For every year that she had one of her three daughters going through the championship volleyball program at Lancaster, Tracy Martzolf would make a playoff banner that celebrated the Redskins' winning tradition.
With the last of the Martzolf sisters, Danielle, part of a huge graduating class last year that won a state championship for Lancaster, this season a new group of parents had to step up to make a banner -- and a new group of players had to step up to honor it.
With a new, homemade, black-and-red banner taped to the gym wall at Hilbert College's Brad Hafner Recreational Center on Monday night, the daughters on this year's Lancaster team beat Kenmore West in four games for the Redskins' seventh straight Section VI Class AA title. The Redskins beat Kenmore West in the final for the second straight year, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19, 25-20.
In the second half of the doubleheader played before 850, Starpoint swept Lake Shore for the Class A title, 25-12, 25-22, 25-22.
Lancaster and Starpoint moved on to Saturday's Far West Regionals at the Flickinger Center at Erie Community College's downtown campus. The five-match lineup starts with East Aurora playing in the Class B regional at 10 a.m., followed by matches at noon (Eden in Class C), 2 p.m. (Randolph in Class D), 4 p.m. (A) and 6 p.m. (AA).
Lancaster's banner accounted for not only its sectional crowns but the program's 10 straight league titles, six straight Far West Regional wins and its two state championships in the last three years. Constructed by a group of Lancaster parents at the home of Amy Stribing (mother of outside hitter Alex Stribing) while coach Sue Pernick was running a practice Saturday morning, it read, "Keeping the tradition alive!"
This year's team did just that after beating a tough Kenmore West team -- one that Pernick called "the best we've ever played."
West evened the match at 1-1 largely behind the big hitting of senior Rachael Bowler, who teamed with fellow senior captain Katie Sember for some strong play at the net for the Blue Devils and ninth-year coach Kelly Strong.
"We were not as consistent as they were. Against a team like Lancaster you have be on your 'A' game," said Strong, a Lancaster grad. "If you're not on your 'A' game, they're going to take advantage of it."
Pernick praised the passing of senior libero Nicole Jablonski, which often would allow senior setter Brittany Lis to find any of Lancaster's multiple weapons: junior middle hitter Brittany Dorobiala (eight kills, six blocks), senior middle hitter Kelly Jones (eight kills), sophomore outside hitter Brittany Anthon (12 kills) and outside hitter Sarah Anthon (four).
"It was a full team effort," said Pernick. "We had our defense, and our multiple attacks . . . and in our corner is Brittany Lis. The setter is just like the quarterback in a football game. She's got the leadership, the skills, the heart. She dove, blocked, set, served. She did it all."
In the Class A championship, Starpoint avenged a loss to Lake Shore in last year's title game.
The Spartans started the match forcefully at the net as 5-foot-9 Katelyn Gillet and 6-foot Samantha Palka delivered powerful spikes and 5-10 Ashley Berry had a big block to set the tone in the opening game rout. The Spartans proved too much for a much smaller but very spirited Lake Shore squad.
"Revenge -- that's all we had to say," said Palka. "All of our players had to work hard all around, and it showed."