By Mike Meiler firstname.lastname@example.org
Niagara Gazette — A stunning sectional playoff run continues today for the Starpoint girls volleyball team when the eighth-seeded Spartans take on the No. 2 Albion Purple Eagles at 8 p.m. in the Section VI Class B championship, hosted by Sweet Home High School.
After going just 5-7 in division matches during the regular season, the Spartans were perfect in back-to-back three-set wins over No. 9 East Aurora and top-ranked Springfield in the pre-quarter and quarterfinal rounds. They dropped their first set of the postseason against No. 4 Depew in the semis, but still managed to cruise in a four-set win.
Starpoint is an in-between school in terms of size when it comes to girls volleyball. While it’s designated a ‘B’ school for sectional purposes, it shares Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division II with mostly ‘A’ schools during the regular season. The Spartans play Sweet Home and Williamsville North — which will battle in today’s Class A championship — each twice as part of their division schedule.
Fourth-year coach Kristie Slack said the regular season competition helps prepare her girls for the postseason.
“It’s what we talk about every single day before a match, how teams we’re against are actually in (ECIC) Division III,” she said. “They don’t see the same competition we do during the year.”
Leading the way so far have been seniors Hattie Lasal (setter), Allison Koithan (libero) and Julia Schreier (outside hitter), as well as junior Jenna Faulkner (outside hitter).
After a strong 2012 regular season, the Spartans fell in the first round of sectionals to division rival West Seneca East in a five-set marathon. Only Koithan and Faulkner saw playing time on that team.
“It’s been a new experience for the whole team,” she said. “I’ve got seven juniors who didn’t play at all last year.”
Facing the Purple Eagles in a meaningful match will also be new for the Spartans. The two teams competed in the Starpoint Varsity Tournament earlier this season, but never paired up. Both also took place in a multi-team scrimmage just a few weeks before sectionals.
“They’re a great defensive team,” said Slack. “It’s very hard to put a ball away against them because they’re very quick and they stay in position.”
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