ALLEGANY — After an uncharacteristically slow start, the Allegany-Limestone girls volleyball team dropped a first game, 25-10, to an Ellicottville team it swept just eight days earlier.
With just three kills, the Gators’ start looked “bleak,” coach Frank Martin said.
“I told the girls when we came over here, 'We're going to be done in a half-hour if we don't play better than this,'” Martin said. “It was just so poor on so many levels. I don't think anybody played well in the first game and you know, to Ellicottville's credit, the other three games were a struggle and they pushed us.”
Instead, A-L wouldn’t trail a game again. In a 1-0 hole, the Gators efficiently put away three close games for a 10-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-21 CCAA East win Tuesday night.
On Oct. 3, the Gators took a narrow sweep, 26-24, 25-20, 25-17 in Ellicottville.
“We did a really nice job putting pressure on the ball, kept them out of (their) system so they couldn't really set anything up,” Ellicottville coach Katie Auge said of her team’s opening win. “The next couple games we didn't put enough pressure on the ball so it gave them an easier path.”
Kiley Kinney filled the stat sheet with 24 assists, seven digs and six aces for A-L (8-4, 6-3). Morgan Davis led with 21 kills and 3 blocks while Cora Emery had 14 kills and 3 blocks. Lexi Kinney added 10 assists.
Marissa Hamilton led the Eagles (7-6, 4-5) with 21 kills and 20 digs, MacKenzie Czapla made 32 digs, Linnea Jimerson had 19 assists and Sierra Maybee added 9 digs and 6 kills.
“They have an outstanding player in Hamilton and every time she touches the ball she's capable of doing damage to you and I thought she played well,” Martin said.
He noted how CCAA East matches, which will determine sectional seeding points, have tended to be close this year.
“There's a group of us: there's Portville and then everybody else sort of muddled in the middle of this,” he said. “So anybody on any given night can win those. When you're fortunate enough to play well enough to win you're happy with that.
“Every coach would tell you, you'd like to peak in the playoffs and I don't know if we peaked tonight but it was encouraging to see how we battled back and played so much better as the match went on.”
NOTES: At Ellicottville’s next home match Thursday (J.V. 4:30, varsity 6 p.m.) against Cattaraugus-Little Valley, the Eagles will hold an “Alex 41 Strong” benefit for 5th grader Alex Newark, who is currently fighting cancer. Baked goods brought by all J.V. and varsity players will be sold and a signed volleyball will be raffled off with all proceeds to benefit Alex’s family for medical costs.