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Chautauqua Lake beats Randolph for Class D title

Chautauqua Lake beats Randolph for Class D title

BROCTON — Jenna Waters stepped to the service line with her Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds leading 18-17 in the first set of Friday’s Section VI Class D championship match against Randolph

The junior left-hander served seven straight points, including an ace, to help the Thunderbirds put away the set.

Chautauqua Lake then scored eight of the first nine points in the second set and by that point was well on its way to a 25-17, 25-12, 16-25, 25-13 victory over the Cardinals for the Thunderbirds’ first trip to the Far West Regionals in program history.

“These kids are each other’s biggest fans. That doesn’t always happen with 16- or 17-year-old girls,” Chautauqua Lake head coach Joanne Meadows said. “They support each other. They love the game.”

Next Saturday, Chautauqua Lake will take on Section V champion LeRoy at 2:30 p.m. The Oatkan Knights beat Attica 3-1 on Friday evening.

OBSERVER Photo by Scott Reagle The Thunderbirds’ Jenna Harle passes the ball.

The Thunderbirds led by as many as four on a Lily Woodis block early in the first set, but Randolph rallied and eventually took a 14-13 lead. The score remained within a point until Waters’ first serve made it 19-17 in favor of Chautauqua Lake. After a Randolph timeout, the Cardinals hit two spikes into the net and followed that with a receiving error. Waters then converted a back-row kill and followed it up with an ace before Brynn Engdahl ended the set with a kill.

“Any time she gets back there to serve is a little bit of a relief for me,” Meadows said of Waters. ” … She doesn’t miss often. Her ace-to-miss percentage is fantastic.”

The Thunderbirds immediately took control of the second set. Armed with a 3-1 lead, Woodis stepped to the service line and ran off five straight points for an 8-1 lead. Randolph never recovered, falling behind by as man as 13 at 19-6. Chautauqua Lake eventually took back service at 23-12 and Jenna Harle served out the set, capped by an Ava Olson kill.

“They are a great defensive team,” Randolph head coach Bayley Johnson said. ” … I knew it was going to be hard offensively to score.”

Down 2-0, the Cardinals did not quit. The teams remained within two points of each other until Randolph’s Eve Adams strung together a pair of aces to give her team a 14-10 lead in the third set.

OBSERVER Photo by Scott Reagle Chautauqua Lake’s Ava Olson dives for a ball while teammate Jenna Waters looks on during Friday’s Section VI Class D final against Randolph at Brocton High School.

Later, Mckenzie Crosson put together a four-point service run to stretch a three-point lead into a seven-point lead. With the Cardinals leading 24-16, the Thunderbirds hit a spike out of bounds to allow Randolph back into the match.

“I’m so proud of my team,” Johnson said. “I have a very young team. To lose two sets, come out and win that one and keep motivating themselves, I’m just so proud of them.”

But Chautauqua Lake has been unfazed by set losses all season, and the Thunderbirds bounced right back Friday. With the Cardinals leading 6-5, a bad pass allowed Chautauqua Lake to take over service. The Thunderbirds ran off nine straight points and twice during the string Olson set the ball over the net on Chautauqua Lake’s second hit, catching Randolph off guard for points.

“She reads the defense better than probably anybody I’ve ever had. She sees openings on the floor,” Meadows said of Olson. “Ava has that mindset all the time, that she knows sometimes it’s not power that gets a point. … She’s just a smart player. She puts more time into it than practically anybody.”

Leading 21-13, the Thunderbirds took over service on Hannah Group’s last of eight kills on the night. Each time the junior finished a point, it seemed to turn the momentum of the set.

“Tonight it was Hannah and she did a great job. Hannah is a kid that flies under people’s radar and they don’t think about her right away when they think about who they have to block on defense,” Meadows said of Group. “She has a power tip and when she gets on top of that ball and pushes it down it’s hard to beat.”

Finally, Harle served out another set with four straight service points, the final one ending as the Cardinals’ final pass of the season ended up in the net.

“Chautauqua Lake puts a nice tip ball over and it gets us out of system,” Johnson said. “We worked on that in practice all week, but it was a hard ball to play.”

Now, Chautauqua Lake is one best-of-five match away from advancing to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final Four set for Nov. 20-21 at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls. It’s a spot familiar to Meadows, who won the last three of Mayville’s five straight championships in the early 1990s.

“I’d like to get over that third-game struggle that we’ve had the last two matches. They don’t quit. Even with losing that third game, they battle back every time,” Meadows said. “I don’t think they ever doubt themselves. They just feel like they are in control.”

NOTES: Olson had eight kills, an ace, 11 digs and 14 assists; Waters had eight kills, five aces and 22 digs; Mallory Morrison had two kills, an ace, seven digs and 17 assists; Woodis had six kills, two aces and five digs; Engdahl had two kills and 15 digs; and Jessica Wiemer had four kills for Chautauqua Lake. … Adams had 16 kills, three aces and 11 digs; Payton Morrison had four blocks, two kills and an ace; Rian Finch had six kills and five digs; and Avery Morrison had 21 digs for Randolph.

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