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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 18, 2010


With 21-0 record
Lady Birds soar to State Championships

By Jordan J. Michael

It’s an electrifying time for the Voorheesville girls’ volleyball team, to say the least.

After securing a Class C title on Nov. 9, the Blackbirds rolled through its next two matches in straight sets –– Loudonville Christian (25-11, 25-23, and 25-18) last Thursday, and AuSable Valley (25-15, 25-11, and 25-14) on Saturday.

Voorheesville is now 21-0 as it prepares for its second trip to the State Championships in four years. The Lady Birds will join Mattituck (Section XI), Falconer (Section IV), and Thomas Edison (Section I) at the Glens Falls Civic Center at 2:30 p.m. this Saturday for Class C pool play.

“We keep pushing through because we continue to set goals,” said senior Co-Captain Morgan Vandervort, who was a freshman on the team when it made States in 2007. “We all have distractions of life, but we try to get together before each game. The more fun we have before, the more fun we have while playing. We all just mesh really well.”

The big time

This Saturday, the Blackbirds will play each opponent once, starting with Mattituck. Each game will have two sets to 25 points. The two teams with the most number of set wins at the end of pool play will meet at 2 p.m. on Sunday for the Class C State Championship.

Voorheesville hasn’t been facing the toughest competition so far in the playoffs, nor the easiest either. Undoubtedly, the Birds will get everything but the kitchen sink throw at it this weekend.

“We’ll have to adapt to a faster pace,” senior Rebecca Bablin said after beating AuSable Valley. “Each team is the best.”

Thomas Edison, the Class D state champ from last year, is also an undefeated team at 21-0. However, the Lady Birds beat Ravena this season, which is in the State Finals for Class A, and did well in plenty of tournaments with top competition.

“We’re excited for this,” Head Coach Sandy Vorse said on Monday. “We can’t afford to let down because there’s less points up for grabs, but we’re very balanced and determined, so we’ll be ready.”

Vorse, Assistant Coach Vanessa Volpe, and the 11 players have been browsing this week for information on the other three teams, but Voorheesville won’t get a true look until the ball is served on Saturday.

“Obviously, the other teams are great because they’re still alive like us,” said the Blackbirds’ other senior co-captain, Ellie Wagner, on Monday. “We’ve beaten some really good teams already. As long as we play our best and bring our A-game, we’ll do great.”

“It’s hard to judge the other teams until we get to the arena,” said Vorse.

The Glens Falls Civic Center will be the biggest playing environment Voorheesville has experienced by far. Plenty of fans and media will be in attendance to watch the team’s every move, but Wagner says her team isn’t worried.

“We don’t feel any pressure at all,” said Wagner. “We’re really confident. We don’t have to do anything in particular except play our game and win.”

However, Vorse sees the other side of what it’ll be like when the Blackbirds march onto the court with the other three teams.

“These girls will be a little more nervous because it’s such a big stage,” Vorse said. “They don’t want to end the season on a loss, so they should think about all the previous wins and use that to propel the team.”

Avengers

Last Thursday’s win over Loudonville Christian at Burnt Hills was monumental for Voorheesville. Last year, Loudonville took out the Birds in a very tight match for the Class C title.

Hoping to avenge last season’s loss, the Lady Birds came out very sharp and won the first set in convincing fashion.

“We wanted to set the pace for this match so we could have control,” said sophomore Anna Feller, who is very active at the net. “We found holes all day because the defense was pulling back.”

The second set was a nail-biter, and Voorheesville fought back from five points down to win, 25-23, after Jessica Brower made an amazing diving dig to square the score at 23 to 23. A kill by Vandervort and a block by Mariel McGinnis swiftly ended the set.

Volpe, who watches the opponents’ moves during every match, noticed that the Eagles were dropping its defense back to prepare for Voorheesville’s big hits. The Birds took advantage and routinely hit light push shots into empty floor space for easy points.

“She tells us where to put the ball,” Vorse said of Volpe. “That’s a big reason why we’re successful.”

“They expected a big hit,” Vandervort said. “But, we just dropped it in there.”

Wagner told The Enterprise that Loudonville was the “bump in the road” on the way to States. “We were so pumped because we didn’t want to lose to them again,” she said. “We came out and rocked it and now we feel very excited.”

That excitement carried over to Niskayuna two days later for the regional final against AuSable Valley. A huge fanbase, equipped with signs and cheers, showed up to support the Birds.

The Patriots were no real threat and Voorheesville looked like a powerful team, coasting into the State Finals. Bablin, Vandervort, and McGinnis combined for 21 kills and Wagner and Brower split 33 digs.

“We work for every point, acting like it’s zero-to-zero every time,” Vandervort said. “Before we know it, it’s game point. That makes me upset because I want to play more.”

Voorheesville will have plenty of points to play this Saturday –– six sets worth.

“We’re trying to focus on defense and our attack,” said Vorse, who wears an old jacket from the first year of team camp in 2004 to keep the team’s spirit alive. “We’ll change things a little so we can move the ball around better.”

“We worked so hard to get here,” Wagner said, giving kudos to Vorse and Volpe. “We’ll bring our best game.”

Volpe is optimistic about winning a state title because she can close her eyes and see it happening.

“These girls have the passion, heart, and drive to win it all,” Volpe said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”


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