Niagara Gazette — AMHERST — Starpoint threw all it could at Westhill in Wednesday night’s Class B girls volleyball sub-regional at Sweet Home High School, but the Warriors proved just a little bit better in a four-set win that ended the Spartans’ season.
Starpoint, the Section VI champion, led 21-18 in the first game, but Westhill quickly showed why it won the Section III (Syracuse) championship, pulling even and eventually ahead in a 27-25 win.
The Spartans responded by winning a tightly-contested second game. Tied at 18, the Spartans rattled off four straight points to take a 22-18 lead and, this time, were able to close out a 26-24 win to pull even at one game apiece.
The match turned in the third set, with nothing going the Spartans’ way. The Warriors used four- and five-point runs to open up a 21-10 lead, eventually winning 25-15. The Spartans hurt themselves with multiple unforced errors, but they also couldn’t catch a break; Westhill scored four points on balls that deflected off the net and controlled serve for the majority of the set.
“(The third) set definitely brought out some frustration in our game,” said fourth-year Starpoint coach Kristie Slack. “They got a few points and then our passing way way off, which hurt our hitting.”
Starpoint started its comeback strong with an ace from Karen Kreppenneck and played the Warriors even for the early part of the fourth set. With the teams tied at 11, Westhill went on a four-point run and looked set to close out the match with a 15-11 lead.
A carry gave a point and possession back to Starpoint and junior Allison Block, who served the Spartans a seven-point run. An ace pulled Starpoint within a point, and after tying the set, an extended rally — set up by a great diving dig by Kreppenneck — ended with the ball dropping on Westhill’s side of the court, giving Starpoint a 16-15 lead.
Starpoint led 18-16 and 22-20, but a serve into the net and a contested ball at the net allowed Westhill to tie at 22. The teams traded the next four points, but a gorgeous drop shot on second hit set up match point for the Warriors. The serve flew over the net and into the middle of the Spartans, and a last-ditch dig attempt found nothing but net. Westhill took the fourth set, 26-24.
Jenna Faulkner had 14 kills for the Spartans, while Katie Jastrzab added eight kills and four blocks. Allison Koithan, the team’s libero, had 24 digs anchoring the defense.
After the match, Slack pulled her team into a corner of the gym and spoke about its season.
“I just expressed how proud I was of the team coming this far, being (the eighth seed in Section VI) and coming off a tough year in our division,” she said.
“We played some really tough teams in our division, which ultimately prepared us for how far we went (in sectionals). We told the girls we could go on a long run in sectionals, and they took to it right away and just turned it on.”
The match marked the end of the careers of Koithan, Brianna Foss, Hattie Lasal, Julie Oswald and Julia Schreier.
“I’ve coached some of these girls for four or five of the six years they’ve been here,” said Slack. “The emotions definitely came out.”