Albion volleyball falls to Starpoint in Class B final
By Kevin Prise The Journal-Register
AMHERST — The first set of the night set the tone.
In the Class B volleyball championship game on Monday evening, No. 8 Starpoint jumped out to a 14-2 lead over No. 2 Albion. Despite being seeded lower, the Lady Spartans looked the part of a winner from the get-go, controlling the ball and not allowing coach Ann Capacci’s Albion squad any easy points.
The end result was a straight-set victory for Starpoint in the Class B girls volleyball championship game at Sweet Home HS on Monday. Starpoint advances to sub-regional play this evening, while Albion’s season concludes.
“We came out hesitant and kind of intimidated,” Capacci remarked after the match. “Starpoint initiated the attack. We’re a young team, and some of the early jitters might have got the best of us.”
Capacci said she doesn’t like to take much stock in the rankings, and Starpoint proved it by cruising to a 25-15 victory in the first set, quickly putting the Lady Purple Eagles on their heels. The pro-Starpoint crowd had plenty of energy, with a student section taking hold in the lower portion of the Spartans side, and the team seemed to feed off it. Even a fan in the Albion section was heard remarking, “These Starpoint fans are awesome,” while another added, “I think it’s their fans that are making them amazing.”
Starpoint got off to a similar strong start in the second set, taking a 5-0 lead and extending it to 21-13. At that point, the Lady Purple Eagles got into their best groove of the evening, scoring on eight consecutive points to draw even at 21-21.
With Chanyce Powell serving, Albion forced Starpoint into a number of mis-hit returns that either hit the net or sailed wide. Starpoint had to take a timeout at 21-19, with Capacci high-fiving her players as they jogged back to the bench.
The teams traded the next four points, making it 23-23, but Starpoint came up with the next two to win the set 25-23 and take a commanding 2-0 advantage.
“That second set was probably the difference in the match,” Capacci said. “If we had won it, it would’ve put us back on track. That one was pivotal for tonight.”
Starpoint jumped out to the lead again in the third set, going up 4-1 and making it 10-7 before the Lady Purple Eagles fought back once again. Keyed by inspired play from Powell, Jasmyn Smith and Sara Millspaugh, Albion won 10 of the next 15 points to take a 17-15 lead, knowing they needed to win the set to stay alive.
Unfortunately for Capacci and company, the Lady Spartans were on fire from that point forward, winning 10 consecutive points to close the match. With Starpoint’s Jenna Faulkner serving, Albion couldn’t find a defensive rhythm down the stretch.
About 30 Starpoint fans stormed the court once the result became final, and the Lady Spartans emerge as the class of Class B.
“Our passing kind of broke down midway through the second game, but we figured it out and rallied back with our passing,” Starpoint coach Kristie Slack said. “This means so much to our girls. We don’t have an all-star, but we make up for it with a lot of depth.”
The Lady Spartans beat No. 1 Springville on the road in a quarterfinal contest last week, a result that Slack said gave her team confidence to continue on its winning postseason path. Still, she admits that she didn’t necessarily expect a championship.
“We went 5-7 in our division this year, so we never really expected it to go this far,” Slack said. “But we play in a tough, tough league, and working through some of those matches prepared us both mentally and physically.”
“They played better than we did,” Capacci added.
Allison Koithan led Starpoint with 33 digs, while Hattie Lasal added 26 assists.
For the Lady Purple Eagles, Powell had five kills, an ace and three blocks, while Meghan Hurley had nine assists, eight digs, two kills and an ace. Kelsee Soule added 11 digs, seven kills, an ace and a block, while Aleah Foos had four kills, six blocks and an ace.
Albion will graduate four seniors but bring back 11 returning players, and Capacci expects some of her younger athletes to lead similar deep postseason runs in the seasons to come. The Lady Purple Eagles knocked off No. 15 Lew-Port, No. 7 Iroquois and No. 2 Cheektowaga (all at home) to make it to the final at Sweet Home, and the squad would surely love to return to the championship-game stage.
“This is something to build on,” Capacci said. “We’ll try to keep our girls together and healthy, and see what they can do next year. We’re going to be back here, absolutely.”