No. 5 Panama Reaches Final With Defeat Of No. 8 Randolph

Panama’s Quinn Payne puts up a set. Photo by Deb Bailey

PANAMA — After ending last year in the best way possible, with a New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D volleyball championship, Panama coach Tammy Hosier has called this campaign “the season of adversity.”

Things have been far from simple for the fifth-seeded Panthers, but Monday evening it looked as though the tide of misfortune was beginning to recede as Hosier’s squad cruised to a 25-18, 25-16, 25-18 win over No. 8 Randolph in Section VI semifinal action.

Panama now sports a record of 17-3-1 and will enter Friday’s 6 p.m. Class D final at Brocton with an ax to grind against No. 2 Maple Grove.

The Panthers were able to post a win at Dutch Hollow Road earlier in the season before falling at home to the eventual Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association South Division champion Red Dragons.

“We’ve just had one thing after another, if somebody different was hurt or whatever. They’ve been working really hard at practice,” Hosier said. “Sometimes that adversity, you know it pumps you up and they’re just playing better and they’re gelling better together, better movement. I’m just hoping that everything is starting to fall back together.”

Panama’s Madalyn Bowen attempts a spike while Randolph’s Sarah Stahley attempts a block during their Section VI Class D semifinal Monday evening in Panama. Photo by Deb Bailey

It certainly looked as though that was the case Monday, with Hosier’s team beginning the night with a service ace by Maci Johnson before Madalyn Bowen and Natalie Angeletti got to work with strong kills to open up an early lead.

Responding for the Cardinals was Jordan Koniak with a kill, but on the ensuing point after both Koniak and Alyssa Adams were able to pick up defensive blocks, Bowen responded with another big spike that would not be returned.

The Panama lead would continue to blossom thanks to a block and a short overhand winner by Natalie Angeletti as the Panthers picked up the first game of the evening.

“We needed to just do the little things,” Randolph coach Robin Maycock said. “We needed to make sure we hit every serve and kept the ball in play. We kind of beat ourselves a little bit, (but) when you are playing a good team like Panama those are the things you can’t do and we let that happen. They can out-hit us, they can out-block us. We just had to make sure that we did every little thing right.”

In the second game of the night it was a series of early hitting errors that plagued Maycock’s team, with Panama taking advantage of the mishits with back-to-back winners by Quinn Payne on a drop-shot and Kylie Schnars with a spike to make it 15-5. Natalie Angeletti would go on to catalyze the offense down the home stretch, picking up three winners including the game’s final point to seal the deal at 25-16.

Panama’s Alexys Marsh attempts to save a ball during Section VI Class D semifinal action against Randolph on Monday evening in Panama. Photo by Deb Bailey

While Randolph struggled with unforced errors during the first two frames of the night, Maycock’s squad certainly went down swinging in the third as the Cardinals opened up a lead at 11-7 after a pair of strikes from Panama missed the mark.

The Panthers were able to keep pace with Randolph through the midway point of the game, finally pulling even with the visitors after Bowen struck a kill to make it 18-18.

From there Panama’s offense once again took over, with spikes by Bowen, Natalie Angeletti and Alexys Marsh showing the way to a 25-18 final.

“We’ve faced a lot of adversity and you know having those couple losses, they’re more determined,” Hosier said. “They know what they can do and what they can’t do. They rallied together.”

NOTES: Bowen’s night would end with 10 digs, 12 kills and an ace; Natalie Angeletti had nine digs, nine kills and four blocks; Schnars had four kills and five blocks; and Maci Johnson had seven digs, 10 points and four aces. … Randolph’s offense was led by Joan Adams with five kills and two blocks; Sarah Stahley totaled 12 assists; and Sydney Hvizdzak had four kills and five digs.