LIVERPOOL – Right up until the time where it counted most, the Cicero-North Syracuse boys volleyball team was not expected to return to its once-comfortable place atop the area Division I ranks.
But when the Northstars swept defending champion Fayetteville-Manlius in the Nov. 4 final at East Syracuse Minoa, it not only avenged three straight losses to the Hornets dating back to the 2022 finals, it gave itself an opportunity to do even more.
Exactly one week later at Liverpool High School, C-NS was on hand, meeting Section II’s Shenendehowa in a regional final with a berth in this weekend’s state championships in Albany on the line.
Even a familiar setting, though, did not save the Northstars from getting stopped by the Plainsmen in three sets as Shen, the reigning state champions from 2022, advanced to this Saturday’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association finals in Albany.
At least at the outset, the Plainsmen’s state tournament experience didn’t bother C-NS, who played an inspired first set and found itself just a couple of points from going out in front.
However, at 25-25, Shen got back the serve and closed out that set 27-25. Then, in a closely played second set, the Northstars again were not quite able to keep up, seeing the Plainsmen prevail 25-22.
A 25-16 third set closed it out for Shen, though the Northstars still had Carter King put away 14 kills and Luke Wieczorek add eight kills. Passing it to King and Wieczorek, Jack Waite finished with 27 assists and also got a team-best seven digs.
Finishing at 14-7 overall, C-NS will see King, Waite, Wieczorek, Colin Dietz, Josh Luce and other seniors graduate, leaving a lot to replace for 2024, when again the Northstars will be the one everyone will try to dethrone.