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Eden, Portville advance to Class C girls volleyball championship

Portville will take another swing at trying to end Eden’s run of dominance.

The two teams will meet in the Section VI Class C girls volleyball championship rematch on Monday night at Daemen College following their respective sectional title defenses on Thursday night at Brocton.

Portville (18-3) swept Cassadaga Valley in the C-2 final after Eden (18-1) won its 19th straight sectional title and 22nd in the last 23 years with a four-set victory over Akron in the C-1 final.

It was the first one, however, for new coach Hailee Herc, a former Raiders star who took over the program after the state’s all-time winningest coach, Stephen Pierce, retired following last season.

“This one was kind of an expectation for us,” Herc said. “It’s moving forward and getting the next steps that I’m more concerned about.”

Eden has won eight straight state championships and has reached the state semifinals in each of the last 18 seasons. Still, another sectional plaque is something worth celebrating, senior captain Sam Logan said.

“It’s a big accomplishment for us and a big win for our school,” said Logan, who led the Raiders with 16 kills and 18 assists.

Eden won the opening game 25-18 before Akron fought back to take the second set 25-16.

“We took that second game and it really pumped us up,” Akron coach Brenda Sundown said. “We lost our energy in the third and fourth and we definitely could have beat them if we had kept our energy up. We just made too many errors.”

This was the third year in a row the Tigers (17-1) lost to Eden in the C-1 final. It was the second straight year they came into the match undefeated.

“It’s a tough road to run into them every single time,” Sundown said. “But we have four of our six starters coming back and beating them in that set is definitely something we can grow from.”

The Raiders regrouped to win the third set 25-10 and went for the kill in the fourth set, establishing a 10-1 lead before winning, 25-7.

“It really got in our head that we need to play better,” Logan said. “It pushed us to play to our full potential.”

Katlyn Schmitz had 20 assists for Eden and Emma Suftin recorded 23 digs. Herc also singled out the strong play of freshman Eve Musielak during this postseason run.

Darion Jonathan (11 kills) and Helena Hill (six kills, three aces) led the Tigers’ attack. Senior captain Sharrah Jonathan had six kills.

In the C-2 final rematch, Portville (18-2) wore warmup shirts that read “nobody trains for second place” on the back and backed up their slogan with a fourth straight sectional title. The Panthers pulled out a back-and-forth first set 25-22 before taking the second game 25-17 and dominating the third, 25-7.

“We tend to do that,” Portville coach Kelly Unverdorben said. “We walk on the court and we forget where we are at some times. We got it together by set two and they brought their game. I was happy with them and proud of the way they played tonight.”

Beth Miller led the Panthers with 18 kills and four blocks. Haley Unverdorben had 16 assists and seven aces. Sierra Keim recorded 10 kills and Ericka Carlson and Brooke Decker each had 12 digs.

For Cassadaga Valley (18-3), Maranda Perez tallied seven digs, three kills, two blocks and two aces, Jenna Caskey had six aces and three kills, and Savanna Nickerson notched 10 assists.

Portville won consecutive Class D championships before moving up to Class C in 2016. The Panthers were the only team to take a set from Eden in last year’s sectionals.

“We’re going to do what we do and if we come out with it, great, and if we don’t, we don’t,” Unverdorben said. “We are just going to play the best volleyball we can play.”

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