Beth Miller didn't just talk about getting better, she did something about it. And the impact was felt.
Miller had 17 kills and 13 aces as Section VI Portville beat Section III Skaneateles 25-8, 25-18, 25-13 to win its NYSPHSAA Class C subregional game at Daemen College on Wednesday.
It was part of a doubleheader in which Section III Westhill beat Section VI Alden in straight sets.
Portville and Westhill advanced to the Far West Regionals that will be played Saturday at LeRoy High School. Portville will play at 3 p.m.
Miller, who is No.1 in the state in aces (164) and kills (481), was a force on the court as her series of thunderous serves closed out set two.
"I think it has," Miller said of her improved serving. "I put a lot of time and effort into it."
"A serve like that, you have to," Portville coach Kelly Unverdorben said of the extra work put in by Miller. "You're not gonna pull that off with a preseason of a couple weeks and a little bit of practice. You have to work on it all year during beach volleyball. She did it all through nationals at beach. All club season, so a lot of time."
The power of Miller's serves and kills were evident in the reaction of the Lakers, who had no answer for what Miller delivered.
The Panthers were in control the majority of the contest.
Setter Kylie Blessing (28 assists, eight digs, five aces) flawlessly ran the offense. Ericka Carlson (six aces and nine digs) and Sierra Keim (11 digs, six kills) also made important contributions.
The Panthers stayed disciplined throughout. With three state titles since 2014, they have learned how to stay composed in big-game situations.
"We definitely have the experience since we have been to state before," Miller said. "A lot of our players who are on the court now have been on the court in high-stress situations. So we all know we have the confidence and we don't get nervous."
Unverdorben agreed. Her players have national club experience and a strong non-league schedule has Portville primed for another run at the title.
"So many people ask me why would you want to play St. Mary's and ruin your record?" the coach said. "It's not about a record to me. It's about getting my kids prepared for the best competition. And if you want to be one of the best, you need to play some of the best."
Alden players did one last team circle. The game and the season were over, but nobody wanted to break the huddle and say goodbye.
"We did. I'm proud of us," Bulldogs senior Emma Diebel said. "Senior year. It was a good run."
Westhill of Syracuse swept, Alden 25-20, 25-21, 25-17, to advance to the Far West Regionals for the first time since 2015. The Warriors had a strong offensive attack led by setters Sarah Schwartz and Mackenzie Martin.
Diebel said that while virtually every girl will see each other in other sports, the reason for the long goodbye and tears was that they cared so much about each other.
"Just the bond that we have together," she said.
First-year coach Amanda Breyer said that when her girls decompress from the emotion of the season ending, she hopes they take pride in knowing they went farther than any team in school history.
"Absolutely, and even during that game, I've never been so proud of them," Breyer said. "They played an amazing game."
Alden was led by Shelby Kersten's 13 kills and two blocks. Kersten will play at Daemen next season.