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Boys Volleyball: Shenendehowa beats Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake to advance to Section II championship

posted Nov 1, 2012, 6:50 AM by John Coletta

The Saratogian (, Serving the Saratoga Springs, N.Y. region

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


SCOTIA — It took just three sets for the Shenendehowa boys varsity volleyball team to advance to its second consecutive Section II final Wednesday night, dismissing Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 25-15, 25-21 and 25-22.

“This has been one of the goals of the players, to get back to that sectional game,” Shenendehowa coach John Coletta said. “We talked about it at the beginning of the season, whether it is Bethlehem or Guilderland in that final game, we’re looking forward to be in that position and execute this time around.”

The Plainsmen were led by their front line of senior outside hitter Austin Jensen with nine kills, senior opposite hitter Ryan McSwiggin with six kills and three blocks and senior outside/middle hitter Josh Olsen with six kills.

“Our secret is that we’ve been running a quicker offense and the quicker the set the harder it is for them to get their block over there and there was not block,” Josh Olsen said. “Almost always it was a kill.”

The Spartans fell behind quickly in the first game, 17-8, on a four-point service streak by libero Jerome Pabulayan and built it up, keeping the Spartans at bay for the first game win.

Burnt Hills regrouped in the second game, holding a 20-14 lead before Shenendehowa called its second time out. The Plainsmen returned for a three-point run and then a devastating eight-point run on the serves of junior outside hitter Scott Grable for the 25-21 victory.

Burnt Hills held a slight edge to start the third game, but unforced errors again haunted the Spartans, allowing the Plainsmen to take control late for the 25-22 victory and advance to the Section II final.

“We had our opportunities and we gave away some easy points,” Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake coach Paul Sander said. “We were committing unforced errors and they were getting points they didn’t even have to earn.”

Sander utilized both of his timeouts in each of the three games Wednesday night, pleading with his players.

“I told them they have to be more aggressive," Sander said. “We had several players get out of position and had some mental lapses that cost us.”

Wednesday was the rubber match between the two squads. Coletta explained that the initial loss fell on his Shenendehowa players more than the Spartan offense.

“It was key for us to execute, especially when the tide seemed to turn in their favor in the second game especially and they got up on us,” Coletta said. “You know that Burnt Hills is going to find a way to get the ball over the net and you have to be able to take advantage of the opportunities they presented to us.”

When Burnt Hills was able to get the ball over the net, the Plainsmen defense was ready to respond.

“All the back row players did a great job with serve-receive, getting every ball up and our hitters were just finding the seams,” senior setter T.J. Ostrowski said. “We were just trying to run our offense as fast as we can, not let them set up in their defense and I think that caused a lot of errors. As a team we worked off those errors and helped us win.”

Ostrowski finished with 30 assists on the night and was helped out by the efficiency of his front line hitters, including team leader Jensen.

“If they have a good, clean consistent game, we should be good,” Coletta said. “They have the ability to share the ball, but when Austin (Jensen) is on, he’s looking great.

“If he has the opportunity to pass the ball around to another guy, I think that helps us and helps him in return by sharing the ball and being consistent also,” he said.

Shenendehowa will face the winner of Bethlehem/Guilderland at noon Saturday at Scotia-Glenville High School.

“It’s always good to be going to the final and to be riding high,” Ostrowski said. “A three-set win against a very good team gives us a lot of confidence.”


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