FALCONER - According to coach Darin Kennedy, when something is not going right on the volleyball court for his Falconer Lady Golden Falcons, the culprit can only be one of three things.
"Hustle, chatter and attitude," he explained. "If any one of those things are void, then chances are things aren't going so well for us."
So when Falconer went down rather suddenly, 6-0, in the opening minutes of the first set to the visiting Olean Lady Huskies, Kennedy was able to quickly diagnose the problem.
Falconer’s Emily Simmons delivers a jump serve during a Division 1 volleyball match with Olean on Friday evening. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
"Attitude," he said simply. "They were a little bit on their heels and playing too tentatively. So I had to call a timeout, address it and then get them right back out on the floor.
"From there they were able to turn it back around."
Indeed they were, as the Lady Golden Falcons scored eight of the next 10 points to erase the early deficit on its way to capturing the first game, 25-17, the second, 25-19, and the third, 25-9, and leapfrog Olean into first place in Division 1.
Since losing to non-league opponent Portville in the first week of September, Falconer has won six straight matches to improve to 7-1 overall and a perfect 6-0 in league. Olean, meanwhile, which entering Friday's matchup had been undefeated, fell to 8-1 and 4-1.
Crucial to that victory in the opening game was Alyssa Brooks, who finished with 12 kills and a block but racked up three kills and an ace following Kennedy's early timeout to help Falconer rally and take the lead for the first time, 9-8. Later, when the game narrowed to just two points, 15-13, she connected for two more kills while Shannon Gunnell served six straight points to increase the advantage to 21-13.
"Alyssa got my gameball tonight," Kennedy said. "She moved her feet the best she has all season. She's been struggling (lately) and it's been a one-woman show with Gunnell up front, but tonight (Alyssa) made (Olean) contend with two."
With more focus being paid to Brooks, Gunnell was given free reign in the second game as she made a block, a dink, two spikes and then a pair of aces from the service line midway through to give Falconer a 17-11 lead. The senior, who finished with a game-high 22 kills and three aces, tallied three more kills later to push the Golden Falcons to 25 points and the victory.
"Once we got into our system we could out-attack them and we could keep their attack at bay," Kennedy said. "That's our goal at all times, and we try to do it with the serve, defense at the net and then the counterattack."
Struggling to answer the Lady Golden Falcons' power attack at the net, Olean had little energy in the final game as Falconer, behind the strong and accurate serving of libero Makalia Haveron, Danni Hannon and Emily Simmons, built an insurmountable 20-8 advantage. Simmons, who tallied a pair of aces, was particularly strong, Kennedy noted, and it was her jump serve that completely stalled any Lady Huskie offensive attack
"Simmons is our best jump-float server," he said. "Teams have fits handling her serve and she's the one that rallied for us and kept them struggling to get in system."
Along with Brooks and Gunnell, Haveron had 29 digs and Kalynn Swanson 45 assists. For Olean, meanwhile, Bri Spears had three kills, 13 assists, six digs and three blocks while Janelle Shaffer and Kelly Vanbrunt each had four kills.
"Right now (Olean) is in second and we're in first," Kennedy said. "That was a big win."