It's not always how you start, but how you finish.
The old saying proved true Tuesday night as the Fredonia Lady Hillbillies closed out a sweep of rival Dunkirk in CCAA West I girls high school volleyball in fashion, 25-20, 25-16, 25-19.
With a slim 19-18 lead in the final game, Fredonia's Makenzie Tarnowski delivered a spike and then served up two aces for a 23-18 lead. Fredonia's Tianna Williams then delivered a spike of her own and Margaret Wright closed out her senior campaign with an ace for the 25-19 win.
OBSERVER?Photo by Sean Pecuch
Fredonia’s Alicia Deering plays defense during Tuesday’s CCAA?West I girls high school volleyball match against Dunkirk.
"We start slow, but tend to end well," Fredonia coach Chris Anderson said. "It's just getting to that one play. Sometimes it's a kill. Mackenzie's spike was beautiful. Tianna just crushed the ball. That definitely would pick up the momentum for you."
"It was a great ending," Dunkirk coach Kim Delgado said. "I would have rather been on the other side of that."
In the opening game, both teams battled back and forth to a 12-all tie. Then, the home team went on a 10-2 run for a 22-14 edge. However, the Lady Marauders battled back and made it a four-point game at 24-20, before falling, 25-20.
"A number of times, we were within a point or two," Delgado reflected. "It has kind of been the story of our season. We will be within a point or two and can't seem to finish it in the end. They start to fall apart and make silly errors. The girls don't like when I make excuses for them, but we are a young team and had a lot of turnover in players this year. This game we had to have two jayvee players play for us. I was impressed because we played better than we did against them in the first meeting."
In the second game, a mixture of Tarnowski's serving and a few Dunkirk miscues led to the Lady Hillbillies finishing the game on an 11-2 run for the 25-16 victory.
"Mackenzie did a real nice job in that one," Anderson noted. "She put some pressure on them with the serving. When you can let your defense rest long enough and put enough pressure on them with the serving, then you can make some really nice things happen."
"I think if we ever only played to 15, we would win more games," Delgado said with a laugh.
Fredonia jumped out to an 8-4 edge, but Dunkirk responded and tied the game 8-8 and 9-9. Fredonia was able to get the lead up to 14-0, but the Lady Marauders tied it up at 14-all.
"It's nice to see when you get that one point where everything starts to move in the right direction - just a pass or serve - whatever it is, so you're moving in the right direction and start to play good volleyball," Anderson noted. "You have to find that moment and once it occurs, you have to continue that momentum throughout the rest of the game."
Fredonia did just that thanks to Tarnowski's serves as it closed out the game on the 11-2 run.
In the final game, the Lady Marauders came out strong with a 6-1 lead. However, Fredonia regained the momentum and took its first lead of the game at 18-17, before Tarnowski and Williams had spikes along with the aces for the win.
"They have some really good hitters," Delgado said of Fredonia. "We seemed to be a little slow and hesitant and you can't hesitate with hitters like that. They were waiting for the other girl and part of that is having new players coming up from jayvee."
Tarnowski finished with nine aces and seven kills while Maddy Crandall had 16 assists, two aces and as many kills. Emily Ludwig charted four aces and four kills in the win.
It was also the final regular season game for seniors Margaret Wright and Alicia Deering.
"I appreciate my seniors and the work they have done," Anderson said. "They have done really good work. They come to practice and work hard every single day. They always try to get better. They try to do the little things right every time they touch the ball. You can't coach that. That's a drive the kids themselves have to have. I'm going to miss them next year for sure."
The Lady Marauders were led by Alexis Clark's four aces, seven kills, one assist and three blocks, and Natasha Colon's one ace, three digs an eight assists. Cassie Sobczak added two aces, four kills and four digs while Sarah Kobel had two aces, two kills, one assist and four digs in defeat.
The Lady Marauders have opted out of the playoffs and finish the season 2-18 overall and 1-9 in the league.
"I look forward to next season because I am only losing three girls," Delgado said. "We will have a strong base. This was a rebuilding year for us."