East Aurora isn't just a cross country, football or soccer school anymore.
It's a girls' volleyball one too, and a familiar name had a hand in securing the Blue Devils' first Section VI title.
Kathryn Pierce recorded eight aces and 14 kills, while Audrey Zimmerman notched three of her 17 kills in the decisive fifth game as East Aurora won the Class B title with a 25-15, 24-26, 25-20, 23-25, 25-20 triumph over Newfane on Saturday at Hilbert College's Brad Hafner Recreational Center.
EA's serving prowess proved to be the key to the win. The Blue Devils rode the hot hand of Pierce, the daughter of Eden coach Stephen Pierce, to a big lead in the opening game. They built an 11-2 lead in the final game behind the sizzling serve of Julie Murak (six aces).
"It's an exciting feeling," Zimmerman said. "We've played excellent all year long. It just feels good to finally be recognized."
"Coming from a school where volleyball really isn't a huge sport, . . . it is really exciting to come back with a sectional win," said Pierce, who received a loud ovation from Eden fans during the post-match awards presentation.
In the Class C final, Eden won its ninth straight sectional title and 14th overall, sweeping Cassadaga Valley, 25-12, 25-9, 25-16.
"I'm excited," said senior setter Chelsea Hennigan, who finished with 36 assists and three aces. "Eden is always expected to win but we always have to work harder to win. Teams are always out to beat Eden."
East Aurora and Eden return to action Saturday against Section V foes in the Far West Regionals at ECC's Burt Flickinger Center.
An estimated 300 fans watched East Aurora (21-2) shed its forgettable playoff past, filled with quick exits, by beating Newfane, which had lost the previous three years in the Class B final to Eden before that school moved down to Class C due to drop in enrollment.
Still, the Panthers (20-2) were denied once again by a member of the Pierce family.
Kathryn Pierce, a senior lefty, gave Newfane fits during the opening game, notching five of her aces as EA raced to a 6-0 lead. Murak notched five aces during a nine-point blitz in the final game that snapped a 2-2 tie. Emily Smith also had six aces for the Blue Devils.
"Our motto for the year was to always serve tough," first-year East Aurora coach Molly Schrantz said. "It's a key factor that wins a lot of games [for us]."
"They weren't overly aggressive serves but that's been our struggle all year," Newfane coach Christy Mooberry said. "The consistency, sometimes we're on and sometimes we're off."
Newfane pulled within 17-16 and 21-20 in the final game but four straight hitting errors doomed the comeback.
"We had a couple of mistakes and when it's tight you can't have mistakes," Mooberry said.
Allyson Pierce (no relation to Kathryn) led Newfane with 19 kills.
Eden (21-0) and Cassadaga Valley (19-6) faced each other for the first time. And . . .
"All the rumors [regarding the strength of Eden] are true," CV coach Linda LiCausi said. "They have a very nice setter. She disguised where she was going with that ball."
Hennigan's passing made it difficult for scrappy but overmatched CV to set up the block as the Raiders' Katie Eschner had eight kills, while Stacey Smith had six and seven aces.
"Part of our struggle was Cassadaga Valley," Stephen Pierce said. "Even when we had 24 points in the final game, they made it difficult to get that last point."