tim Hinman said. "They were playing for (Zink)."
The underclassmen-laden Lady Panthers came out in the second game and jumped to a 9-6 lead, but Chautauqua Lake turned up the heat, cut back on mistakes and rode a 19-8 run to a 2-0 series lead.
Everyone seemed to be getting into the action for the Lady Thunderbirds in that second game as Einink, Sydney Milleman, Ashton Albanesius, Hannah Ruah and Katie Meadows all recorded kills.
The third game felt different right from the onset, when Taylor Lee got Portville off to a fast start with a pair of aces. A big spike from Shaina Griffin gave the Lady Panthers a quick 3-0 lead.
Griffin was dynamic for Portville with 22 kills and a pair of digs.
"She's been our second-best hitter behind (Zink)," Hinman said of Griffin. "She's coming along. She's only a sophomore so she has a few more years to play club and get better."
Griffin's sixth kill of the set was the game winner.
The fourth game was all Chautauqua Lake as the Lady Thunderbirds grabbed a quick 12-4 lead that seemed even larger with Einink imposing her will on Portville.
"I'm definitely proud of them," Meadows concluded. "It was a tough game."
After a heart-breaking loss, Portville will look towards next year when it will bring back nearly the entire team.
"They're starting to play better together," Hinman said. "They played hard. That's all I can ask."
Meanwhile, Chautauqua Lake earned a date with No. 4 Cattaraugus-Little Valley, which upset No. 1 Randolph in straight sets, Thursday.
The championship game will be played Monday, at 8 p.m. on the neutral site of Jamestown Community College.