MAYVILLE - At least a share of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 3 volleyball title already guaranteed, Chautauqua Lake coach Joanne Meadows had to get a little creative to keep her squad ready and motivated in order to finish the remaining slate of regular season games in winning fashion.
"Yesterday at practice we divided up our team into two different teams, and they played each other," she explained. "The winner got to decide if they wanted (to play) the second game (in Tuesday's match with Maple Grove) or the third game and then it was a competition to see who would give up fewer points in each of those games."
For the record, it was the team that chose game three - made up of Hannah Rauh, Jordan Mulholland, Ashton Albanesius, Heather Sampson, Sarah Sowinski and Katie Meadows - that won the friendly intra-squad challenge by surrendering just nine points, but it was the Lady Thunderbirds as a whole that bested visiting Maple Grove, 25-17, 25-16 and 25-9, in the match that really mattered.
Above, Chautauqua Lake’s Jenna Einink prepares to return a serve during a Division 3 volleyball match against Maple Grove on Tuesday. Below, Nickara Liddell executes a bump pass. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Rob Tucker
The victory, the 10th on the season in as many chances and the ninth in a row in league play, locked up an outright league title for the Lady Thunderbirds, and should they defeat Westfield (1-9, 0-7) next week, they will finish the season with a perfect record.
Jenna Einink scored a team-high, and game-high, 12 kills to go along with five digs and an ace; Albanesius had six kills and an ace; Rauh finished with three kills, five digs and a pair of aces; and Meadows tallied seven assists, two kills, three aces and six digs.
Meadows sent her regular starting six out onto the court in game one, and that group did what it has done all year - win. At the service line was Rauh who, with some help from Einink, helped the hosts build a quick 9-2 lead. Einink delivered a dink and a pair of kills during the early, momentum-grabbing run, and then followed Rauh with four more service points, including one ace, to push the advantage to seven, 10-3. That lead continued to expand until it was 22-12 before Sydney Milliman recorded back-to-back aces to clinch the game.
The regular group's job done, Meadows, with an eye towards the playoffs ahead, began mixing and matching the six on the floor.
"We did a couple of things that we wouldn't normally do to get them to challenge themselves a little more and play through some different situations," she explained. "One thing today was we tried to get everybody in the game to build a little more chemistry out there."
The group that took the court in game two (consisting of Milliman, Courtney Hewes, Einink, Ashley Paulus, Tara Hunt and Callie Girdlestone) was substitute heavy. Nevertheless, they still managed to break an 8-8 tie by scoring six of the next nine points. Then Paulus and Girdlestone recorded nine combined points to clinch the win.
"Those are my subs," Meadows said, "and, you know, they're great kids and they work so hard. It's hard sometimes because you can't get them in to play all the time - I have a really good starting six - but they're here all the time and they work hard so today I wanted to make sure that they got in.
"And they did great. I thought they did a really nice job."
With a commanding two-game lead, Chautauqua Lake wasted little time capturing the match as they raced out to a 13-4 advantage and then later scored six in a row to reach the winning margin.
"This win tonight locked up the division title for us," Meadows said with a smile. "That's great."
Maple Grove (3-10, 3-5) was led by Nickara Liddell and Taylor Satalino, who each had 14 digs and two kills, and Sierra Speranza, who had nine digs, two aces and one assist.