By David Yarger, Special to the News
The Grand Island and Clarence boys volleyball teams punched tickets to Rochester with victories in the Section VI Division 2 crossover and Division 1 finals, respectively.
GI, the Division 2A champs, were victorious over the Eden Raiders, Division 2B champs, 3-1 (20-25, 26-24, 25-22, 25-16), and Clarence won versus Orchard Park, 3-1 (26-24, 25-23, 21-25, 25-23).
The first matchup was a rematch of last year’s Division 2 crossover. For the Raiders, it was their fourth straight crossover appearance.
In the first set of the Division 2 crossover, the score was tied four times early. Eden showed its power, though, as the Raiders pulled away, leading by as much as seven on four occasions, to win 25-20.
The final three sets would go the Vikings’ way.
Set two was back and forth. The Raiders gained a 20-15 lead late, but failed to maintain it, as Bill Wieberg and Grand Island completed a rapid comeback to tie the match at 23. A Wieberg ace gave the Vikings a 26-24 win.
In the third set, Grand Island gained the upper hand. After Eden came back from a 22-17 deficit, Wieberg ended the set with back to back kills to ice a 25-22 win.
In the final set, the Vikings sealed the deal. GI led by as many as ten, and Wieberg put the final stamp on the game with another kill to end it, 25-16.
Eden has been an elite staple for years, and for GI coach Bill Schultz, revenge from 2018 was bittersweet.
“It feels great. I’ve been coaching now for 19 years and we’ve played Eden a lot and lost to them a lot,” Schultz said. “It’s the first time I’ve ever beat them. That’s a great coach (Robert Pierce) over there, a great program and it feels good. Whatever happens from here on out will be great, but this feels good.”
Schultz added, to beat Eden “you must be disciplined and outwork them, because they’re going to come to play every time.”
Following a season split between OP and Clarence, the Red Devils took the third battle in the D-1 final.
In the first set, Clarence dominated out of the gate. Orchard Park made a ferocious comeback, eventually taking their first lead at 23-22. Clarence’s Johnny Bly ended it with a kill for a 26-24 victory.
The Red Devils success continued in set two, as they took a contentious battle, 25-23.
Orchard Park refused to go down easy, with a 25-21 victory in set three.
Clarence closed out the Quakers in set five, but OP made life difficult. Clarence sealed their first title since 2016 with a 25-23 fourth set win.
Red Devils coach David Hill said a sectional crown was on the team’s wish list this season.
“It’s amazing. I have one player who was on this team in 2016 and he shared his experiences with these guys from day one. Our goal was, this year, to win a sectional title and they did that tonight,” Hill said.
Hill added he’s excited to continue the season with his guys, and he “couldn’t ask for a better team.”
The Vikings (20-0) play Churchville-Chili at 1 p.m. Saturday at Midlakes High School. Clarence (17-1) will follow versus McQuaid at 3:30 p.m.