By Diana C. Nearhos
Special to The News
GLENS FALLS – Panama just keeps rolling with the firsts. The Panthers were the first Panama team since 2003 to win Section VI and the first to make it to the State Volleyball Tournament, now they’re the first to advance to the final.
The Panthers have the chance to be the first Panama team to win the Class D state championship Sunday at noon against Argyle. And middle hitter Alexys Marsh wants to hang a big banner in the gym.
Tara Sweeney, the team’s only senior, couldn’t find the words: "It’s so exciting," she said. "It feels like a dream."
Panama swept its way through pool play, winning all six matches against Tuxedo (25-18, 25-9), Argyle (25-16, 25-16) and Bishop Ludden (25-17, 25-21).
The key was to keep swinging and playing their game. When the Panthers swung and hit hard – rail it, Marsh said they call it — they threw other teams off. Madalyn Bowen made 24 kills, Natalie Angeletti had 22 and Marsh 14.
Eden back in finals
Eden may have had an easy path through Class C pool play, but the Raiders aren’t considering their eighth straight championship a given. They remember last year, when they blew out Millbrook in pool play and then had to work for the 3-1 championship win.
Eden swept Pawling (25-11, 25-13), Galway (25-13, 25-6) and East Rockaway (25-8, 25-7).
"The way we do things, we don’t really care what’s going on on the other side of the net," coach Stephen Pierce said. "We’re going to do things the same way whether it’s a big AA school – which we play during the year – or a school our size."
He’s confident that enough of the players remember that to maintain a business-like attitude and not let up in preparing for the final against Pawling at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Sam Burgio led the Raiders with 27 kills and 16 digs. Paiton Bainski made 14 kills and seven digs. Alyssa Durski served 10 aces.
Will East loses playoff
Williamsville East made it to the 14th set of pool play but fell to Kings Park in a one-set playoff and was knocked out in Class A.
The Flames got out to a 6-2 lead but then gave up six points to let Kings Park come back. The Kingsmen went off from there to a 25-17 win.
The Flames split their matches against Kings Park (25-17, 18-25) and Burnt Hills (25-22, 21-25) and were swept by Walter Panas of Cortlandt Manor (25-18, 27-29). East came close to pulling out the second set against Walter Panas, with two set points, but couldn’t get there.
At the time, coach Scott Wright hoped the momentum from the comeback would carry the Flames through the next four sets. But Wright didn’t think they played with the same intensity after that and wondered if not finishing on either of two game points against the top-seeded team might have gotten into the Flames’ heads.
"Overall, we just did a really good job that wasn’t enough," Wright said.