Rob Potter | Democrat
Sullivan West teammates Olivia Grady, center, and Rebecca Corcillo, right, put their hands up in order to block the spike attempt of James I. O’Neill’s Dani Riley, left, during Wednesday night’s Section IX Class C volleyball quarterfinal match in Fort Montgomery.
Undefeated O’Neill overwhelms SW in Class C volleyball quarterfinal
By Rob Potter
FORT MONTGOMERY Sullivan West girls’ volleyball coach Cliff Kelly could only shake his head while watching a point early in the first game of Wednesday night’s Section IX Class C volleyball quarterfinal match against undefeated James I. O’Neill.
“This is not going to be easy,” Kelly acknowledged at that juncture. “We are going to have to fight for every point.”
While the seventh-seeded Lady Bulldogs did their best to battle for every point, they could not slow down the second-seeded Lady Raiders.
O’Neill (21-0) won the match in three straight games: 25-16, 25-12, 25-8. With the victory, the Lady Raiders will now host Rhinebeck in a Class C semifinal match at 6 p.m. tonight.
SW ended its season with a record of 10-9.
“We will be losing two great seniors in Rebecca [Corcillo] and Brittney [Milk], but we have a strong core of players returning for next season,” Kelly said. “We lost several seniors from last year’s team, but we still had a very good season.”
O’Neill got off to a quick start in Game 1 against the Lady Bulldogs. Consecutive kills by Sarah Lyyski gave the Lady Raiders a 7-1 lead.
Later in the game, Dani Riley served a pair of aces as the Lady Raiders scored six straight points to extend their advantage to 19-9. Mary Matautia served an ace to seal the game, 25-16.
SW took a 6-1 lead during the early moments of Game 2 as Melissa McCormack served two aces.
But O’Neill quickly tied the score at 6-6 thanks to two aces by Bridget Plumley and a kill by Riley.
An ace by Emily Czajkowski and a kill by Riley enabled the Lady Raiders to push their lead to 15-7.
O’Neill then closed out the game with a 10-5 scoring run, which included a pair of aces by Alexa Lilos.
Hitting errors by the Lady Raiders and an ace by McCormack gave SW a 3-1 lead in the opening moments of Game 3. But O’Neill soon took the lead. An ace by Matautia gave the team a 9-7 advantage.
Matautia was the key player in the game. When she first took the ball to serve, the score was knotted at 7-7. With Matautia serving, the Lady Raiders scored 16 consecutive points to take a commanding 23-7 lead. Matautia had five aces during that scoring run.
Appropriately enough, Riley ended the game and match with a kill.
“We played pretty well in two games,” Kelly said. “But in the third game, I don’t think we played as well. Maybe we got a little tired in that game.
“O’Neill played very well in that third game,” he continued. “They are very talented, they are very athletic and they are well-coached.”
McCormack led the Lady Bulldogs with nine service points, three digs, two blocks and one kill. Rebecca Corcillo had five digs, four blocks, two kills and two points. Brittney Milk recorded five digs, two blocks and two points. Karalii Rabii finished the match with five points, three digs, two blocks and two kills.
O’Neill Co-Coaches Cathryn Biordi and Katelyn Kort were pleased with how their players performed.
“We definitely made some good digs and popped the ball up so we could hit it over the net,” Biordi said.
“We were pretty consistent tonight,” Kort added. “We were able to play well in different areas of the game. We had the digs to set up the passes to set up the hits over the net.”
Both Biordi and Kort felt that playing the Lady Bulldogs only nine days after facing them in a regular season match was beneficial.
“We were familiar with them,” Kort said. “We knew what their girls liked to do.”
The two coaches liked how the Lady Raiders closed out the match with a strong third game.
“We played great in that last game,” Biordi commented. “We served the ball very well.”
Matautia led the Lady Raiders with 15 digs, 14 aces, 11 kills and two blocks. Plumley had 11 assists, four aces, three digs and two kills. Riley registered nine digs, nine kills, four aces and four blocks.