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High School Extra: St. Mary's, Canisius advance to Monsignor Martin volleyball finals

The St. Mary’s of Lancaster girls volleyball team will get a shot at its seventh straight Monsignor Martin Association title after a three-game sweep of Nichols in the semifinals played at Sacred Heart.

Summer Slade (12 kills) and Jillian Vitale (27 assists) led the way for the Lancers, who will play the Sharks for the second year in a row in Friday’s 7 p.m. final back at Sacred Heart.

“We were just working on our pace and our rhythm for Friday,” St. Mary’s coach Don Pieczynski said. “They got the homecourt advantage so we’re gearing up for that match.”

The Sharks beat Mount St. Mary in three sets in the other semifinal behind Clare Falkowski’s 22 assists and Lauren Aichinger’s 12 kills and 7 blocks.

Canisius will be looking for its 18th straight boys title in the first game of the doubleheader at 5 p.m. after it swept by St. Francis in the semifinals. Troy Gooch had 16 kills and five aces, while Matt Donnelly added 10 kills and a pair of aces.

The Crusaders play St. Mary’s, which swept St. Joe’s in the semis.

Vikings win five-set thriller

Grand Island breezed by Williamsville East in the first set of the Section VI Division II-A boys volleyball quarterfinals on Wednesday, 25-9, but the score was not indicative of how the rest of the match played out.

The Vikings only outscored the Flames by one point over the remaining four sets, but that’s all they needed. Grand Island won two of the next four sets (26-28, 25-22, 24-26, 15-13) to advance to Saturday’s semifinals at Lackawanna.

“The key is we served very well,” Vikings coach Bill Schultz said. “Our defense was solid. We picked up pretty much every ball.”

A big part of that was junior libero Dylan Russo, who had 32 digs. Kyle Podgorny added 12 kills offensively.

“He’s one of our captains,” Schultz said of Russo, “so we rely on him to control the back row.”

Elsewhere in Division II-A, Sweet Home beat Williamsville South in four sets (25-11, 25-12, 13-25, 25-20) to advance to the semis.

Sweet Home’s hitting and blocking were strong the first two sets but lacked in a third set dominated by the Billies.

“They were blasting the ball through our blocks and we couldn’t mount an attack because we couldn’t pass the ball to the setter,” Sweet Home coach Rich Cicero said.

The Panthers were more aggressive with their serving to close out the last set. Dylan Aarum led the way with eight kills and three aces, while Alex Stoj added five kills.

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