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Centaurs rule despite historic loss

One of the biggest victories of this past girls volleyball regular season came in a loss.

Anyone that follows Western New York volleyball knows that City Honors rules the Buffalo Public Schools. The Centaurs continued their dominance this year by winning their 26th straight league championship -- and they did it by going undefeated in its 12 matches.

But they lost a game.

No big deal, right? With teams playing best-of-five matches, what's a game as long as the team wins?

Not when it comes to City Honors and city volleyball.

In the team's first matchup with Hutch-Tech, City Honors won the first two games before falling in the third in what would end up as a 3-1 victory for the Centaurs by scores of 25-9, 25-15, 18-25, 25-18.

But that third game was a historic one.

The victory by Hutch-Tech ended an astounding streak of 867 consecutive city league games won by the Centaurs. Not only have they won the league title every year in a streak that started in 1985, all of the previous seasons had been done by sweeping every opponent.

The last time the Centaurs lost was on Nov. 7, 1984. It was a 15-11, 15-5 loss to Grover Cleveland in the final match of that season. Since then, matches have expanded from best-of-three to best-of-five (in 1993), and the league has fluctuated from 12 to 15 teams.

City Honors had won the first 20 games of the season before dropping the one against Hutch-Tech in its seventh match of league play.

While one streak is over, another astounding one continues.

City Honors swept Hutch-Tech in the teams' second meeting, which was also their season finale, 25-18, 25-16, 25-11. That now makes the Centaurs' city match win streak at 330.

The games streak? Right now it is at 16, which gives you some perspective on Honors' dominance of the league under current coach Deborah Matos and predecessor, multi-Hall of Famer Drake Francescone.


All-state picks

The local selections who made the 2011 all-state girls volleyball team:

Class AA: Third team -- Maryellen Devic (Orchard Park), Sydney Rojek (Frontier). Fourth team -- Danielle Donorovich (Lockport), Bre Opera (Lancaster).

Class A: Second team -- Nikki Attea (Williamsville North), Emily Hopkins (Williamsville North). Third team -- Alicia Porack (Hamburg); Erica Moser (Williamsville East). Fourth team -- Delaney Laper (North Tonawanda).

Class B: Second team -- Cady Messmer (Albion). Third team -- Janelle Shaffer (Olean), Julia Wright (Newfane). Fourth team -- Jen Mikolajek (Cheektowaga), Kat Jones (Newfane), Theresa Fleckenstein (Lew-Port).

Class C: First team -- Kendall Pierce (Eden), Tori Eschner (Eden), Lainey Pierce (Eden). Second team -- Rebecca Shoemaker (Eden). Third team -- Jen Stebbins (Gowanda), Meghan McCarthy (Eden). Fourth team -- Shannon Gunnell (Falconer).

Class D: First team -- Marah Maycock (Randolph), McKenna Maycock (Randolph). Second team -- Michelle Nagle (Randolph). Third team -- Jill Einink (Chautauqua Lake), Maddie Szpaicher (Ellicottville).


In-side out WNY

*The ninth state title by Eden extended its state record total of championships, a record it established in 2009 by breaking a tie with six-time champion Sweet Home (1990-95). This year's title also extended a state-record total for 19-year coach Stephen Pierce, who won his eighth.

*Eden was the only Section VI team to win a state title -- in Class C -- and it kept alive a proud history for Western New York at the championships. In the 22 years that the state tournament has been held since 1990, only once -- in 2003 -- did Section VI fail to win a title. A streak like that comes thanks in large part to the multi-year success of programs like Sweet Home, Eden, North Tonawanda and Randolph. Since 2004, the year the state expanded from four to five classes, Section VI has won 14 of the 40 state championships.

*Alex Brown was part of a breakthrough season for Grand Island. The powerful outside hitter with leaping ability that can win a sectional long jump title (she did last spring) has verbally committed to Maryland. She had double-digit kills in 12 of 14 Niagara Frontier League matches to help the Vikings to a 12-2 league record and a share of NFL title for the first time since 1991.

*In the final edition of's exhaustive rankings, St. Mary's was the top rated local team and the fifth-best team from New York. St. Mary's was 179th in the country, behind John Glenn (No. 98) of Section XI (Suffolk County, L.I.), neighbor Penfield (No. 101) of Section V (Rochester area), Burnt Hills (No. 102) of the Albany area (Section II) and Baldwinsville's Baker High (No. 177) of Section III (Syracuse area).

*This season's champions:

Monsignor Martin Association Division A (large schools) -- St. Mary's. Monsignor Martin Division B (small): Niagara Catholic.

Buffalo Public Schools -- City Honors.

ECIC I -- Williamsville North. ECIC II -- Hamburg. ECIC III -- Cheektowaga. ECIC IV -- Eden.

Niagara Frontier League -- Grand Island and Lockport.

Niagara-Orleans League -- Wilson.

CCAA I -- Gowanda. CCAA II -- Randolph. CCAA III -- Chautauqua Lake and Ellicottville. CCAA IV -- Panama.