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Falconer Reaches Final Four

Falconer went 4-2 in pool play during the 2010 NYSPHSAA Class C volleyball championships at the Glens Falls Civic Center. P-J file photo

EDITOR’S NOTE: In another edition of the “Remember When” series, the 2010 state champion Falconer volleyball team is featured. Throughout this week, The Post-Journal will be running the Golden Falcons’ final four playoff victories, including its state title contest. Today we continue with the Class C state semifinals.

GLENS FALLS — Sometimes, a smile says it all.

A two-game sweep of Mattituck in the final match of round-robin pool play on Saturday helped the Falconer Lady Golden Falcons of Section VI advance to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association finals for Class C volleyball.

Falconer went 4-2 in pool play and will face Voorheesville of Section II at the Glens Falls Civic Center today at 2 p.m.

When Falconer’s last match went final on Saturday, Coach Darin Kennedy cracked a smile and breathed a huge sigh of relief, knowing he needed to win the final two games after splitting the first four.

Falconer gave itself its first opportunity at a volleyball state title with a 4-2 pool-play record at the 2010 championships in Glens Falls. P-J file photo

“We knew Voorheesville or Thomas Edison had to sweep (to advance),” Kennedy said. “Voorheesville did sweep, we knew we had to sweep and we did. I was a little nervous, but the volleyball gods had something to say about it, too.”

It was a shaky start for the Lady Golden Falcons, who dropped one game to Thomas A. Edison and one game to Voorheesville, before coming back in both matches to settle for splits.

“We just didn’t serve-receive well, so we came out a little shaky,” Kennedy said. “We didn’t make passes off the serve very well to get into system so we couldn’t really out-attack those teams like we should have.”

With the match on the line, it was Falconer’s big trio of Ashley Gunnell, Corri Hannon and Cherise Gunnell that stepped up to push the Lady Golden Falcons into the state finals.

It certainly came as no surprise to Kennedy that when those three were playing well, the whole team responded. The end result was a much-needed sweep with the fate of their season on the line.

“I think Ashley had 47 or 48 kills on the day and Corri had I think 33,” Kennedy said. “Cherise had 53 assists setting and that’s been our strength all year. We did that fairly well, but a couple of teams handled our serve well.”

Competition opened for the Lady Golden Falcons against Edison. The first game was a 25-11 win for the squad from Section IV, but that didn’t mean the Lady Golden Falcons were going to roll over and give their opponent the inside track at the No. 1 seed for Sunday.

Falconer responded.

A 25-22 win in game two evened the match and set the table for a strong performance the rest of the way for the Lady Golden Falcons.

It was much of the same in the second match when Falconer battled Voorheesville. The first game went to the Lady Blackbirds, 25-15, but the Lady Golden Falcons came right back with a win of their own, picking up a 25-18 win in game two.

That put Falconer at 2-2 on the day and right on the fringe of advancing to the state finals.

“I just said play to win,” Kennedy said. “Don’t go out there and play not to make mistakes — play to win. They went out and they put some attack on them. We could get in system and we felt we could really serve-receive that team well. We served them out of system a lot and because of those two things, that’s what did it.”

Sophomores Shannon Gunnell and libero Makalia Haveron stepped up and played key roles for Falconer, complementing solid performances from seniors Leslie Bianco and Kendra Brown.

They faced a little adversity early on in the afternoon, but with their season on the line, the Lady Golden Falcons played their best. In the end they earned a spot in the finals where they will face the Lady Blackbirds of Section II.

Falconer will have less than 24 hours to regroup before taking the court for its first ever chance at a state volleyball title.

“There’s nothing we can work on in just a day, but there are things we can correct,” Kennedy said. “That is chatter early, loud and often, and follow our traffic rules; but they’re a solid team.”

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