SHERMAN - Joanne Meadows began her career at Sweet Home High School in Amherst. Not surprisingly, it was there that the current Chautauqua Lake head coach picked up what can best be described as the guiding principle behind her volleyball coaching philosophy.
"When I first started," she recalled, "a lady I coached with at Sweet Home told me, 'Drill the basics until they are basic.'
"So we do a lot of basic stuff in practice, like serving and serve-receive. And that's why (errors on the basic plays during matches) are a big pet peeve of mine. I hate when you're fighting in a game and then miss a serve. I think my kids know (how much I hate it) because they try not to miss too many."
Jenna Einink of Chautauqua Lake sets the ball during Thursday’s West Division 2 girls volleyball match with Sherman. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Rob Tucker
Her squad's attention to, and desire for, error-free play was certainly evident on Thursday, when the Chautauqua Lake Lady Thunderbirds swept Sherman, 25-9, 26-24, 25-11, in West Division 2 action.
Together the group compiled 15 aces, countless more service winners and committed a mere eight unforced service errors in more than 80 attempts.
"Chautauqua Lake is very good," Sherman coach Pat Burns said after his Lady Wildcats fell to 4-3 overall and 3-3 in league. "We knew we were going to have a tough time. They had good serves while our serve-receive was weak, and they took advantage of it."
Chautauqua Lake, which won its first 17 games in a row last season on the way to a Section 6 Class D-1 crown, is on a similar path this year - with their latest victory, the Lady Thunderbirds are a perfect 8-0 overall and 6-0 in league.
Jenna Einink led the way for the victors with 16 kills, five aces, two assists and two blocks; Katie Meadows chipped in with three aces and 13 assists; and Tara Hunt contributed 10 assists, three digs and two kills.
While the team-wide effort at the service line was impressive enough, it was Kylee Braymiller that stood out most.
The junior ripped off nine straight points in the opening-game victory, tallied five straight during a crucial stretch of the hard-fought second - helping the Lady Thunderbirds overcome a four-point deficit - and then served the first eight points to open the third to give her squad a comfortable lead it would never relinquish.
"I think that Kylee's got a really great serve," Meadows said, "and when it's on it's tough to beat. There's a lot of kids (that contributed in that area) - Jenna Einink had several aces, too - and we work a lot on that."
After cruising to the game-one victory, Meadows switched things up in the second by playing a few fresh faces and employing a slightly altered style of play.
Sherman seized on the opportunity, too, and had the momentum with a 16-12 advantage before Burns called a timeout to talk to his players.
"That really did help us," Meadows said of the stoppage in play. "He must've seen something he wanted to tell his kids. But a timeout is a timeout and we took advantage of it."
Chautauqua Lake, with the help of a number of well-time (and well-placed) tips from Einink, scored the next five points out of the timeout to regain the momentum and clinch the slim, 28-26 victory.
"It got a little shaky," Meadows said of the second set. "I was trying to mix some stuff up a little and sometimes it doesn't work as well as you wish it did. But I think it's still nice to put them in a position every once and a while where they really have to fight back.
"And thankfully, they did."
Emboldened by their now two-game advantage, the Lady Thunderbirds tallied 14 of the first 17 points on the way to the comfortable third set, and match, win.
NOTES: Sherman was led by Katrina Christmas, who had eight points, two kills and two blocks. Roxanne Toy had three kills and Bridget Yaw finished with two kills and six points.