Two-time defending state champion Portville and perennial contender Eden will face off for the Section VI Class C girls volleyball championships on Friday after their victories Wednesday night at Jamestown Community College.
Portville swept past Allegany-Limestone in straight sets, 3-0, to gain a place in the Class C final for the fourth year in a row. The Panthers had a difficult first set before vanquishing the Gators, 25-23, but got stronger as the match went on winning the next two sets, 25-13 and 25-17.
Eden won in more routine fashion over Niagara-Orleans League co-champion Akron in three sets as well.
Friday night’s match at JCC will be the fourth in a row between Portville and Eden for the sectional Class C championship. Eden triumphed in 2017, but Portville has won the last two.
The Panthers have won three straight championships in Class C in the first four seasons under coach Kelly Unverdorben. The school has five state titles in all.
Before Portville arrived on the Class C scene in 2015, moving up from Class D, Eden dominated girls play among state public schools. The Raiders won three state championships in Class B and then in Class C, the last in 2016.
Portville did not lose a set to a CCAA East opponent all season. The Panthers were unbeaten in regulation matches. Most of their set losses came in tournament play outside Western New York.
This year’s Portville roster of 15 players includes nine who played on the 2018 state championship team including 6-foot co-captains Shayla Wilhelm and Laura Wilhelm, outside hitter Hailey Keim and outside hitter Tori Unverdorben who played as an eighth grader. Libero Olivia Emley, a junior, is a defensive star who usually leads in digs.
Most of the Portville Panthers played on the Octane Panthers, who played in the USA Volleyball Girls National Championships last
Third-year head coach Hailee Herc’s Eden team played an independent schedule. Most of the Raiders’ losses were in tournament play or to local powerhouse teams, St. Mary’s, Orchard Park and Clarence.
Eden’s roster lists only three seniors and two eighth-graders, one of whom, Ashley Ballou, had seven aces and 10 assists in Wednesday night’s match. Junior Eve Musielak had 12 kills and six digs for the Raiders while Lainey Overhoff, another junior, had six kills and five aces. Senior Emma Sutfin, usually a standout with her floor game, had six digs.