The 2014 season left little doubt that the best girls volleyball in New York State continues to be played in Western New York. Section VI won three of the five public school championships and St. Mary’s won the crown for Catholic schools not in a section.
It’s the 10th year in a row Section VI has won at least one state title.
Williamsville South (18-5) was crowed in Class B, Eden (36-5-4) took Class C and Portville (21-2) proved the best in Class D. Players from those teams are well-represented on this year’s All-Western New York team, chosen by area coaches.
St. Mary’s, the only school with more than one pick, landed Leah Meyer and Ashley Drzymala. Madison Clark represents South and Sam Burgio made it onto the nine-player squad from Eden.
Repeat picks were Meyer, Drzymala and McKyla Brooks of Frontier.
For South it was its first state title, Eden’s fourth straight and 12th overall and Portville’s second, the other coming in 2008. St. Mary’s has won three of the past four in the CHSAA.
Among the many highlights for South along the way was winning in five games in the Far West Regionals against Honeoye Falls-Lima. South won the fifth game 27-25.
“That was a barn-burner,” said South coach Tom Sproull. “The biggest thing that struck me about this team was how resilient they were. Everytime they got slapped in the face, they came back. It was amazing.”
Meyer leaves St. Mary’s as one of WNY’s most accomplished players. It goes far beyond being named All-WNY three times. She was a MaxPrep All-Amercan second team pick, NYS’ Gatorade Player of the Year and was ranked the 45th best senior in the country by Senior Ace.
A freak injury on Oct. 28 kept her out of the last 8.5 matches of the season. She still finished with 460 kills and was named the Monsignor Martin Association’s MVP the last three years.
Drzymala really picked up her game when Meyer went down, making sure the Lancers’ success continued on the court. She finished with 422 kills and 319 digs. As a team, St. Mary’s finished ranked No. 20th in the country by Prepvolleyball.com.
The 6-foot-1 Clark was recruited by six other Division I schools before deciding to stay local. UB will use her as a setter. The state title was her second in five months as she was also a member of the Billies’ softball team that won it all last spring.
“That fact she’s going to set, and as tall as she is, tells you what good hands she has,” said Sproull. “And to move as well as she does, shows you what kind of an athlete she is.”
Eden’s Stephen Pierce ended the season as the winningest coach in state history with 932 victories in a career that began in 1985.
Pierce said of his All-WNY pick Burgio: “When college coaches see this kid, they say she is extremely athletic. She’d be in the gym 24/7 if you let her. She’s the kind of kid who is knocking over lamps in the house constantly.”
Eden’s Kailey Ballou, who made the state all-tournament team, has signed with Daemen.
Winning sectional titles were Clarence (Class AA), Williamsville East (Class A), Williamsville South (B-1), Albion (B-2), Eden (Class C), Portville (D). Clarence’s title was its first since 1988. Eden’s crown was its 15th in a row.
Champions of the final WNY Coaches polls were: Clarence (large) and St. Mary’s (small), both unanimously.
Sally Rudny of Southwestern was named MVP of her league for the second time. Jenna Einink of Chautauqua Lake was this year’s CCAA West pick.
Turning in memorable senior years were Hamburg setter Taylor Hite, Williamsville North OH Lauren Schreiner and North Tonawanda OH Gabby Hanson. Williamsville East has a pair of outside hitters to watch next season: Lexi Novak and Carley Shifflett.