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Portville volleyball takes championship step up as it wins state Class C title; Will East, Panama fall

Special to The News

GLENS FALLS -- The dominance was the same, but the class was different.

Portville won its first state girls volleyball title in Class C on Sunday at Cool Insuring Arena, defeating Millbrook 3-1 (25-9, 15-25, 25-13, 25-13). The Panthers' previous three state titles came in Class D, the last one in 2015.

After splitting the first two sets, Portville held an 11-10 lead before all-tournament-team selection Sierra Keim made a touch shot that found a hole in Millbrook's defense. That started a run of three points and gave the Panthers necessary confidence the rest of the way.

Portville's serving and net play was outstanding in the win. Class C most valuable player Beth Miller had a large role in both. In the first set, she served for nine consecutive points.

"We spend a lot of time on serving (in practice)," Miller said. "We think it's our best quality as a team. We all have such different things in our serves that are good for each and every point we get. We keep them out of system with our serving."

"We'll serve for like 15 minutes at practice, getting five in a row. If you mess up, restart," added Haley Unverdorben, another all-tournament-team selection.

As for the net play, Millbrook had a height advantage on the Panthers, but that's nothing new or in any way intimidating.

"We know that we're short, so we know we have to get up to get blocks," Keim said. "We do a lot of jump-roping."

Portville committed some uncharacteristic errors in losing the second set, but there was no panic on the Panthers' faces.

"I think it made us more focused and made us work harder," Unverdorben said.

Williamsville East swept

Williamsville East is getting closer, but it's not quite there yet.

After losing in a pool play tiebreaker last year, the Flames reached the final this year, but couldn't deny Walter Panas' defense of its Class A state title.

The Panthers won in straight sets, 25-14, 25-19, 25-16.

Senior Makayla Greenfield and junior Rachel Steffan made the all-tournament team for the Flames, who have just three seniors.

Panama falls short of title defense

Panama ran into a buzz saw Sunday while trying to defend its Class D state title. Bainbridge-Guilford downed the Panthers 3-1, by scores of 25-10, 25-14, 15-25, 25-12.

"They played a great game, very few mistakes," Panama coach Tammy Hosier said of B-G. "Yesterday we had some great blocking. We had some blocking today, but they were getting everything."

Panama trailed 10-9 in the second set before B-G went on a short run, then gradually increased its lead. And while the Panthers won the third set, it was clear they were swimming against the tide. B-G controlled the fourth set.

Hosier said her team didn't play as well as it did in pool play Saturday. There's been some minor adversity for the team to deal with, but she's still happy with how it finished.

"Number two in the state isn't too shabby," she said. "I told the girls, 'Don't let this loss define your volleyball season,' because they've done great."

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