Volleyball teams enter homestretch

Sara McKillip plays the ball for Lake Placid during its home match Monday against Saranac Central. (Provided photo — Alicia Brandes)

SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake volleyball coach Mike Navarra said he was dreading this week — a stretch that sees the Red Storm playing their final three matches of the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference regular season, including a pair of contests against two of the league’s perennial powers.

But after starting the run with a huge victory on Monday, Navarra may be feeling a little more confident as Saranac Lake heads down the home stretch and then into the Section VII postseason tournament.

Playing at home to kick off the week, Saranac Lake knocked off Peru in four hotly-contested sets. The Red Storm won the first two 25-23 and 25-21, lost the third 24-26 and then claimed the win by a 25-23 score in the fourth set.

Last year when Peru visited Saranac Lake, the Red Storm wound up dealing the Indians their first and only loss of the regular-season. Peru went on to win the CVAC title with a 15-1 record. This time around, the Indians were on top of the standings again with just a single loss, and the Red Storm took them down again.

Navarra said his team should have swept the match, after taking the first two games and then jumping out to a 20-9 lead in game three before Peru rallied to win.

Samantha Clark leaps to make a play at the net Monday for the Blue Bombers. (Provided photo — Alicia Brandes)

“We just crumbled. We were up 20-9 in the third, we really should have swept them and we just kind of choked,” Navarra said. “There were a lot of intense moments and we ended up pulling it out. I really thought if Peru won the fourth, they would have had all the momentum, but we bounced back. I’m super happy.

“Five of our six missed their serves in the third,” Navarra continued. “I think the key was our personnel putting their serves in. That’s what it came down to. Really, we had the advantage all night. It’s our home court and we play well on our home court.”

Katie Gay had a strong effort serving in the win, piling up 21 points and 11 aces. Teammate Meagan O’Brien finished with 12 points and 10 assists, and Sydney Andronica led the Red Storm defense with 17 digs.

Saranac Lake improved to 10-4 and remained in fourth place in the CVAC standings. Peru still stands on top of the heap with a 13-2 record and can clinch its second straight CVAC championship outright when it hosts Lake Placid Wednesday in the regular-season finale for both squads..

The Red Storm have two more matches in tap, with the first taking place Wednesday in Beekmantown against an Eagles opponent looking to avenge a 3-2 loss when the teams met for the first time this season on Oct. 4 on the Red Storm’s court. That contest marked the first time Saranac Lake had defeated Beekmantown with coach Navarra at the helm. The Eagles currently have a 12-3 record and are tied for second place in the CVAC with Plattsburgh.

After taking on Beekmantown, Saranac Lake closes out the regular season at home Friday against AuSable Valley. After that, the Red Storm head into the playoffs hoping to notch their third-straight Section VII, Class C crown.

Saranac Lake def. Peru

25-23, 25-21, 24-26, 25-23

PCS- Bousquet, 5 points, 1 kill, 1 block, 1 assist, 4 digs; Higgins, 3 points, 23 kills, 1 block, 19 digs; Prescott, 17 points, 6 aces, 5 kills, 15 digs; Seymour, 4 kills, 3 digs; Clary, 12 points, 4 aces, 4 kills, 39 assists, 7 digs; Martin, 6 points, 2 ace, 5 assist, 5 kills, 2 blocks, 1 assist, 3 digs; Timmons, 8 points, 1 ace, 1 assist, 38 digs.

SLCS- Andronica, 17 digs, 3 points; Leeret, 7 kills, 6 digs, 4 points; O’Brien, 4 aces, 1 kill, 6 digs, 12 points, 10 assists; Sanford, 1 assist; K. Gay, 11 aces, 5 kills, 7 digs, 21 points, 1 assist; M. Gay, 1 ace, 3 kills, 9 digs, 13 points; Whitson, 1 ace, 1 kill, 1 dig, 7 points.

Saranac Central 3, Lake Placid 1

Although Lake Placid’s volleyball didn’t come out on top Monday at home on senior night, the Blue Bombers played pretty well during a 3-1 loss to Saranac Central.

On an emotional evening where Lake Placid honored its only senior in the lineup, Sara McKillip, the Blue Bombers dropped the first two games against the Chiefs, won the third and then came up short in the fourth. Saranac was victorious by 25-16, 25-23, 22-25 and 25-18 scores.

The Chiefs improved to 7-8, while the Blue Bombers fell to 2-13 and will wrap up their regular-season Wednesday at Peru.

Despite the loss, Lake Placid’s main focus since the start of the season has been a November 9 showdown against Northern Adirondack, as those two teams are the only Class D representatives in Section VII and will meet up in the championship final.

Lake Placid coach Sandy Huber said she was pleased with her team’s effort and noted the biggest problem her players had was dealing with Saranac’s Madison DuBray, who paced the Chiefs with 18 points, 13 aces, nine kills and a dozen digs.

“We had a tough time with (Dubray). She was tipping really well and finding open court in the first set but we adjusted,” Huber said. “This was one of the best matches we’ve played. We just went out to have fun. I think we made an effort to stay positive, support each other and play as a team.

Huber said Grace Crawford had another strong defensive performance and added that the junior has really turned into a solid all-around player.

“Grace has been really incredible,” Huber said. “She’s always strong at the net, but she’s really turned it up on defense. She has over 130 digs this season.”

Crawford highlights in the match included 14 digs, eight kills and six aces.

Huber also said that Dylan Bashaw has been a solid server and hitting, Evelynn Sharp has been tough at the net and Izzy Armstrong has shown big-time improvement.”

Huber said it’s been great having McKillip back on the court for her senior season. She joined the Blue Bombers varsity as a sophomore, and a year ago, McKillip was undergoing cancer treatments and could not participate.

“As the coach on senior night, I say a few words about our seniors, and I was in tears just practicing what I was going to say. Sara, she’s amazing. I’m thankful she is with us, and she’s thankful for any opportunities that she’s had. Just being here, just being able to play, Sara has loved the chance. Just seeing all the obstacles she has faced and overcome, she can really inspire all.”

Saranac def. Lake Placid, 25-16, 25-23, 22-25, 25-18

SCS- Kelly: 4 kills, 4 digs; Charlebois: 2 digs; St. Louis: 10 points, 4 aces, 6 kills, 15 assists, 16 digs; DuBray: 18 points, 13 aces, 9 kills, 1 assist, 12 digs, 1 block; Carter: 13 points, 5 aces, 1 assist, 1 dig; Duquette: 2 points, 5 kills, 1 assist, 6 digs; Beaney: 9 points, 2 aces, 1 kill, 9 assists, 11 digs; Siskavich: 7 points, 2 aces, 3 kills, 1 assist, 11 digs.

LP- Hudson: 7 points, 4 aces, 1 kill, 4 digs, 3 assists; McKillip: 3 points, 9 digs; Crawford: 3 points, 6 aces, 8 kills, 14 digs, 1 assist; Sharp: 8 points, 3 aces, 3 kills, 8 digs, 11 assists; Bousquet: 1 dig; Kellerman: 1 point, 3 digs, 1 assist; Bashaw: 5 points, 1 ace, 8 kills, 7 digs, 7 assists; Armstrong: 1 point, 2 aces, 5 kills, 6 digs; Clark: 1 kill, 2 digs.