ONEIDA – In their first meeting this season, Whitesboro’s girls volleyball team was able to come back after losing the opening two sets for a 3-2 victory over rival Oneida.
Thursday night in Oneida, the Warriors lost the first set, but once again responded, taking the next three for a 3-1 victory to seize control of the Tri Valley League. The Warriors (8-0, 9-0) were led by strong performances by juniors Paige Porta (32 digs) and Meghan Herrmann (36 assists), as well as from seniors Christina Borza (13 kills, 18 digs), Alexiz Webster (11 digs and seven kills) and Claire Parisi (7 kills and four blocks).
It was also the first time in several years the Warriors were able to come away with a victory on Oneida’s home court. In fact nobody on Whitesboro’s roster, including head coach Kelly Entwistle, who is in her fourth season, have won at Oneida (6-2, 6-2).
“I have never beaten them on this court,” Entwistle said. “It’s extremely special with this group of girls. They work hard day in and day out. They’re like sponges taking everything in and using it.”
For Borza, a senior in her third season, the win was extra special.
“It’s completely satisfying,” said Borza, an outside hitter. “It gives us hope we can win the rest of our matches and go far this season.”
After dropping the first set, the Warriors won 25-17, 25-21 and 25-17 to grab a two-game lead in the TVL. Co-captains, Herrmann and Borza were proud of how the team responded to losing the first set of the match.
“It feels good, and it’s a big win,” Herrmann said. “I think we start off slow but really wanted to win and kept pushing back and won as a team.”
“We stayed completely positive and just worked very hard as a team,” Borza added. “When we lose a set, we just learn from it and play better.”
Oneida (6-2, 6-2) was led by senior hitter Sarah Pickard, who put away 18 kills, and had 24 digs and three aces. Jenna Relyea also played a solid match in tallying 25 assists and 25 digs. The Indians had chances to even the season series with the Warriors, but allowed too many unanswered points throughout the contest.
“Our coverage was good tonight,” Pickard said. “But our communication was up and down and that’s what hurt us. When we talked we were good and when we didn’t we gave them a lot of free balls. Our offense wasn’t as good as usual, but it’s something we can work on and correct.”
Whitesboro jumped out to an early lead in the first set and held leads of 12-5 and 14-8. However, Oneida went on a 12-2 run to grab a 20-16 advantage and Pickard’s ace closed out the first set for the home team.
The Warriors controlled much of the second set, answering every run the Indians made. A kill by Webster knotted the match at 1-1.
In the critical third set, Oneida seemed primed to take control, opening up an early 4-0 lead, but after a Borza dump shot, Herrmann won four straight service points to give the Warriors a 5-4 lead. Oneida battled back to grab a 12-10 advantage. The set remained tight the rest of the way as the teams traded points. With the Warriors leading 19-17, Webster had a kill, then an ace to extend their lead to four. The teams then alternated points, and a Claire Parisi kill at 24-21 gave the Warriors a 2-1 lead in sets.
Whitesboro kept the momentum early in the fourth set, winning the first six points. Pickard wouldn’t let the set get away from the Indians as she recorded three kills and two aces to help give Oneida an 11-9 lead. The Warriors stepped up their play, and behind six straight points on Webster’s serve, took a 21-13 lead. The Indians won three of the next four points and seemed primed to make one last run. However, the Warriors wouldn’t allow any miracle comebacks, and deflated Oneida’s hopes with a beautiful scramble play by Porta, who extended the point with a running clear from behind her end line that eventually ended with a Borza kill. Three points later the Warriors wrapped up the victory.
“I think we had jitters in first set and lack of offense,” Entwistle said. “We played tough defense all night and (Oneida) is a great defensive team that doesn’t let many balls hit the floor, so you have to earn points.”
Oneida coach Cynthia Bobo said she’s still trying to find the right combination that can bring out the best in her team.
“I have a very talented group and will continue to try to put it all together,” Bobo said. “Sectionals are our goal. These kids work hard and show what they can do every day in practice. I want everyone else to see what I see in practice. That’s what is frustrating.”
Rachel Head (four kills), Julia Bora (three digs), Jessica Blaszak (six kills) and Natallia Dzeravenets (nine digs) also made key contributions for the Warriors. With the depth and chemistry her team possesses, Entwistle knows there’s a real opportunity for her team to earn the first sectional title since her first season in 2013.
“We’ll first take one game at a time then focus on winning league first … then sectionals,” Entwistle said. “Hopefully we can at least make it to semis and earn a spot in the finals match. We’ll set our goals high.”
Whitesboro 3, Oneida 1
Set Scores: 19-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-17.
Whitesboro (8-0, 9-0): Paige Porta 32 digs, 3 aces; Meghan Herrmann 36 assists, 5 digs; Christina Borza 13 kills, 18 digs; Alexiz Webster 11 digs, 7 kills; Claire Parisi 7 kills, 4 blocks; Rachel Head 4 kills; Julia Bora 4 service points, 3 digs; Jessica Blaszak 6 kills; Natallia Dzeravenets 9 digs.
Oneida (6-2, 6-2): Sarah Pickard 18 kills, 24 digs, 3 aces; Jenna Relyea 25 assists, 25 digs; Liz Rice 3 kills, 10 digs, 1 block; Matteson Mair 7 kills, 4 blocks; Taylor Friscano 11 digs; Shae D’Arcangelis 4 service points, 13 digs; Elizabeth LaSalle 9 digs.