MANLIUS — A sight as familiar as the bad weather in November, but one that has been missed for the past two years, was to see women’s volleyball teams from Baldwinsville and Shenendehowa battle it out for regional Class AA supremacy.
This long-standing cross-industry rivalry was renewed on Saturday in Fayetteville-Manlius. With a berth in all four state finals on the line, the Bees did their best, only to be swept away in three sets by the Plainsmen.
Despite busy tournament schedules this fall, B’ville and Shen hadn’t faced each other, but were still well aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
And it didn’t take long for the Plainsmen to assert themselves, definitely taking the lead early in the first set and continuing until they were given a 25-14 decision.
Not once in this opening set have the Bees won consecutive points. What was more alarming was that on several occasions what seemed like easy points due to spikes were kept alive by Shen’s remarkable defensive ability.
Here and in a 25-9 set, B’ville didn’t make many real mistakes. It was fair against an opponent playing at an extremely high level, both in attack and defense.
Along with his ability to find open space in the middle of the floor on touch shots, the Plainsmen also served well, giving up just three points overall on errant serves.
Despite all this, B’ville, trailing for most of the third set, fought back to tie the match, 19-19, only for Shen to rack up three straight points and eventually end the match 25-21.
The Plainsmen advanced to this weekend’s state finals in Glens Falls while B’ville faced the end of a season where, under freshman coach Danielle Sayler, it had regained its familiar place at the top of the ranks of the region’s great schools.
In 2023, the Bees won’t have outgoing seniors Kyrah Wilbur, Kathyrn AuClair, Maddie Diep, Erin Gregoire and Sarah Coomes on hand, but will bring back top setter MadisonMacKaig with libero Sadie Phelps and hitters like Amelia Hahn and Nela Loftin .