Broadalbin-Perth volleyball advances to regional final

Heading into Wednesday’s regional semi-final, the Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots volleyball team hadn’t lost a game, defeating the likes of Albany Academy, Tamarac and Fonda- Fultonville to earn their second straight Section 2 Class C title. Plattsburgh High School out of Section 7 put that streak to the test, but the Lady Patriots kept their composure and advanced to their second straight regional final in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) tournament with a 27-25, 25-14, 25-9 victory over the Lady Hornets at Gloversville High School.

Broadalbin-Perth built an eleven point lead at 18-7 and appeared to be coasting to a game one win, but Plattsburgh found their rhythm behind the serve of Brianna Quinn and the hitting of Brianna Coon cutting the lead to 18-12. A kill by BPHS’ Zoe Simonson stemmed the tide but Plattsburgh forced a side out and crept closer with Kyleigh Melhorn serving up three points and putting the Lady Hornets within striking distance at 19-16. BPHS was forced to take a time out.

“They were better than what we thought,” Broadalbin-Perth coach Mike Calvello said. “Give Plattsburgh a lot of credit they played well defensively. We went to sleep in the first game and got a little complacent with the lead.”

Plattsburgh cut the lead to a single point at 19-18, but a hit out-of-bounds kept BPHS in front as the Lady Patriots worked to regain momentum. A kill by Quinn put the ball in the hands of Plattsburgh libero Gizzy Spencer, who tied the score at 20- 20 on her next serve. Plattsburgh took the lead at 21-20 but BPHS got the ball back and put themselves in position to win off the serve of Olivia Casey with a kill by Megan Ryder at 23-21.Plattsburgh took a time out and forced a side out on a hit out-of-bounds. Coon then put Plattsburgh on the brink of victory with an ace at 24-23 and forcing another BPHS time out. With clock-like precision, a pass by Gabby Smith found the right hand of Jordan Marshall and the serve went back to BPHS. Hitting errors on both sides knotted the score at 25-25, but BPHS had found its timing and with Ryder serving and Simonson hitting, the defending Section 2 champs finally put an end to the first game.

“We needed to step up and get into a flow,” Coach Calvello said. “Give the girls credit they turned it around and fought through it.”

The Lady Patriots continued to defend and balanced their offense getting hits by Marshall and Ryder while building a 7-3 lead in game two. BPHS outplayed Plattsburgh at the net getting tips by Simonson and Carly Sheffer over the hands of Lady Hornets defenders increasing the lead to 10-5. Time began to wear on the Lady Hornets season, and when Gabby Smith stepped to the service line, Broadalbin-Perth’s serving game was in sync with its defense an the lead increased to 16-7. Kills by Cassy Bown and Simonson kept Plattsburgh from maintaining their serve and BPHS took control of the game and the match.

“We had to look for open spots,” said Jordan Marshall on the team’s hitting. “Noticing when the line is open. Our communication was better in the second and third games. No one was talking in the first game and we needed to step up.”

Broadalbin-Perth worked its way out to a 5-1 lead in game three behind the serve of Smith, who led the team with 22 assists. Digs by Ryder, Marshall and Madison Fariello kept the ball from hitting the floor and were followed by sets by Smith, who used every inch of the court to create scoring chances for her teammates. Kills by Simonson and Sheffer, all set up by the talented senior helped BPHS build a 20-8 lead.

“Defense played a big part and we were getting to everything,” Coach Calvello said. “Gabby Smith was putting the ball where we needed it to get hits. A switch went on in games two and three and we got into our rhythm.”

A kill from Simonson on an assist from Smith forced a Plattsburgh time out, but a point off an assist by Smith put BPHS within sight of the win.

“I look at my teammates faces and I know when they are going to get kills,” Smith said. “I look at the opposing team and notice where they set up their defense.”

Time ran out on Plattsburgh and they had no defense for the last two hits over the net from Sheffer, who with a pair of kills sent Broadalbin-Perth to the regional finals for the second time in as many years. Sheffer was part of last years’ Class C state second place that featured Chelsea LeBlanc, Keyana Fariello, and Lauren Adamchick. Now a senior, Sheffer is making the most of every opportunity on the court.

“It’s a great feeling,” Sheffer said. “Last year was good having the chance to go to the finals, and now being able to contribute is rewarding.”

Sheffer noted that communication is key on the BPHS offense and made all the difference in Wednesday’s match.

“My teammates talk to me and tell me where to hit,” Sheffer said. “I look for the open spots and put it there.”

Sheffer finished with three blocks and four kills. Simonson led BPHS with 15 kills and 13 service points, Marshall had seven kills and five digs. and Ryder had six kills, 14 points off serve, and seven digs. Smith and Olivia Casey each had eight points, and Fariello had six points and four digs.

Plattsburgh was led by Brianna Coon with four points and six kills. Kyleigh Melhorn had six points, Gizzy Spencer had five points, Brianna Quinn scored four points, and Sydney Burdo scored three for the Lady Hornets.

Broadalbin-Perth (17-2) advances to play Salmon River, who defeated Ogdensburgh Free Academy in the other regional semi-final. The NYSPHSAA Class C Regional Final is scheduled to begin at 2:45 pm on Saturday at SUNY Canton. The winner advances to the final four which will be held at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The Lady Patriots will however be without head coach Mike Calvello for their next match. Calvello will be attending his son’s wedding. BPHS junior varsity and long time assistant coach Beth Tomlinson will be in charge on Saturday.

“Coach C helped us get where we are,” Sheffer said. “So we will win this one for him.”

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.