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PPR SPORTS AuSable Volley (for web) 1110
AuSable Valley's Noelle Miller hits the ball as Voorheesville's Caroline Bablin looks for the block during Saturday's state Class C regional championship match at Gloversville High School. (Photo/Paul Wager)

Blackbirds end AuSable Valley's season in regional finals

By: PAUL WAGER, Special to the Press-Republican

GLOVERSVILLE — AuSable Valley is experiencing some déjà vu.

After winning a fourth straight Section VII Class C championship, the AuSable Valley volleyball team saw its season end at the hands of Voorheesville in the regional championship Saturday at Gloversville High School.

The Section II champion Blackbirds posted a 3-0 win over the Patriots by scores of 25-20, 25-16 and 25-8 in the state Class C regional finals at Gloversville High School.

“We respect Voorheesville. They’re a good team and we’ve seen them the last four years,” AuSable Valley coach Sandra Hoey said.

Each of those four matchups has ended with the Blackbirds posting a 3-0 sweep of the Patriots.

Voorheesville, which reached the state Class C championship match last season, came into the match minus one of its outside hitters, Nicole Brower.

“We had a huge loss this week when Nicole went down with appendicitis,” Blackbirds coach Ashley Swint said. “We had a young team out there, but everybody really stepped it up.”

Senior Caroline Bablin powered the Blackbirds’ attack, finishing with 18 kills and 10 digs, while senior setter Libby Bjork posted 26 assists, nine digs and four aces.

“Libby and Caroline have played together for a long time,” Hoey said. “They are a tough pairing.”

Lauren Mackey added nine digs and four kills for Voorheesville, and Tori Hargrave finished with 17 digs and seven kills.

Noelle Miller paced AuSable Valley with nine kills, five digs, five service points and four aces, while Miranda Sheffer finished with seven points, three digs and two kills. Lindsay Brown posted five points, four digs, two aces and two kills for the Patriots, Alexandrea Lincolin had five digs, and Miranda O’Neill added nine assists, three digs and two kills.

Voorheesville won the Section II title last Saturday with a 3-1 win over Broadalbin-Perth on Nov. 1 at Stillwater High School by scores of 25-17, 25-12, 22-25 and 25-21. AuSable Valley won the Section VII title last Saturday with a 3-0 win over Plattsburgh by scores 25-11, 25-8 and 25-16 before posting a 3-0 win over Section X champion Potsdam on Wednesday in the regional semifinals by scores of 25-13, 25-19 and 25-14.

The Blackbirds got out of the gates quickly, opening up a 6-2 lead in the first game before the Patriots rallied to tie the match at 6-6.

Voorheesville used a four-point service run from Kimmy McQuade to gain some breathing room, eventally pushing the lead to 17-9 and forcing a timeout from Hoey.

AuSable Valley closed to within four points at 21-17 before the Blackbirds closed out the first set with a 25-20 win.

The Patriots surged to a 5-1 lead early in the second set on a kill, two service points and an ace by Brown.

Voorheesville answered with four straight service points from Eileen Thompson, a run punctuated with a thunderous kill from Bablin.

The Blackbirds steadily increased their lead, ending the set with a kill by Bablin to take a 2-0 lead after winning the set 25-16.

Voorheesville quickly put the final set out of reach, opening with a nine-point service run from Bjork, which gave the Blackbirds a 10-0 lead.

The Patriots got no closer than eight points the rest of the way, as Voorheesville cruised to a 25-8 win in the final set, which also included a six-point service run from Erin Gannon.

“Our younger players were out there surrounded by our senior leadership,” Swint said. “It really helped that we had a mix of experienced and younger players.”

That mix helped Voorheesville, which has won four straight section II titles, to another trip to the state semifinals.

“This is one more step toward our goal,” Swint said. “Getting back to the state championship match has been our goal all season long. We knew that it was going to be difficult this season, but we’ve taken it day-by-day and game-by-game.”

Voorheesville (20-0) will open pool play in the state semifinals at the Glens Falls Civic Center next Saturday at 8:30 am. against Millbrook.

AuSable Valley finished the season with an 18-2 overall record.

“The first time we played them four years ago, I think we finished with 19 points,” Hoey said. “We’re building our program up, but we still need more experience. Gradual steps are being built, but it’s going to take some time.”

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