Lady Rams volleyball top Mayfield in three games

As the Amsterdam girls varsity volleyball team stepped on the court Monday night for their match with the Mayfield Lady Panthers, they were without senior libero Cinderea Chrzanowski. When it was over, the team had shown that they had learned to play defense in the same determined manner as the three year varsity starter. Amsterdam defeated the defending Class D sectional champs in three games 25-19, 27-25, 25-20 at Amsterdam High School.

“Losing Cinderea is a tough one,” Amsterdam coach Christine Sherlock said. “We survived without her but I’d rather not be in this position for long.”

Chrzanowski was injured during the fourth game of the Lady Rams match with Gloversville on Friday when she hit her head on the floor while attempting a dig. She did not return for he fifth game on Friday, but according to coach Sherlock was cleared to play Monday, yet was held out of the lineup as a precaution. Chrzanowski’s teammates held it together and played impressive defense especially in the second game.

The Lady Rams found themselves in a battle with a young and aggressive Mayfield squad that lost all its starters to graduation after becoming the first team in school history to reach the state final four in 2015. A kill by Lady Rams outside hitter Maria Lomanto had given AHS a tight 18-16 lead, but the Lady Panthers refused to go down without a fight and responded with a kill by Mikayla Myers to give themselves a much needed side out. Alis Hart stepped to the service line and gave Mayfield its first lead of the match accented by kills from Emily Mormando and Taylor Proctor putting the score at 21-18 before a play rarely seen in volleyball occurred.

On Hart’s next serve the ball appeared headed immediately for the floor for an ace, but at the last moment Lomanto used her right foot to lift the ball up and over the net surprising the Lady Panthers to stop the rally. AHS got the serve back, but another kill by Proctor pushed the Mayfield lead to 22-19. However, the Lady Panthers had difficulty holding their serve and AHS took advantage. Trailing 23-21, Morgan Durinick stepped in and with a little help on an impressive dig by Alexandria Iglesias tied the score at 23-23. Mayfield coach Eileen Rovito called time out to break the AHS momentum and her team seized the opportunity to end the game when a kill by Hart gave the Lady Panthers a chance to tie the match at a game apiece, but the Lady Rams showed once again that they could play like Chrzanowski. Mormando’s next serve went straight for the center of the AHS defense and only a dig by Lomanto saved the Lady Rams from defeat. Lomanto barely had a chance to get to her feet when Katie LaGrange lowered the hammer again and drilled the ball toward the floor. Lomanto’s reaction time couldn’t have bee any faster and the ensuing hit eluded the Mayfield defense to knot things up at 24-24. Myers got the serve back for the Lady Panthers again with a kill, but Mayfield still struggled to maintain its serve and this time AHS made them pay for it. Ashlin Glionna stepped to the line and after a pair of left handed aces, Amsterdam was up two games to none.

“The missed serves got us,” Mayfield coach Eileen Rovito said. “That’s youth, and they’re not used to having to pull games out like that.”

The serving woes looked like they were over in game three as Mayfied built a 7-4 lead behind the serve of Myers and the hitting of Samantha Kent, but couldn’t extend it. After Myers next offering went into the net, Iglesias stepped in for AHS and with some help on a pair of kills by Giuliana Pritchard gave Amsterdam a 9-7 lead and an advantage they would not give up. Kills by Lomanto and Pritchard stopped the next two Mayfield attempts, and a kill by Kateland Cooks would later increase the AHS lead to 15-11. Mayfield would get as close as 15-14 on an ace by Mormando, but a point off the serve of Lyndsay Suidy made it a three point AHS advantage once again. Kills by Lomanto and Cooks pushed the score to 23-19, and an ace by Pritchard put the Lady Rams on the brink of victory. Proctor got the serve back for Mayfield, but a hit out of bounds on the next series of volleys ended the match giving AHS a much needed confidence booster before their next match with sectional champions Broadalbin-Perth. Everyone available on the Amsterdam team had a chance to play on Monday night.

“It was nice to have the opportunity to have kids come off the bench and make an impact,” coach Sherlock said. “The whole look of the team was different tonight and they did show their resolve.”

Amsterdam worked its way out to a 5-1 lead in the first game behind the serving of Durinick and Alyssa Kuchis, and later extended it to 13-7 with Pritchard at the stripe. Mayfield got as close as 20-17 after an ace by Kent, but points off the serves of Pritchard and Durinick put AHS in position the take the opening game at 24-18. Cooks answered on the next Mayfield possession with a kill into the center of the court ending game one. The match was a loss for the Lady Panthers, but the young team without any seniors on the roster kept clawing its way back into every game.

“We’re a very young team,” coach Rovito said. “We played okay for the youth that we have. We’re building this year and improving fast.”

Mayfield was led by Taylor Proctor with 13 digs, five kills, four assists, and two service points. Proctor’s most impressive play though was when she put on the brakes to stop herself from colliding with the bleaches and spectators while hustling after the ball in game three. The Lady Panthers need the leadership of their team captains, and Proctor helped her teams’ cause by saving herself and others from injury. Myers had seven points from serve and five kills, Hart had 12 digs and six service points, Kent had four blocks and three kills, Mormando had nine assists, LaGrange and Amy Laubenstein each had a pair of service points for the Lady Panthers (2-5).

Amsterdam was led by 11 service points, two kills, and 16 assists from Morgan Durinick. Giuliana Pritchard had six points including a pair of aces, and four kills, Iglesias had seven points and one kill, Lomanto had seven digs, four points and four kills, and Cooks had five kills to lead AHS. Glionna had four points with a pair of aces, Kuchis had three points and one kill, Gianna Petrone and Krystal Dicaprio each had one kill, and Abigail Saines and Lyndsay Suidy each had one point from serve for the Lady Rams.

Amsterdam (2-3 Foothills Council, 3-4 overall), heads to Broadalbin-Perth for their first match with the 2016 Class C sectional champion Lady Patriots, who also reached the state final four last fall for the second straight season. A well contested match with the Lady Panthers helps build momentum heading into the match with their division rival. With Chrzanowski cleared to play, the possibility exists for the Lady Rams best defender to be in the lineup on Wednesday night at Broadalbin-Perth High School.

“We have to play defense like crazy against Broadalbin-Perth,” coach Sherlock said. “We’ll be ready.”

Start time for the varsity match is scheduled fro 6pm. Amsterdam will wrap up a busy week on Friday with another match against a division rival. The Lady Rams travel to Scotia-Glenville to take on the Lady Tartans, a team AHS defeated in straight games only a week ago.

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.