Sophomore Ciara Gregoire scored with 6:27 left in overtime Tuesday to give Barker a 2-1 victory over Akron in their Niagara-Orleans League match at Barker. It was the first loss of the season for the Tigers, who are ranked third in Western New York. Barker was ranked seventh in this week's Western New York Coaches Poll.
The outcome left the teams tied for first place in the league with 7-1 records each. Akron has won the last two N-O titles after years of domination by Barker. Akron won the first meeting this season between the teams, 2-1, on Sept. 7 and had won five straight over the Raiders in league play dating back to the 2015. Barker, however, won a shootout over Akron to decide the Section VI Class C championship last November after the teams were scoreless through regulation and two overtime periods.
Gregoire, who was on the varsity as an eighth-grader three seasons ago, has emerged as a late-season standout for coach Jeff Costello's team. She now has eight goals and five assists this season after scoring nine times as a freshman
"She has really elevated her play," Costello said.
After a scoreless first half, Akron took the lead on a goal by Rebecca Breymeyer with 23:16 left. Akron star Abby Stone assisted. Senior Natie Menz tied it for Barker with Gregoire assisting on the play with 9:01 left.
In the overtime Jillian Moeller sent the ball up to Gregoire, who carried it into the circle and from the right side drove her shot inside the far left post.
"It was a crazy angle," Costello said.
Senior defender Sarah Mason and senior Casey A'Hearn at center mid were key defenders for Barker, according to Costello.
"We had five shots on goal and they had three, so the goalies did not see a lot of activity," Costello said.
Both Barker and Akron have road matches at Roy-Hart among their four remaining games. The Rams' only losses in league play were to the league leaders and they took Akron to overtime before losing.
Clarence volleyball sweeps Lancaster
Clarence, 9-0 in ECIC I and ranked No. 1 in the most recent WNY Coaches Poll for girls volleyball, moved a step closer to clinching the division with a rousing three-set win at Lancaster Tuesday.
Jaide Cummings led with 11 kills and three aces as Clarence won 25-18,25-18 and 25-20. "It was good old fashioned Division I volleyball<" said Clarence coach Michael Meyer. "Both sides played at a really high level. We had a lot of fans and it was an exciting atmosphere to play in. The fans got what they came to see."
Meyer said his team has more than winning a league title on its mind.
"We're looking to keep on improving," Meyer said. "We graduated seven seniors from last year's team but we returned a bunch of starters, including some key people and we've had some girls who came up through the program," Meyer said.
For example, Leah Victor, who played as a freshman, is starting as a sophomore. She had seven kills in Tuesday's match.
"Also, Jenna Hugenschmidt is in her first year on the varsity," Meyer continued "and Kennedy Oleszak switched positions. She had to learn middle hitter and as the year goes by she's improved and we have come together as a team."
Mount St. Mary, preparing for its match against No. 1 ranked St. Mary's of Lancaster on Thursday, won a five-set nonleague duel over Wilson, coming back to win the last two on the road, 25-9, 25-21. Junior Faniella Gugino led the Thunder with nine aces and 10 kills. Sam Hare had 12 digs and Sarah Viccari five assists.
Meanwhile, St. Mary's continued to roll over Monsignor Martin Association, sweeping Nardin, 25-11, 25-1 and 25-15 with Kelly Cleversly contributing five aces to the attack.
In boys volleyball, North Tonawanda maintained its unbeaten record in the Niagara Frontier League sweeping Niagara Wheatfield, 25-17, 25-18, 25-17, as Alex Roy had 27 assists with Trevor Book cashing in for eight kills and Noah Fox nailing five kills and serving three aces. Kyle Adams had six kills for the losing Falcons.
CCA additions lead Nichols football win
Nichols, which has a combined football team with Christian Central Academy athletes, got major contributions from two CCA players in a 60-14 victory over visiting Trinity College of Port Hope, Ont.
Ben Leukeuneu, from CCA, scored on runs of 25 and60 yards and another CCA'er Matt Samuel, a freshman, caught scoring passes of 28 yards and 42 from Julian Freeman.
Freeman, a junior at Nichols completed 6 of 8 passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns and ran for one score himself.
It was the first win in four games for Nichols and the first game that the CCA athletes played for the combined team.
"They never had football before, so it was cool to get our first win with the combined team," said Nichols coach Bob Mullen.