GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – It certainly wasn’t the first dogpile for the Calhoun girls volleyball team. But every player knew it was going to be their last.
It was one unexpected by those not wearing a Calhoun uniform. But everyone representing the Colts had a feeling it was going to come this fall.
Calhoun defeated Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 25-11, 25-19, 25-19, in the girls volleyball state Class A final at Cool Insuring Arena to win its first state title in program history Sunday afternoon. It also came in the program’s first trip to the state championships. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake finished 20-3.
“It was just crazy to have that moment and celebrate that for one more time instead of walking off the court upset,” senior Julia Lawrence said. “That’s what we wanted. Every single time we’ve stormed the court this season, it was the best feeling in the world and to get to celebrate that one last time was amazing.”
Lawrence had 16 kills, Grace Miller added nine and Olivia Ruisi had five.
“We knew we could do this and no one else thought we could do this,” Lawrence said. “We really wanted to prove that to everyone.”
Calhoun (16-5) embraced that underdog mentality throughout the season. The Colts felt underestimated because they had never won a county title.
“We just wanted to prove everyone wrong,” senior libero Ella Maldonado said. “We’ve been underestimated all season. No one thought we could do it. We were unranked in the state coming into this tournament and we just kept upsetting and upsetting teams in the tournament, until we finally got here. The only people that believed in us, were us.”
Calhoun went 5-1 in pool play on Saturday before sweeping the state final.
“I did not expect to win in three [sets],” setter Gianna Lucchi said. “I thought it was going to be a dogfight in five but winning in three really showed that if you never give up, you can really achieve what you want.”
The three seniors on this year’s team, Victoria Zovich, Maldonado and Lawrence, felt they could be a part of the core to change the history of Calhoun volleyball. Even as sophomores, they had high aspirations.
“During our sophomore year when I started playing, we all had the dream together we were going to win,” Zovich said. “And this year especially with the group of girls we had, we knew we could win it. We all wanted it so bad that there was no way any of us were going home without the win.”
Even coach Christina Strezenec, who was a 2010 graduate of Calhoun, became emotional on the court after the Colts secured the state crown.
“It’s incredible,” Strezenec said. “As a player, I got knocked out by Massapequa and I knew that going into it. But for these girls to have this moment to be here, to be in this arena and be playing with the best of the best is a memory they’ll never forget ever.”
“This is history,” Miller said. “Last year was our first year at counties and now we’ve won states. That’s crazy for us. This is what we were meant for. We all knew we were going to get here.”