Is Voorheesville volleyball a dynasty?
The Enterprise — Michael Koff
Party time: Voorheesville volleyball players and their coach, Ashley Swint, middle, swarm the court after winning their fourth straight Class C title last Friday in Stillwater over Broadalbin-Perth. The Birds have competed at States for the last three years, and can make it to Glens Falls again if it wins on Saturday.
VOORHEESVILLE — In sports, it is said that three straight titles can equal a dynasty. Last Friday, the Voorheesville volleyball team won its fourth consecutive Class C championship.
Are the Blackbirds a dynasty of Section 2 volleyball?
“Yeah, I guess,” said senior Tori Hargrave, who had 22 digs and 13 kills for Voorheesville in the win (25-17, 25-12, 22-25, 25-21) over Broadalbin-Perth. “It’s nice to know that the team has won in the past; it gives us confidence. It’s a great team.”
Ashley Swint, who took over as coach in 2011, doesn’t really view the Birds as a dynasty. “I see it as continuing success at a high level of play,” she said. “It’s exciting.”
For three years, Voorheesville has tried to win a state title, being the runner-up two times. With a victory this Saturday in the regional finals at Gloversville, the Blackbirds can get another attempt at state splendor.
“It’s definitely frustrating to always be second, but it motivates us more to try and win the next time,” said senior Libby Bjork, who is in her fifth year with Voorheesville. She had 45 assists against Broadalbin-Perth. “Being at States is an honor,” she said. “We’re still looking for that title.”
Swint told The Enterprise that senior leadership has been the key to Voorheesville’s (19-0) 2013 undefeated season. Caroline Bablin, Erin Gannon, Hargrave, and Bjork, who was named the Colonial Council Most Valuable Player this year, have been alongside Swint since she started coaching in 2011.
“Their knowledge of the game and will to win is so cohesive,” said Swint of her seniors. “They want this to go on for as long as it can.”
Over the last four years, Voorheesville’s only losses have come at the state competition. Section 2 can’t touch this team.
“It’s always exciting, but it’s special this year,” Hargrave said. “It’s been one of the best years; every win is that much better. You keep losing players every year, thinking you’re going to suffer, but we don’t suffer. Things are working out.”
It’s hard for the Blackbirds to not shoot for the state competition every season, Swint said. That’s something that is always within reach.
However, Voorheesville’s opposition has been more difficult this year. In the past, the team used to roll in three sets, but the Birds have been taken to four sets in every sectional match this season, including losing the first set in the semifinals.
“That makes us better, physically and mentally,” said Swint. “We fight through it, and try not to give up another game.”
Bjork says that Voorheesville’s confidence is high, “but we try to not get complacent,” she said. “I don’t think opponents are intimidated or scared of us; they would get real pleasure from beating us.”
Losing a set keeps the Blackbirds grounded, Hargrave said. “It’s definitely nice [to win all the time], but every win is a huge deal to us,” she said. “People think we’re used to winning, but we work really hard for it. We’re grateful for everything.”
Depending on Saturday’s result, Voorheesville may end up in Glens Falls again for another chance at the ultimate goal. Hargrave said that winning States has forever been the dream.
“That would be amazing, so validating,” she said, “but getting there is still incredible.”
The coach said volleyball has been “bittersweet” for the Voorheesville players. Although they lost so close to their ultimate goal, Swint couldn’t be more proud of what the team has accomplished throughout the years.
“I’m happy to be a part of this,” Bjork said. “It makes the girls want to come back and play.”