BPHS volleyball finishes third in the state

Only a year ago the Broadalbin-Perth High School varsity volleyball team became the first in the school’s history to reach the final championship match, playing with the motto, “We won’t stop!” And they didn’t stop, sweeping through the Class C sectionals and regionals winning 15 games without a loss and returned to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Girls Volleyball State Championships at the Glens Falls Civic Center for the second straight year. After Saturday’s round of pool play, the Lady Patriots concluded their season with a third place finish in the state.

BPHS (Section 2) faced the Lady Blazers of Millbrook High School (Section 9), the Lady Tuckers of Mattituck High School (Section 11), and the defending Class C NYSPHSAA champion Lady Raiders of Eden High School (Section 6) in the morning session at the center court. The Lady Patriots dropped the first four games of the session, two each to Millbrook and Eden, before defeating Mattituck in the opening game of their match and splitting the two game set with the Lady Tuckers. BPHS and Mattituck both finished with 1-5 records, but Broadalbin-Perth was ahead of Mattituck in points scored 111- 97 to take third place. The day on the court however wasn’t the best for the Lady Patriots, who struggled to find a rhythm particularly from the service line where many chances were one and side out.

“We didn’t get into a flow and that hurt us,” Broadalbin-Perth head coach Mike Calvello said. “It was just one of those days that things didn’t go our way.”

The Lady Patriots began the day against an opponent they hadn’t faced in last year’s tournament in Millbrook. The Lady Blazers won the Mid Hudson region after defeating Spackenkill in their sectional final. BPHS defended well and often returned the serve setting up hits with accurate passes as they had done throughout the season, but the teams on the opposite side of the net were a mirror image of them and put together more hits to help hold their serve. BPHS and Millbrook were within a point of each other often during both games, but the Lady Blazer’s Kayla Gusikoff served up five points in the middle of game one to stretch Millbrook’s lead to 13-6 forcing the Lady Patriots play catch up, and got five kills from Meghan Fergus in the second game to keep BPHS from going on a run. Still, Broadalbin-Perth managed to rally, pulling to 21-20 behind the serve of senior Gabby Smith and hitting by junior Jordan Marshall, and seniors Zoe Simonson and Megan Ryder.

“I was happy with how we came back against Millbrook,” Coach Calvello said. “If we played as we did all year this could have been a different situation.”

After dropping both games to Millbrook 25-16, 25-21, BPHS had to contend with the four-time defending NYSPHSAA Class C champion Lady Raiders of Eden led by last year’s tournament MVP junior Samantha Burgio. Eden took the first game 25-8, but BPHS put up a better fight in the second and at one point threatened to win the game.

Eden led in game two 10-6 behind the serving of Meghan Cassidy and Meghan Ballou, but the Lady Patriots began finding the open spots on the court and hit down the line with kills from Ryder and Simonson to get it to 11-9. A point off the serve of Madison Fariello cut it to one and moments later a kill by Simonoson cut it to 12-11. With Smith serving, BPHS took the lead at 13-12. Burgio tied it on a kill, but a kill by Simonson gave the serve back to BPHS. Moments later a kill by Marshall put BPHS up by two at 15-13. As the momentum began to shift to the Broadalbin-Perth side of the net, Eden decided to take a time out.

“We were there at 15-13,” Coach Calvello said. “It went back and forth, and we had a chance. I was happy that we came back against a strong team.”

Eden recovered getting kills by Burgio and Samantha Logan to go u 16-15, and then 21-17, and 24-18, completing the two game sweep 25-8, 25-18. Broadalbin-Perth scored better against the Lady Raiders than Mattituck or Millbrook and still had a chance to make the final if they could sweep Mattituck and the Lady Tuckers could sweep Millbrook. That would have sent it to a tie breaker to decide who would face Eden in the final, but it didn’t happen. Millbrook defeated Mattituck 25-14, 25-16 to finish 4-2 in pool and play and earn them a spot in Sunday’s Class C final. When BPHS took the court for the final Class C match on Saturday, it was for third place.

Broadalbin-Perth picked up their only win of the day in the first game against the Lady Tuckers in their traditional fashion, by getting the lead early, holding off a rally, defending well and setting up their hits with precision to finish off the victory.

Gabby Smith’s serve aided by kills from Simonson and Carly Sheffer helped BPHS out to a 4-1 lead. Mattituck battled back behind hits from Kathryn Zaloom to take the lead, but kills by Marshall and Simonson pushed the BPHS lead to 13-9, and a pair of aces from Fariello opened it up to 16-10. Zaloom and Erin Feeney helped Mattituck cut it to 18-14, but Marshall and Ryder responded on pinpoint assists by Smith increasing the advantage to 20-14. A point off sophomore Olivia Casey’s serve, a kill Marshall, a block by Cassy Bown and Sheffer and the final hit delivered by Ryder, who celebrated her birthday on Saturday, gave BPHS the 25-17 win in game one. The Lady Patriots faced adversity again trailing 24-17 in game two, but were true to form showing the “never let the ball hit the floor” mentality. Led by seniors Smith, Simonson, Ryder and Sheffer, the team fought back to get to 24-23 before their opponent got the final point.

“Give the girls credit, it was tougher to get back here,” Coach Calvello said. “We can’t let one day define our season. We had a great league record and won sectionals and our region. It’s a credit to them and all their hard work.”

It was the last time in a Broadalbin-Perth uniform for Gabby Smith, Zoe Simonson, Megan Ryder and Carly Sheffer, who gave their school and their community a reason to be proud.

“It will be tough to replace them,” Coach Calvello said. “In losing them we lose a lot of experience. Our younger girls are playing club ball, and seeing that competition will benefit us next year.”

And next year is already on the minds of the younger members of the team who will return to the gym in a short time to try and make it three trips in a row to the NYSPHSAA championships. Among the returning members of the Lady Patriots varsity team are juniors Jordan Marshall and Michaela Egan, sophomore Olivia Casey, freshman Cassy Bown, and eighth grader Madison Fariello, who received the sportsmanship award for her team during the tournament’s opening ceremony.

“This has been a great experience,” Madison Fariello said. “Last year I saw my sister Keyana digging out everything and flying around the court. This year I got to go out there and play like she did.”

Fariello has a good role model in her sister Keyana, who was part of the 2014 team that reached the Class C state final and finished number two in the state. Keyana Fariello helped her sister get ready for her time on the court from the moment she knew Madison had an interest in playing the game.

“I’m proud of her,” Keyana Fariello said. “She’s wanted to play volleyball since she was in fifth grade. I knew a position on the team would be open when I graduated, and one that needed to be filled. We’ve been working every summer, and to look at her out there and see her play is amazing. I give her a lot of credit for how well she’s done.”

Madison Fariello will be an important part of the team’s future, but as she looks forward to the next opportunity at a state title, players like her teammate Carly Sheffer made the most of her time on the court, and will remember being part of a team that made it to back to back championships.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Sheffer. “Last year was our first time and we were caught up in something new. This year we got to enjoy it little more. Just being out on the court, and being able to be a part of this experience is something I will always remember.”

The Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots volleyball team certainly gave us two incredible years to remember and reason to believe that a small school can get back to the highest level, and could do it again. That look of determination was on the faces of the junior varsity players who were called up to the team for the playoffs, among them Tesa Brody, who smiled with enthusiasm knowing she will be part of next year’s varsity team.

Throughout the season the Lady Patriots played with the mission statement “play and be remembered,” and no doubt, they will be remembered!

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.