GLENS FALLS, N.Y -- The Glenn Spiders knew the importance of Saturday-morning matches at the girls state volleyball championships. That's knowledge gained from winning two class B titles in the last five years, including one last season. So taking the first two games of the three round pool play at Glens Falls Civic Center did a lot in the way of breathing room for the Spiders.
"The hardest part of the state tournament is getting to the finals," Glenn coach Kevin Harrington said. "It's that pressure of dropping a game early [that's concerning]."
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Those concerns were washed away after a 25-17, 25-14 victory over Johnstown in the opening match. Two rounds, and two more wins later, Glenn was looking toward a championship game date with Skaneatles. Those two will vie for the Class B championship today at 10 a.m.
The path wasn't all easy for Glenn in that first match. The Spiders fought back to win the opener against Johnstown. Trailing 5-2 and 9-5, Glenn tied it at 9 thanks to a Samantha Czeczotka kill. Two points later, another Czeczotka kill broke a tie at 10. With Glenn ahead 14-13 and Stephanie Viteritti serving, the Spiders ripped off four straight points, giving them ample breathing room to take the game.
That scenario played out in the second game also, except that the two teams switched roles. Glenn scored the first six points before Johnstown tied the score at 10. But, with the Spiders leading 16-13, Johnstown scored five consecutive points to put the game out of reach.
That fast start to the morning was the result, in part, to some of Glenn's harder hitters.
"We connected well on the court," Czeczotka, who had six kills in the opening match, said.
The Spiders dropped their first game of pool play in their second match against Pelham. The contest was a rematch of last year's class B final.
The game had six ties and a late Pelham rally. Losing the final four points spoiled Glenn's hopes of a 4-0 record entering the final round of pool play and assured that they would need one win to clinch a spot in the title game.
Jackie Malusa had 13 kills, six digs, and three blocks in the second-round split. Kasey Muchnicki added 15 digs.
Despite the quality of opponent, the split was far from satisfying for Glenn.
"Losing the last [game] to Pelham really put it in perspective for us that we needed to push ourselves," Czeczotka said.
Just like Glenn wasted no time starting the morning off right, they got right to business in its third match, topping Skaneateles 25-16 in the first game, thus guaranteeing the Spiders a chance to defend their title.
"We practiced so hard for this," Malusa said of the championship game berth. "I'm really proud of how we played today and how we showed up."
For Glenn, the attention doesn't shift from its final pool play match. Same goal -- win. Same opponent -- Skaneateles.
"I think it's good for us," Czeczotka said of playing the same opponent. "We know what they do now. We're going to be that much more ready to play."