Red Storm hitters squeeze past Bombers

Lake Placid’s Norah Galvin, right, hits the ball over the net during Monday’s match in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lake volleyball team continued its success over Lake Placid with a 3-2 win on their home court Monday. But unlike in recent years, the win was anything but easy for the Red Storm.

Saranac Lake narrowly edged out the Blue Bombers by scores of 14-25, 25-8, 25-21, 22-25 and 15-13, in what proved to be a competitive match. The win was the fourth of the season for Saranac Lake, who improved to 4-1 on the season, while Lake Placid fell to 3-2.

The Blue Bombers, who entered Monday’s match having won three of their last four outings, came right at the Red Storm by taking a 9-3 advantage in the opening set. Lake Placid then stretched their lead to win the first set by 11 points.

The opening set win marked the first time the Blue Bombers had won a set over Saranac Lake since the 2016 season.

Backed by a loud and large student section, the Red Storm took control of the second set from the get-go and never let up. After taking a 19-8 lead, Saranac Lake junior Payton Barry served up the Blue Bombers and her team rallied behind her to end the set on a 6-0 run.

Saranac Lake’s Malea White, right, spikes the ball over the net with Lake Placid’s Nadia Philip (6) and Ellie Evans (7) attempting a block during Monday’s match in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Parker O’Brien)

“You can tell both teams were nervous until they got warmed up,” Saranac Lake head coach Mike Navarra said. “It was an absolute battle to be divided really from the third, fourth and fifth game. It was a matter of nine points and I think it could have gone either way. Lake Placid did a tremendous job serving. They kept us on our toes. I think that they were able to control the tempo the entire match.”

The third set proved to be a much more competitive matchup. While Lake Placid never led in the third, they held their ground and didn’t allow Saranac Lake to take more than a four-point advantage.

“I’m really proud of how we came back after that tough second set,” Blue Bombers head coach Sandy Huber said. “It takes a lot of mental toughness to block out a good loud crowd like that. I think at times we struggled with it, but when we were able to block it out and stay in the zone, we played really well.”

Trailing 2-1 in the match, things didn’t start well for Lake Placid. They allowed the Red Storm to take a 16-10 lead in the fourth set.

Trailing by six, Lake Placid’s Nadia Philip took full control of the set with her serves and helped her team earn nine straight points to take a 19-16 lead. The Blue Bombers then latched on to the lead to force a fifth set.

“Nadia served so well today,” Huber said. “She was mad. She’s a very competitive player. She kind of takes things personally if she gets blocked or drugged, or aced. She just wants revenge and she was a little frustrated for a while when Saranac Lake’s hitters were hitting really well and that’s how she got her revenge.

“Usually, she does it by hitting, but tonight her serves were on fire,” she added. “It was nice to see her be able to turn the whole team’s mood around from her tough serves.”

In the fifth and final set, both teams looked poised to come out on top. The two squads traded points back and forth and met at 13-13, before the Red Storm rallied off two points to win the match.

“I think they played well, but I think they were kind of like rollercoasters they had their good parts and each individual had good aspects to their game, but they got down a little bit,” Navarra said. “They got down because they played a really good team. Lake Placid played really good defense, it was really tough to stop their middle hitter. I think that we adjusted, but I think that we still need a lot of work on consistent serves and serving in when it’s important. So when we have a tie and it’s 13-13 in the fifth, I think that everybody needs to get their serve in.”

Anica Null had an all-around stellar performance for Saranac Lake, finishing with a team-high 10 kills and 10 digs. Null also added 10 points in the win. Senior captain Malea White led the team with 13 points, while adding 5 kills, two digs and an ace.

The Red Storm’s Azra Michael paced the team with 17 assists and Barry led the team serving with 4 aces.

Lake Placid’s Julia Crawford had a big night on both sides of the court. Crawford finished with 11 kills, nine digs, five points, two aces, one block and one assist.

“Julia had a fabulous game. I think she probably took 50 swings,” Huber said. “Norah (Galvin) did a great job setting her and (so did) Sydney Garrison. Both of our setters made some really smart sets. But I’ve got Norah opposite Julia in the lineup so she can set middle a lot to her. I’m imagining her shoulder is a little bit sore. She really kept us in. Our whole team — we missed a lot of serves — but fortunately we barley missed any hits. I was really proud of that.”

Philip served up a team-high 19 points, and also led the way with 10 aces, while earning four kills. Philip also contributed on the defensive side with six digs and two blocks. Syndey Lawrence led the charge defensively with seven digs, and Galvin and Garrison combined 12 assists.

Despite dropping the match, Huber said she hopes her team’s efforts against Saranac Lake give them a boost of confidence and momentum going forward.

“They’re such a bigger school and they’ve always been really strong in volleyball,” Huber said. “The last few years, we would never dream of going five sets with them. This is the year that we’ve had a lot of nice surprises, starting out with three wins and getting that confidence early on was really important to be able to compete with a team like this.”

Both teams were slated to return to the court on Tuesday, with Lake Placid hosting Peru and Saranac Lake taking on Northern Adirondack on the road. Following Tuesday’s matches, the Blue Bombers will travel to take on Northeastern Clinton on Thursday, while the Red Storm take on Peru.

“Peru’s a tough team and we can’t be inconsistent. We need to be dead on,” Navarra said. “Communication is something that we continue to work on. But we’re working on a mindset, that’s no secret. If your mind is clear and your mind is into the game you’re going to perform at a level that is needed to achieve our goal which is to win.”


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