There has been something missing on the faces of the Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity volleyball team lately: smiles. When they won their first game Friday night against Johnstown, they started to appear. After winning their second game, they grew brighter. Those smiles turned to celebration when the Lady Rams earned the final point to defeat the Lady Bills in a match that went the distance, 19-25, 26-24, 25-17, 24-26, 25-20, at Johnstown High School.
“Usually I tell you what you did wrong, tonight I’m going to tell you what you did right,” Amsterdam head coach Christine Sherlock said to her team after picking up only their second win of the season. Sherlock noted the setting, serving and hitting of the team throughout the contest, and pointed to the play of setter Morgan Durinick, middle hitters Giulianna Pritchard and Kateland Cooks, and outside hitters Maria Lomanto and Jessica Anderson.
“Jessica Anderson played the match of her career,” added Sherlock.
Anderson (3 kills) was part of a front line with Lomanto (7 kills), Pritchard (season high 13 kills), and Cooks (7 kills) that was responsible for 30 of the Lady Rams 35 kills. Setting them up was Durinick, who had a season high 24 assists, better than a third of them came in the pivotal fifth and deciding game.
Game five was tied 9-9 with Amsterdam’s Cinderea Chryzynowski stepping to the line to serve. The junior reeled off nine straight points with three of those points coming on kills by Pritchard, set up by Durinick. Lomanto also contributed a pair of kills in the final game, both benefited by sets from Durinick, the last kill stopping a late Johnstown rally aided by four points off the serve of Morgan Elwood, and then putting Amsterdam only two points from the win at 23-19. Lomanto later had the ball in her hand at the line and ended the dramatic match with the final point off her serve.
“It’s all about staying strong and playing smart,” said Lomanto, who on several occasions tipped the ball over the outstretched arms of Johnstown defenders at the net to record points. “Morgan did an amazing job setting. Everyone went to the floor to get the ball tonight.”
Both teams were determined to not let the ball hit the floor. Johnstown’s Claire Guzielek (14 points), Ashlin Cosselman (12 points), and Jordan Rose (7 points) made several impressive digs. The Lady Rams’ Chryzynowski (12 digs) and Ashlin Glionna (4 digs) often got the AHS offense started with their determination. A dig by Glionna in game two seemed impossible for anyone to get to. Glionna dove near the sideline and sent the ball careening over the net past a pair of startled Lady Bills defenders and to the floor.
Amsterdam had dropped the first game and was in danger of dropping the second game when Glionna’s dig broke a 15-15 tie. The Lady Bills inched ahead 18-16 on a pair of kills by Alexys Hutxhins. The lead however was short lived and after the next side out, AHS’ Alanna Kaminski served up three points to put Amsterdam ahead 20-18. Moments later, a devastating kill by Anderson down the line followed by another down the middle from Cooks and Amsterdam led 23-20. Johnstown fought back on points by Guzielek, Cosselman, and Janay Douglas to pull even at 24-24, but the final word came off the serve of Anderson and the hitting of Pritchard, who hammered the final two points to the floor for the 26-24 win to even the match at a game apiece with Durinick assisting on each play.
“I’ts about being under pressure,” Durinick said. “ Setting takes skill. Once I get in that flow then the teams carries me through. My team really pulled me through it.”
Durinick kept the Lady Rams balanced in game three setting up kills by Prtichard and Cooks early to keep Amsterdam close and giving a calm, focused Lomanto a chance to serve up her best game of the match. The junior hitter connected for seven straight points including three aces to give the Lady Rams a 15-9 lead. Confident play at the net along with points by Pritchard and Kaminski helped Amsterdam maintain the lead and provided Lomanto a chance to serve out the game getting the last two points. Lomanto finished the night with a team high 21 points off her serve. Chryzynowski was next with 16 points followed by Kaminski with 10.
“Going off with a win is big,” Kaminiski said. “Next week is our last week, so it feels good to go off with a win. We played our hearts out and we needed this.”
Durinick and Anderson added seven points each off their serve, Pritchard had two points and senior Danielle Heck had one ace. The Lady Bills got ten points from Elwood to compliment the efforts of Giuzielek and Cosselman, and 11 points from Mackenzie Ward with five of those points coming in a fourth game that forced the tie breaker. But, the night belonged to Amsterdam.
“This is how I know they can play,” Coach Sherlock said. “It’s all in their heads. If they played like this earlier in the season we could have had six more wins. Every single one of them played well tonight. We stayed positive, and I’m proud of them.”
Amsterdam is back in action today at the Cobleskill Richmondville tournament, and next week at Mekeel Christian Academy on Monday, and at Broadalbin-Perth on Tuesday. The Lady Rams wrap up the regular season with a match at home on Thursday against Glens Falls.
(Photos by Scott Mulford)