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St. Mary's dominated through depth, as a lineup filled with terrific talent covered every corner of the court to win the program's 12th Catholic state title

St. Mary's roster

1 Juliane Hackel, sr. OH

2 Jordan Gross, jr. MH

3 Samantha Giardina, jr. S

4 Megan Miller, sr. MH/OH

5 Rachelle Kelchlin, sr. DS

6 Maggie Concannon, sr. S

7 Olivia Zureck, sr. OH

8 Kelsey Hatfield, jr. DS

10 Mary Owczarczak, jr. MH

11 Ciara Rosten, soph. MH

13 Amber Drzymala, jr. OH

15 Lauren Hokaj, sr. L

16 Jacqueline Steck, soph. OH

17 Leah Meyer, fr. MH/OH

18 Ashley Drzymala, fr. OH

19 Alex Wnuk, jr. OH

Coach: Don Pieczynski

Assistants: Traci Vinz, Amy Jeary

Athletic director: Dan Gill

Principal: Rebecca Kranz

***

How they got there

1. Regular season: The Lancers, as usual, played a top-flight schedule of tournaments and nonleague games in addition to a Monsignor Martin schedule that it aced by going 13-0. It won two nonleague matches with eventual Class C state champion Eden as well as one with Section VI Class A champion Williamsville North. In tournament play, it lost to Eden at its own tournament, but later beat the Raiders to win the Eden Tournament. The last two teams it lost to were to top programs from Section V (Rochester area): Eventual Class AA state champion Penfield and Class A state runner-up Mercy.

2. Monsignor Martin championship: After watching Sacred Heart win the last two titles, the Lancers made up for what was a long championship drought for its program by storming to a sweep of Immaculata at Daemen College. Monsignor Martin North Division (large schools) MVP Maggie Concannon had 30 assists, Leah Meyer had 12 kills, Olivia Zureck had six kills and Rachelle Kelchlin seven straight service points in the opening game. "After these last two years, we knew we had to come out flying," said Concannon. "We had to prove that the last two years were flukes."

3. State championship: St. Mary's had home-court advantage in hosting the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association championships, and the Lancers rolled to the school's 12th state title. St. Mary's did not drop a set during pool-play wins over Immaculata and downstate champions St. Anthony's and St. Francis Prep. The final was a three-game sweep of St. Francis Prep in which the Lancers, as they had done all season, displayed their domination by way of depth. The standouts in the final included Meyer (nine kills, three blocks), Amber Drzymala (five kills), Ciara Rosten (five blocks, three kills), Megan Miller (four kills, three blocks), Lauren Hokaj (30 digs) and Samantha Giardina (10 digs). Another deep display: St. Mary's had five players among 12 named to the coaches' small school All-Western New York team (Concannon, Zureck, Miller, Hokaj, Meyer).

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Road to the championship / game-by-game to 45-5-3

St. Mary's Tournament

Sept. 10 vs. North Tonawanda, W, 2-0

Sept. 10 vs. West Seneca East, W, 2-0

Sept. 10 vs. Orchard Park, W, 2-0

Sept. 10 vs. V-Penfield, W, 2-1

Sept. 10 vs. Eden, L, 2-0 (final)

Sept. 12 vs. Sacred Heart, W, 3-0 *

Sept. 14 vs. Immaculata, W, 3-0 *

Sept. 16 vs. Mount Mercy, W, 3-0 *

Sept. 17 at V-Pittsford-Sutherland, L, 3-0

Sept. 20 vs. Eden, W, 3-2

Sept. 21 vs. Nardin, W, 3-0 *

*

Frontier Invitational

Sept. 24 vs. Nardin, W, 2-0

Sept. 24 vs. Hamburg, W, 2-0

Sept. 24 vs. Grand Island, W, 1-0

Sept. 24 vs. Roy-Hart, W, 2-0

Sept. 24 vs. North Tonawanda, T, 1-1

Sept. 24 vs. V-Mercy, L, 2-1 (final)

Sept. 27 at Niagara Catholic, W, 3-0 *

Sept. 28 vs. Mount St. Mary, W, 3-0 *

Sept. 29 vs. Cardinal O'Hara, W, 3-0 *

*

Eden Invitational

Oct. 1 vs. V-Penfield, T, 1-1

Oct. 1 vs. Ottawa, Canada, W, 2-0

Oct. 1 vs. West Seneca East, W, 2-0

Oct. 1 vs. III-Baldwinsville, W, 2-0

Oct. 1 vs. V-Pittsford-Sutherland, W, 2-0

Oct. 1 vs. Williamsville North, W, 2-1 (final)

Oct. 4 vs. Holy Angels, W, 3-0 *

Oct. 6 vs. Mount St. Mary, W, 3-0 *

*

Garden State Challenge at Ramapo (N.J.) College

Oct. 8 vs. Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.), W, 2-0

Oct. 8 vs. Bogota (N.J.), W, 2-0

Oct. 8 vs. V-Penfield, L, 2-0

Oct. 8 vs. Ridge (N.J.), W, 2-0

Oct. 9 vs. Glen Rock (N.J.), W, 2-0

Oct. 9 vs. Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.), T, 1-1

Oct. 9 vs. Ridge (N.J.), W, 2-0

Oct. 9 vs. Pascack Valley (N.J.), W, 2-0

Oct. 9 vs. Eden, W, 2-1

Oct. 9 vs. V-Penfield, L, 2-0 (final)

Oct. 11 vs. Sacred Heart, W, 3-0 *

Oct. 13 vs. Immaculata, W, 3-0 *

Oct. 17 vs. Mount Mercy, W, 3-0 *

Oct. 18 vs. V-Pittsford-Sutherland, W, 3-2

Oct. 19 vs. Frontier, W, 3-2

Oct. 21 vs. Williamsville North, W, 3-1

Oct. 25 vs. Eden, W, 3-0

Oct. 26 vs. Nichols, W, 3-0

*

Monsignor Martin quarterfinal

Oct. 31 vs. Mount Mercy, W, 3-0

*

Monsignor Martin semifinal

Nov. 2 vs. Nardin, W, 3-0

*

Monsignor Martin championship at Daemen College

Nov. 7 vs. Immaculata, W, 3-0

*

NYSCHSAA tournament at St. Mary's

Nov. 12 vs. Immaculata, W, 2-0

Nov. 12 vs. St. Anthony's (L.I.), W, 2-0

Nov. 12 vs. St. Francis Prep (Queens), W, 2-0

*

NYSCHSAA final at St. Mary's

Nov. 12 vs. St. Francis Prep (Queens), W, 3-0

* Monsignor Martin match

***

"We were led by our seniors all year, and we couldn't have gotten to this point without their leadership."

-- St. Mary's coach Don Pieczynski

******

State championship poster week: The News is paying tribute to Western New York's state champions from the fall. Orchard Park football (Dec. 3) was followed by Eden girls volleyball (Dec. 26) and St. Mary's girls volleyball (today). Look for Clarence girls swimming and East Aurora, Barker and Maple Grove cross country.

***

Compiled by Keith McShea / News Sports Reporter * Photos by Mark Mulville, John Hickey and James P. McCoy/Buffalo News

ON THE WEB: Go to buffalonewsstore.com to purchase high-quality versions of the state championship pages.