GI spikes NT with first loss
Alex Brown had 17 kills and two blocks as the Grand Island girls volleyball team handed North Tonawanda its first loss in Niagara Frontier League play. GI, the ninth-ranked large school, won at No. 5 NT in three straight games after surrendering the first, 16-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-22, Thursday night.
The Vikings are 7-1, 6-1 in NFL play, while NT is 6-2 and 6-1.
"Grand Island had outstanding blocking," said NT coach Jess Anderson. "That set the tone. Grand Island had great defense behind their blockers. Alex [Brown] would find ways to get around the [NT] defense."
Delaney Laper had 17 kills, 17 digs and three aces for NT.
How competitive is ECIC I girls volleyball? Clarence outlasted West Seneca West in a five-set match that was a thriller despite the teams having entered the match with one combined victory. Brook Mesnekoff had 14 kills and eight digs, libero Ally Gay had 19 digs and captain Simone Talford did a little bit of everything as Clarence came back from a two-game deficit to win, 30-32, 24-26, 25-22, 25-16, 25-17.
"These two teams are very evenly matched -- the first time it came down to five games, and this one went all the way down to the end," said Clarence coach Michael Meyer. "Both teams played great and showed great sportsmanship and it was a lot of fun for everyone to watch."
Talford had seven kills, 20 assists and nine blocks for the Red Devils (3-4, 2-4). The Indians fell to 1-7 and 0-7 in ECIC I, which is home to four top 10 large schools: No. 2 Williamsville North, No. 3 Frontier, No. 4 Orchard Park and No. 7 Lancaster while Sweet Home was among other teams receiving votes.
In a scheduling quirk, it was Clarence's first home match. "We had a very big home crowd for us," Meyer said. "I'm very proud to say they kept it all very positive and really supported our team. That was just great."
Pioneer survived a zany fourth game to fend off Springville in ECIC IV. The Panthers had a 2-1 lead in games when it went up, 17-8, in the fourth only to have the Griffins surge back with a 14-4 run to take a 22-21 lead. Pioneer then got great serving from Kylie McElver to score the final four points in the game, and the match. The Panthers won, 25-18, 18-25, 25-16, 25-22.
Eden displayed how it usually plays at another level than the rest of its league with a sweep of a JFK team which entered the match with just one league loss. Heather Holscher had 11 kills and Jackie Bonczar had seven digs in the two-time defending Class B state champion Raiders' 25-5, 25-12, 25-6 victory in Cheektowaga. Eden is 5-0 in league play; JFK is 5-2.
Barker corners Akron
A battle of unbeatens in Niagara-Orleans field hockey went to Barker, which took control by scoring the first three goals of the game -- all on penalty corners -- in a 4-1 victory over visiting Akron.
Barker coach Jude Otto was pleased with how her team -- which includes only five seniors among its roster of 18 -- reacted to the tough test. Barker (6-0, 6-0) got penalty-corner goals from sophomores Olivia Denny and Melissa Grosshans and freshman Gabby Clare in building a 3-0 lead before senior Eliza Dewart added a late goal on a breakaway.
"We have a large group of younger kids, a really young team, and last few games, they've really started to jell and come together," said Otto. "That was important. My little ones came through and I was really happy with that.
That youth combines with what Otto called her "meat and potatoes:" senior center half Ally Denny, junior sweeper Jess Heffron and junior midfielders Mackenzie Strickland and Kayla Moeller.
Claudia Stone had the goal for Akron (6-2, 6-1), which owned a 9-5 advantage in shots.
"We didn't finish," said Akron coach Mary Borden. "Barker did a great job, it was a great game."
Lockport boys keep kicking
The Lockport boys soccer team kept rolling along in an undefeated season, despite an injury to its starting goalie. With senior Anthony Pollicano out with a sore knee, senior Andrew Edbauer made four saves -- including one on a free kick -- in front of the Lions' strong defense in a 2-0 win over visiting Niagara-Wheatfield.
No. 1 large school Lockport (9-0-1) is 7-0-1 in Niagara Frontier League play while Niagara-Wheatfield had its five-game NFL unbeaten streak end.
Josh Beshaw and Alex Reid had the goals, with their passing creating both scoring opportunities on give-and-go plays.