Lady Rams volleyball prevails on senior night

The Amsterdam Lady Rams varsity volleyball team wrapped up its 2016 home match schedule with a win Wednesday night. Amsterdam defeated the Berne-Knox-Westerlo Lady Bulldogs in four games 23-25, 25-13, 25-17, 25-21 at AHS. It was the last home match for seniors Cinderea Chrzanowski, Kateland Cooks, Morgan Durinick, Ashlin Glionna, Maria Lomanto, and Gianna Perez-Petrone.

And, it was all about the seniors, who started and finished the first game, and all contributed in the win. For some, they got a chance to play positions on the court they hadn’t played before, and for at least one it was the first start of the season. With her team leading 17-11, Gianna Perez-Petrone found herself with the ball in her hands as the server and calmly sent the ball over the net headed for the center of the BKW defense. A pair of Lady Bulldogs made a play on the ball, but it caromed off the net and out of play. Perez-Petrone scored her first point from serve of the match.

“Gianna didn’t get a lot of playing time this season,” Amsterdam coach Christine Sherlock said. “But, she didn’t miss a practice. She put the team before herself. She’s a great kid and a great teammate”

Perez-Petrone started alongside her senior teammates and assisted on points from Glionna and Cooks, who shared in unfamiliar roles in the scoring for each of them. Glionna was in the front court at the outside hitter position when Durinick set the ball for her. Glionna leaped up and hammered the ball to the floor before the BKW defenders could react to put AHS up 19-16. Moments later, with her team trailing by one, Glionna called for the ball and Durinick set her up again and she delivered another successful hit to tie the game at 19-19. Throughout the match Glionna was effective with the strongest part of her game, her serve. The lefty at the number two server’s spot in the AHS rotation was responsible for 11 points and a pair of aces during the match.

“As the second server, she’s consistent,” Coach Sherlock said of Glionna. “For Ashlin it was a matter of finding a place that suits her. Defensive specialist suits her well, but she loved playing at the net tonight.”

Glionna got a surprise before the match as the seniors were being introduced with their parents. Glionna’s brother Kolbie, who attends college in Utica, traveled home to see his sister play on senior night. Kolbie made it just in time to see his sister run over to greet him.

“It means a lot for the seniors to go out winners,” Glionna said. “I’ll remember the fun we had together. Coach Sherlock always tells us to stay up and never puts us down. She always tells us to get up and play hard.”

Glionna’s senior teammate Kateland Cooks took her turn at the servers line and played in the back court, something she hadn’t done all season. And while Cooks didn’t record a point off her serve she did produce in a more familiar place in the Amsterdam rotation, at the middle of the net in the front court. She recorded a team high nine kills and two blocks during the BKW match, establishing a presence that opposing teams have had to contend with all season.

“Kateland has been dominant at the net,” Coach Sherlock said. “Her timing, her presence is noticeable. She has all the raw material to go to the next level.”

Cooks has done a lot since she first stepped on to the court for the AHS varsity as a sophomore back in 2014. The tallest girl on the team actually began her career as a setter but has found her niche as a hitter, a blocker, a force at the net. Coach Sherlock said that college volleyball is in Cooks plans for the future.

“We had a lot of emotions coming into this game,” Cooks said. “We played our game and we all enjoyed it. That’s all that matters.”

Cooks has been part of the AHS varsity lineup along with Chrzanowski and Lomanto for a full three years. Durinick joined them in the middle of her sophomore season when she was called up from the junior varsity program to play in a tournament after injuries and illness had taken a toll on the varsity squad. Durinick made quite an impression making the Schalmont Lady Sabres tournament’s All-Tournament team. The following week Durinick was all smiles when Coach Sherlock told her she was staying up at the varsity level. During the 2016 season the one constant for AHS was that Morgan Durinick was always out on the court.

“’Morgan’s about as consistent a setter-server that I’ve had on a team,” Coach Sherlcok said. “It’s just expected of her, and her serve is lethal. Morgan didn’t come out of a game this season. She’s a solid performer and a good teammate.”

Amsterdam sports team were in the process of making the transition to the Foothills Council for the 2014 season. The Lady Rams had a group of talented hitters, but needed someone to pass the ball to them. Durinick made the transition smoother for AHS as the team faced a number of Foothills Council teams that a few would even make it to the state finals. Durinick remembered when she learned she would be staying on varsity.

“It was crazy, and it happened so fast,” Durinick said. “I was nervous when I first tried out for volleyball, but once the season started rolling it felt so natural. I’ll always remember first playing for Crosby’s (AHS coach Chris Crosby) junior varsity team. I’ll miss the energy, setting a point, getting a kill, everything falling into place. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”

Durinick was true to form against the Lady Bulldogs and scored nine of her team high 17 points from her serve, including five aces in games three and four, and contributed a pair of kills in the last two games. Durinick also credited one of her senior teammates, Maria Lomanto, for encouraging her to try out for the AHS volleyball team.

“Thanks to Maria,” Durinick said. “She pushed me to try out.”

Lomanto was another consistent presence on the court for AHS and helped the Lady Rams put the finishing touches on the win over BKW. Lomanto served up six of her ten points in the fourth game including one ace, and was second on the team with seven kills. The senior outside hitter put the match in the win column for the Lady Rams serving up he final point. Lomanto reflected on when she was first asked to try out for the AHS team, and on what she will miss most.

“This is the last time I’ll play volleyball on this court,” Lomanto said. “It was a great day to remember. I’ll miss volleyball and I’ll miss my teammates. I love every, single one of my teammates, some that I’ve been playing with since the tenth grade. I’ll miss them and remember their constant support.”

For every good hitter and server in volleyball, a team needs someone who can play defense. The Lady Rams found that player in Cinderea Chrzanowski, who led the Lady Rams throughout the season in digs. Chrzanowski added 12 more to that total on Wednesday along with 14 points from her serve including five aces. During the opening game Chrzanowski even attempted a kill. Her consistency from the libero position made the perfect complement to the play of her teammates. Earlier in the season Chrzanowski suffered an injury at a match in Gloversville. Coach Sherlock said that her team couldn’t be without their senior libero for long, noting how important Chrzanowki is to the AHS cause. The AHS offense often starts with a dig by its libero Cinderea Chrzanowski.

“Cinderea is a good hitter, but she accepted her role as libero,” Coach Sherlock said. “She has really helped us on defense. She’s an unselfish player.”

The six seniors started and finished game one, and despite having players in positions they weren’t accustomed to, they nearly won the opening set.

“The point of that game was to have fun,” Coach Sherlock said. “The kids had fun, and the parents got to see them play. Mission accomplished.”

The six AHS juniors took their turns on the floor in games two through four. Alexandia Iglesias served up five straight points including a pair of aces to give AHS a boost in game two. Iglesias also contributed a pair of kills. Giuliana Pritchard served up a pair of points in game three including one ace, and made her presence felt at the net with a kill and a block. Krystal Dicaprio, Alyssa Kuchis, Lindsay Suidy, and Abigail Saines all had a chance to play and help the seniors go out on a winning note.

Berne-Knox-Westerlo was led by Michelle Ferraino with 14 service points, four aces, and seven kills, and Amber Skinner, who had 12 service points and two kills.

The 2016 Amsterdam Lady Rams volleyball wrapped up the season with a Foothills Council crossover match at Glens Falls on Thursday. The Lady Rams rallied to stretch the match to five games before falling 16-25, 16-25, 25-22, 25-11, 24-26. Amsterdam finished the season 5-12 record overall.

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.