One Jamesville-DeWitt volleyball team knew the way to a state championship. Another was still learning how to grab glory of their own.
Each set of Red Rams ventured into regional competition late this week, with the boys Red Rams continuing to inch closer to repeating as state Division II champions.
It was J-D against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, the Section II champions, in Saturday’s regional final at Liverpool High School, and with a decided advantage at the net, the Rams overcame its own inconsistency to prevail in three sets.
In the opening set, J-D raced out 16-7, and while the Spartans played better from there, the Rams still cruised to a 25-19 victory.
Burnt Hills did grab a 7-4 advantage early in the second, but once J-D went out in front 10-9, it stayed there, and even as poor serves gave plenty of free points to the Spartans, it still ended 25-20.
The third set saw Burnt Hills lead as late as 16-15, but after all of the struggles on the service line, a series of fine serves by Aaron Ko produced a 5-0 run that saw the Rams go in front for good and, again by a 25-20 margin, end the match, Phoenix McBride putting away match point.
Luke McQuaid put away 16 kills, with Ko adding eight kills and McBride six kills plus two blocks. Avery Kielbasinski had four kills and three blocks as Cam Moynihan got four kills and Tim Cooper earned 34 assists. Owen Dougherty had five digs.
As for the J-D girls, its second consecutive sectional Class A title led to a regional match last Wednesday at Massena High School against Indian River, normally a Section III school but moving to Section X for the fall since the rest of the Frontier League plays volleyball in the winter.
With a strong first set, 25-19, the Rams went out in front, but IR did pull out the second set 25-23 to get even. But J-D quickly recovered, winning the third set 25-19 and, by a 25-20 margin, closing it out in the fourth set.
Cadence Milligan, earning 34 assists, fed it to a front line where Aaliyah Anderson stood out with 13 kills. Merris Kessler (seven kills) and Claire Trevisani (six kills) helped, as did Celia Kemmis with her five kills. Kanami LaClair earned 13 digs and was aided on defense by Sophia Zoghby and her 11 digs.
Now the Rams would go to Gloversville High School on Saturday, bent on avenging last year’s defeat to Section II power Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the Class A regional final, but instead falling to the Spartans in three sets 25-15, 25-9, 25-18.
Trevisani finished with seven kills, but no other player had more than Zoghby’s three kills as she also matched LaClair’s total of eight digs. Kessler and Anderson each got three blocks, with Milligan recording 13 assists.
So the J-D boys alone were heading to state championship weekend. At Albany’s Capital Center this Saturday, the Rams, along with Long Island’s Westhampton Beach and Section V’s Spencerport, will play four sets against one another at 10 a.m., with the best-of-five championship match set for 3 p.m.