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Democrat Photo by Rob Potter

FALLSBURG’S CRYSTAL RYDER (21) hits the ball over the block attempt of Millbrook’s Natalie DeCara in Saturday’s final.

Fallsburg Falls in Final

By Rob Potter
NEW PALTZ — November 6, 2001 – The volleyball season came to a disappointing conclusion for the Fallsburg Lady Comets on Saturday evening.
Top-seeded Millbrook swept second-seeded Fallsburg 30-19, 30-19, 30-27 to capture the Section IX Class D volleyball championship at SUNY-New Paltz.
With the win, Millbrook (16-4) moves on to face the Section I Class D champion this weekend in the state quarterfinals.
But for the Fallsburg coaches, players and fans, good memories of the 2001 season should outnumber the bad ones.
In their first trip to the sectionals since 1994, the Lady Comets made it to the final match. And their 13-7 won-loss record was the best in recent memory.
“This team won more matches this season than the last eight years combined,” Fallsburg coach Dan Gallo said. “This is a special group of girls.”
In the title match, though, the Lady Comets had no answer for Millbrook middle hitter Crystal Duncan. Standing well over six-feet tall, Duncan controlled play at the net. She had several blocks and kills as Millbrook won the first two games handily.
“Their big middle did it for them,” said Fallsburg senior middle blocker/outside hitter Amy Hobby, refering to Duncan. “We really wanted to win it. We worked hard and played our hearts out.”
In the third set, however, Fallsburg began to mount a comeback. The Lady Comets took a quick 5-0 lead with Hobby serving and after Millbrook tied the game at 13, took a six-point lead at 21-15.
Millbrook rallied again to tie the score at 27-27. Two kills by Duncan put the Lady Blazers a point away from the title and an ace by Dian Harvey sealed the win.
When asked about the key to the win, Millbrook coach Jennifer Fisher needed to mention only two words: Crystal Duncan.
“She had an outstanding match,” Fisher said. “When she’s on her game, she’ll take over. And when we play our game, we’re tough to beat.”
Hobby paced the Fallsburg offense with 14 points, 10 kills and eight digs. Senior outside hitter/outside setter Crystal Ryder had eight points, seven assists and three kills and senior outside hitter/defensive specialist Shannon Horace had 12 digs.
Junior middle blocker/outside hitter Jenna Hartman added nine digs and eight kills for the Lady Comets.
For the Fallsburg seniors – Cindy Espinoza, Alaina Carley, Jocelyn Hernandez, Christine Holland, Hobby, Horace, Maria Kojankova and Ryder – the 2001 season will be especially memorable.
“There were seasons where we won only four matches, three matches and no matches,” Hobby said. “I’m very happy we were able to get to the championship match. This year has been very fun.”
Gallo echoed those sentiments.
“We came a long way this year and I expect the team to be back here next year,” he said. “Overall, there is a good feeling about this season. These girls played their hearts out all year and they can hold their heads up high.”

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