Victory propels Birds to 4th straight finals

The Enterprise –– Michael Koff

Birds soar on: On Wednesday evening at Schalmont High School, Tori Hargrave, center, along with teammates, Nicole Brower, Erin Gannon, Libby Bjork, Caroline Bablin, and Kimmy McQuade, come together to celebrate after the last point was scored in the Class C semi-final win (22-25, 25-19, 25-10, 25-14) over Galway. Voorheesville moves on to play Broadablin-Perth on Friday at 8 p.m. at Stillwater High School.

ROTTERDAM — The Voorheesville volleyball team bent, but did not break.

The Blackbirds’ opponent in the Class C semifinals on Wednesday night, Galway, was the first team this season to take an opening set from Voorheesville. Since the Birds usually win the first set, it made things a little difficult for the defending champions.

“That was nervewracking,” said senior Caroline Bablin, who cranked hard hits for Voorheesville all night long. “We came here wanting to win, but knew we could lose. I think our want to win was bigger than that nervousness.”

Galway had an impressive first set, playing cohesive volleyball. The opening set was tight almost the whole way, and Galway won, 25 to 22.

Bablin told The Enterprise that winning the first set always gives the Blackbirds added energy to push through the rest of the match. Despite an uneasy start, Voorheesville was still able to press on, winning the next three sets (25-19, 25-10, and 25-14) to seal the match.

“I’m so proud of the girls,” said Bablin. “We really had to focus on going out to win. We know we can lose, and we’ve lost sets before. We really had to focus and put the ball away.”

That’s exactly what Voorheesville did, murdering the volleyball, and digging the ball like holes to China.

Wednesday’s victory put the Blackbirds in the Class C finals for the fourth straight year. The team has won the last three sectional titles, and made the state competition each year.

Voorheesville plays top-seed Broadalbin-Perth on Friday in Stillwater at 8 p.m.

“If we play our best, and bring all our energy, we can do it,” Bablin said of defending the championship. “We just play our game.”

Bablin isn’t the only Birds’ player who slams the ball; senior Tori Hargrave and junior Nicole Brower had their share of big moments on Wednesday. Senior Libby Bjork, an expert server and setter, gave her hitters superb assists.

“We’ve really worked hard on swinging around the block,” said Bablin. “We do a great job with picking sides. I always pick a corner, that makes it easier.”

Voorheesville moved with a quick offense against Galway. The players were constantly circling around the court.

“We’ve really worked on that, and when we do that, opponents are always on their toes, not knowing what were going to do, or what’s coming,” Bablin said. “We work on that a lot.”

The Blackbirds have hopes of a fourth straight appearance at the state competition. There’s plenty of volleyball to be played before then, especially if the team has to rally from behind.

“When we start doing things wrong, we get down on ourselves,” Bablin concluded. “So, I think we need to focus on what we’re doing right, instead of what’s going wrong.”

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