Red Storm sweep past rival
SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lake volleyball team earned a sweep at home Thursday, blanking rival Lake Placid 3-0 in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference action.
The match pitted the veteran but still young Red Storm against the rebuilding Blue Bombers, and except for the early stages of the third game, Saranac Lake pretty much remained in control. The Red Storm posted the sweep by 25-11, 25-17 and 25-20 scores.
Saranac Lake’s victory came on the heels of its first loss of the season, a road setback on Tuesday against Peru where Red Storm struggled with their serve.
“We played well. We came out really strong. I think the major difference is we initiated play,” Saranac Lake coach Mike Navarra said. “They kept their serves in. That’s something that went really badly against Peru last week. We were missing our serves. The big difference tonight, we were able to play our positions, we were more focused and the serves went in. It’s the key aspect of the game. If you can’t serve, you’re not going to win.”
Sydney Andronica, Meagan O’Brien and Marissa Gibbs all served in double figures for Saranac Lake. Andronica led the way with 17 points and seven aces, O’Brien chipped in 15 points and Gibbs added 13 points. Andronica also turned in another strong defensive effort to finish with 17 digs.
Saranac Lake improved to 2-1 with the win while Lake Placid dropped to 0-3.
“A few players really stepped up with their serve but mostly, it was an entire team effort,” said Navarra, whose team is the reining Section VII, Class C champion. “The whole team looks like they scored lots of points off their serve. They did a great job. I’m happy. I think that will build a little more confidence and lead us into next week’s game.
“We play Saranac on Monday and they have some big hitters,” Navarra continued. “They’re going to want to come after us. I think they’re a little upset about last year’s championship, and rightfully so because they did have a dominant team last year and we just kind of peaked at the right time last year.”
Lake Placid coach Sandy Huber credited Blue Bombers sophomore Grace Crawford with a great effort digging the ball. She also said sophomores Karis Hudson, Evelynn Sharp and Dylan Bashaw made some good plays during the match. “We definitely had a slow start. The rivalry that we have here kind of gets in our head,” Huber said. “Even before we got here, we knew the fans were going to be a factor. I think we paid a little more attention to the stands than to each other and what was going on.
“We knew it was going to be a factor and let it get to us anyway,” Huber continued. “I think in that second game, we turned that energy into more positive play and used it to get pumped up. We started hitting the ball a lot harder and started serving better.”
Holding a 2-0 lead in games, Navarra made a wholesale lineup change to start the third game, and as it turned out, the move backfired. In that game, his new players took the floor for the first time this season and they got out of rotation, and sorting things out caused a long delay in the match. The Red Storm fell behind 7-3 in game three, the starters came back in to regain the lead at 9-7, and then pulled away late after breaking a 19-19 deadlock in the competitive game to claim the sweep.
“There was a little confusion,” Navarra said. “They kind of got out of rotation and we were trying to fix it. We couldn’t fix it. With all the questions we decided we were going to sub them out. I take complete blame for it. It’s my job to make sure they are organized. I felt like I did that in practice, but I put them all out there at once and I think they were all overcome with nerves. They are all skillful players — girls that are going to carry on the torch.”
“We were able to kind of celebrate the positive parts instead of in the first game when we were dwelling on the negative,” Huber said. “In the third game, we had good streaks but kind of lost momentum a few times with the delays. We couldn’t quite finish. Saranac Lake, their middle blocker (Danielle Gonyea), was killing us, and their libero (Andronica) was incredible. She can get to balls 100 feet away in about half a second.”
Saranac Lake will be in its own gym again in front of a fired up home crowd when it next plays Monday against Saranac Central. The teams will meet for the first time since the Red Storm upset the Chiefs a year ago in the Class C final.
The Blue Bombers will be back in action Tuesday, hosting Peru.
Saranac Lake 3, Lake Placid 0
25-11, 25-17, 25-20
LP – Mills 1 point, 1 ace, 2 digs; Hudson 4 digs; Sharp 2 points, 3 kills, 3 digs, 7 assists; Smith 3 points, 2 kills, 8 digs, 1 block, 1 assist; Armstrong 1 dig; Bashaw 5 points, 1 kill, 3 digs, 3 assists; Crawford 2 points, 2 aces, 4 kills, 3 digs, 2 blocks; Burns 1 point, 1 kill, 2 digs.
SLCS – Andronica 17 points, 7 aces, 17 digs; Leeret 3 points, 1 ace, 1 assist; Gonyea 3 points, 6 kills, 2 blocks; Glover 2 digs, 3 blocks; Gibbs 13 points, 2 aces, 6 kills, 8 digs; O’ Brien 15 points 2 aces 5 assists; K. Gay 8 points, 1 kill, 2 assists, 2 digs; M. Gay 9 points, 3 aces, 2 kills, 8 digs.