It’s been said that defense wins championships. Changes to a defensive strategy for any team in any sport can have a dramatic effect. Having only days to learn those changes could have negative results. However, that was not the case for the Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots volleyball team, who successfully defended their Section 2 Class C title Friday night at Saratoga Springs High School with a 25-9, 25-16, 25-14 victory over local rival Fonda-Fultonville after preparing a new defense.
“We came out early and set the tone and that’s definitely what we needed to do,” Broadalbin-Perth coach Mike Calvello said. “We changed our defense, and two days isn’t a lot of time to prepare. The girls get all the credit.”
BPHS’ back court was key in the win defending against the hitting of a Fonda-Fultonville team led by Miranda Nethaway, Emily Littlejohn, and Gianna Cruz that was coming off an upset of number two seed Ravena-Coeyman’s-Selkirk on Tuesday night. Jordan Marshall (9 digs), Madison Fariello (6 digs), and Megan Ryder (6 digs) kept the ball off the floor and into the hands of teammates including Zoe Marshall, who led the Lady Patriots with 11 kills.
“We knew their (Fonda-Fultonville’s) tendencies,” Coach Calvello said. “Our defense was unbelievable. Megan, Jordan and Maddie were great with the digs.”
Broadalbin-Perth started out strong scoring the first eight points of the match on the serve of senior Gabby Smith, who led the team with 16 points and 24 assists. The Lady Patriots complimented that by breaking FFHS’ serve and not allowing them to get into any sort of rhythm. Kills by Cassy Bown and Simonson accented a string of points off the serve of Ryder pushing the lead to 19-7 in game one. Four points off the serve of Fariello made it 23-7, before a kill by Simonson and a point from Smith’s serve ended the opening game. A well balanced effort that kept BPHS in command.
“If we have perfect passing everything is on,” Ryder said. “But even if we don’t have a good pass we somehow always manage to get the ball over the net. Mr. C (Calvello) always told us to never let the ball hit the floor. We never let it hit the floor no matter what.”
The Lady Braves responded in the second game and stayed close to the defending champs tying the game twice on a point from Shyann Vannostrand at 5-5, and a kill by Littlejohn at 7-7. FFHS earned its first lead off the serve of Nethaway at 9-8, but the Lady Patriots kept their composure and again used their defense to create offense and take charge of the game and the match.
Digs by Fariello, passes by Smith, and blocks by Bown and Sheffer put BPHS ahead and kept Fonda Fultonville from gaining any momentum. Sheffer’s first kill of the game put BPHS up 19-16 and led to a string of points off Simonson’s serve that Sheffer put an exclamation point on with her second kill ending the second game.
“Carly Sheffer played great at the net,” Coach Calvello said. “That was the best she’s played all year.”
The Lady Braves were still fighting in game three and led 5-3 after points from Littlejohn (6 points, 3 kills), and Anne Sinicropi (2 points). A block by Ryder ended the rally and moments later Marshall tied the game at 6-6 with an ace. The Lady Braves last lead was at 8-7 before the passing game of BPHS took over and kills by Simonoson, Smith and Bown made the score 12-10 and put the ball in the hands of Fariello who gave her team some breathing room with three points off her serve pushing the lead to 15-10. Fariello later came up with another incredible dig to give BPHS a 22-12 lead, one that her sister Keyana, a member of the 2014 championship team would be proud of.
“She (Keyana) was helpful to me,” Fariello said. “She would take me out in the back yard and teach me how she plays.”
Olivia Casey got the Lady Patriots closer with a point off her serve at 24-13, and Bown ended the match with a defense stop at the net sending the Lady Patriots on to regional play for the second straight year.
“You can’t get good hits without good passes,” Simonson said. “And we don’t get good passing without playing good defense. We’re definitely focused on regionals and we will take it one match at a time and focus on who we’re playing next.”
Broadalin-Perth will play the first regional match on Wednesday at 4pm at Gloversville High School. A win will send the on to a regional final for the second time in as many years.
“They know what my expectations are and this is the reward,” Coach Calvello said. Three months of working and working and having expectations. The girls deserve all the credit.”