CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. >> In the lone meeting between two of Saratoga County’s top girls volleyball squads in front of a packed house Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake continued to show why it is one of the top teams in the state as Shenendehowa learned a lot about its new look squad Thursday night.
After an early 25-17 win by the Spartans, the Plainsmen rallied for a 25-23 second set win before Burnt Hills rolled 25-14, 25-12 for the 3-1 final.
“We have a very diverse team, many people that can do almost everything, Burnt Hills junior setter Claire Isaksen said. “Ella Katz came in and just had a couple of killer serves and it really pulled us out of a hole and got us back to playing. It was really cool that she got to go in.
“I trust everyone to be able to hit the ball and I am fully confident that everybody will be able to make a good play.”
The Spartans and their coach, Gary Bynon, were fired up after the close second set loss.
“I thought we threw some serving and some stuff in game two, I thought we lost a little bit of that momentum,” Gary Bynon said. “We just came out of that saying to Claire 'Hey we need to establish Sam (Versoki) in the middle, establish Callie (Chevalier) in the middle.
“I thought she started to change her game, she hit the net twice on serves, even though we lost that game, we had a little bit of momentum coming after that.”
While the second set was a disappointment for the Spartans, it was a positive for a Shenendehowa squad that graduated seven key seniors.
“I think that was our one set where things were just clicking for us as a team,” Plainsmen Coach Lori Kessler said. “I felt like our defense was better, we were on offense a lot more, serving was tough that set, that would be the set where I would say we had everything together at once.
“The other sets it was mostly the defense that was lacking and when you don't have that defense you can't get the offense going so we couldn't get things going in those other sets.”
With the third set in hand and still the sting of potentially giving away the second, the Spartans looked to close out the night.
“That last set when we were comfortable like that and we all knew what we had to do,” sophomore outside hitter Carlie Rzeszotarski said. “You try to not look at the scoreboard, but once you see that you're on top and you have that advantage it motivates us and we just don't stop, we don't let the pressure off, we just keep pushing through that.”
Rzeszotarski finished with an eye-popping 21 kills Thursday night and Isaksen dished out 39 assists in the win.
Shenendehowa junior outside hitter Rose Talty finished with 10 kills and junior middle blocker Abby Case added seven kills and two blocks. Senior setter Colleen Murphy served up six points and added 14 points on the night.
In just week two the single meeting between the two squads played dividends.
“We've been running different plays this season and when it works you get chills up and down throughout your whole body and it's like 'Yes, that worked!'” Isaksen said. “We've been working on it so hard and now it's finally all coming together.”
“This was probably my team's first time this season seeing competition that was this high, so it was a big learning experience,” Kessler said. “Some things were exposed from us, it's tough having this match so early in the season. I feel like a lot of my players aren't experienced against that competition just yet.”