Section V girls volleyball champs enter regionals: Here are the keys to their success
After a one-year hiatus, the Section V girls volleyball champions will again advance into the Far West Regionals.
Winners of the Section V-Section VI contests will clinch a spot into the state tournament in Glens Falls.
Two-time champions Victor (Class AA) and Churchville-Chili (A) will host Frontier and Niagara-Wheatfield, respectively, on Friday at Mercy.
Saturday's matches at LeRoy will include the small schools: Wayne vs. Marcellus (Section III) in Class B, LeRoy vs. Portville (Section VI) in Class C, and Class D's Pavilion-Fillmore winner will play Chautauqua Lake (Section VI).
Here is how VIctor got here:
Believe in each other
Victor's girls volleyball team read quotes to each other in the practices leading up to the Section V final.
Each quote was different, but they all talked about believing in their teammates.
Coach Matt Glover reminded his Blue Devils of their quotes during the final points of their five-set victory over Penfield in the Class AA final.
"The common theme from each quote was believe in each other. That's what we discussed as the match transpired," Glover said.
Buying into thier roles
Victor continues to get better as the season progresses.
Senior Emma Werkmeister credits that to the high-intensity practices and everyone buying into their roles, from key players like Helen Qian and Alex McKenzie, down to the role players.
"There's a lot of energy during practices now than during the regular season. We've all bought in. That's hard to find in a team because there's always that one person ... but we don't have that. Being a part of this is so special."
Glover said area volleyball aficionados saw his Section V final against Penfield as the de facto Class AA state championship match.
The Blue Devils and Patriots played each other in last season's final too.
Victor and Penfield played each other six times this fall. The Blue Devils won the season series 5-1 — four meetings came in tournaments — but by a slim 16-point margin. Victor outscored the Patriots 457-441 and only won 12 of the 21 sets the Monroe County Division I co-champions played each other in.
A 'wrinkle' in time
Hoping for an edge, Glover threw a "wrinkle" at Penfield.
Keira Donnelly didn't play one minute of the Section V Class AA final until the intense fifth set. She played a major role in Victor's comeback when she entered the match.
Donnelly was serving when Victor trailed 17-21. Her serves were clutch, digging the Blue Devils out of the deficit to tie the match at 21.
Victor then faced a 21-24 deficit before Alex McKenzie's serves brought the Blue Devils back and Lauren Willow's ace clinched the title with a 26-24 fifth-set triumph.
Here is how Churchville-Chili got here:
'Work in progress'
Hard work paid off when Churchville-Chili made an unexpected championship run in the spring.
Seniors Alyssa Rich, Grace Alessi, Megan Bromage, Leah Leupold, Brooke McNamara and Camille Fonseca took it upon themselves to build that trust with the newer players like Audrey Vogt, a freshman who responded well to playing roles she's not accustom to.
"It's always been a work in progress," coach Shelby Gear said. "After the ending we had last year, we were like 'Wow, we did it!. Could we possibly do it again?' As the season went on, and our new players continued to build relationships and trust with our experienced players ... yeah, we knew we could do it again."
Confidence and consistency
Consistency and confidence will be key if Churchville-Chili wants to advance past undefeated Niagara-Wheatfield.
Gear expects her Saints to enter the Far West Regionals full of confidence. If anyone lets a bad play get the best of them, it could be to Churchville's detriment.
The Saints will also need to show more consistency with their serving and serve receiving.
"I'd love for all of that to come together for this match on Friday," Gear said. "It's a lot of fun to coach kids who are willing to work this hard."
Here is how LeRoy and Wayne got here:
LeRoy (22-1) and Wayne (19-1) both lost in the Section V finals in May before avenging those setbacks last week.
Hailey Johnson, Riley Wood and Quinn Doty, who were each selected to play in the Livingston County all-star game, leads an Oatkan Knights team that will play a Portville program seeking its fourth straight state finals berth. The Panthers won state championships in 2018 and 2019.
Wayne is led by captains Sidnee Burlee, Aaliyah Zenelovic, Zoe Ruano and Emma Schumaker.
Email Marquel Slaughter at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow his Twitter @MarquelSports.
This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Section V girls volleyball champs enter regionals: Keys to success