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PORT ALLEGANY â€“ Johnsonburg made things interesting with a close first set but were never able to fully regroup in a 3-0 (26-24, 25-13, 25-20) loss Thursday night at No. 1 seed Port Allegany.
â€śWe didnâ€™t really pass well but I thought we were really one hit away from winning that first game but then the second game, our composure went away a little bit,â€ť said Johnsonburg head varsity volleyball coach Bill Shuey. â€śYou canâ€™t win this game if you canâ€™t pass the ball.
â€śI donâ€™t think Port Allegany did anything differently to us, I just think we made a few mistakes.â€ť
The first set was a battle-and-a-half with the teams trading points down to the wire. The teams traded errors to get to 20-19 before a Johnsonburg net violation gave the home team the 2-point lead. A kill and subsequent ace from Johnsonburg senior Kiesha Dornish knotted the first set at 21-all. The Ramettesâ€™ next offensive try found the net but the visitors took advantage of two consecutive Lady Gator errors to take a 23-22 lead after a serve from senior Brianna Fabris.
A close strike from senior Katie Galsick fell just over the line to tie the score at 23-23 before Port Allegany junior Rachel Taylor snuffed out a Galsick kill attempt to put the Lady Gators on the brink of the first-set win at 24-23.
Galsick immediately redeemed herself with a play at the net to pull even at 24-all before Taylor took over. The junior middle hitter unleashed a big hit that was subsequently blocked by Johnsonburg but sailed out of bounds for a 25-24 Port Allegany lead. Taylor then served a rocket over the net that was mishit to give the Lady Gators the first set, 26-24.
The second game was nowhere near as close as Shuey expressed disappointment as the Ramettes made several errors en route to a 25-13 loss to go down two sets to none.
The teams were dead even at 5-all before Taylor again stole the show with a pair of kills and an ace for an 8-5 advantage; fellow Lady Gator junior Jenny Shelley would follow suit with a kill for a 9-5 lead before Taylorâ€™s next serve went into the net. A big hit from Galsick inched the Ramettes closer at 10-7 but the wheels started to fall off afterwards with a Shelley kill and subsequent error into the net from a 12-7 Port Allegany lead. A Lady Gator net violation temporarily halted the run at 15-10 but the home team took the next four points on two Johnsonburg errors, a kill from junior Ashley Woodruff and a big block from Taylor for a 19-10 lead.
A Galsick kill did little to stop the momentum as Taylor shrugged it off with a kill of her own. Two more errors gave Port Allegany a 10-point lead at 22-12 and despite a Dornish shot that fell just inside the line, the Lady Gators took advantage of three errors by Johnsonburg, culminating with a mishit off a Woodruff serve for a 25-13 win in the second set.
â€śWe had some unforced errors in the second game that let that one get away from us. [Port Allegany] didnâ€™t make the mistakes, we did,â€ť Shuey said. â€śI thought in the third game that it was nice to see our girls make a go of it and our passing seemed to get better.
â€śWe got some balls to the net but we just couldnâ€™t finish.â€ť
The home team jumped out to a quick 7-1 lead backed by two kills and a block from Taylor. The hot start prompted a Ramette timeout as the visitors tried to regroup and salvage the third set to extend the match.
A kill and ace from Johnsonburg sophomore Chelsea Benson closed the gap before kills from Taylor and Port Allegany senior Becca Culver restored order at 9-3. The teams traded points to 13-6 before the Lady Gators were slapped with a double-hit call to cut the lead to 14-6.
Another Taylor block built a 10-point lead at 16-6 and the teams traded errors on the next four points to 17-9 after a Taylor shot lined into the stands.
Kills from Benson and Galsick would later cut the lead to five points and despite a Taylor block, a Port Allegany hit found the net on the next point to set the score at 19-13.
Taylor and Galsick traded kills to 20-14 before a mishit from Woodruff off a poor set went nowhere near the net to cut the deficit to five points. Culver went on to lay down a kill at 21-15 before a shot from Johnsonburg junior Brittany Watts went long for a 7-point Lady Gator lead. Dornish laid down a kill on the next point to cut the score to 22-16 and senior Sarah Bevacqua served up an ace to inch closer.
A big block from Watts cut the deficit to four points before an errant shot from the Ramettes tip the out-of-bounds pole to give Port Allegany a 23-18 lead.
Watts and Benson laid down kills to cut the lead to 23-20 but the Ramettes misplaced the set on the next point to give the serve back to the home team.
With Port Allegany senior Becky Andrus serving for the match, a misplay on the Johnsonburg end finished the set, 25-20, and with it the 2011 season.
â€śYou canâ€™t give a team that is a good hitting team free balls,â€ť Shuey said as he discussed the difficulty overcoming Taylor and Port Allegany freshman Brooke Roys. â€śWe had to rely on our offense to prevent them from getting any offense, and when we did hit at them, we wouldnâ€™t really get a good hit on it.
â€śThen when weâ€™d try to just plop it over and tip it, they were right there waiting for it, set it up and knocked it down. You canâ€™t do that at this level, no one can.â€ť
Despite being an undefeated team in regular season play, Shuey said his team was not intimidated by the Lady Gatorsâ€™ accolades coming into the playoff match.
â€śWe werenâ€™t intimidated by that because the leagues are different and you just canâ€™t measure it that way,â€ť Shuey said. â€śIf the first game had turned out in our favor maybe it couldâ€™ve been a very different match.
â€śThe seniors played hard and you always hate to see this time of the season come because obviously their season is over. We have a lot of good athletes coming back but I would like to thank our seniors.â€ť
The departing seniors are Sarah Bevacqua, Kiesha Dornish, Brianna Fabris, Katie Galsick and Kiana Myers.