Knocks Off Chautauqua Lake In Class D Far West Regional
LEROY — The Pavilion Golden Gophers’ reputation precedes them.
Junior middle hitter Lauren Kingsley and fellow junior outside hitter Karlee Zinkievich stand out on video.
They also stood out in person at LeRoy Jr.-Sr. High School on Saturday.
Just ask the Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds.
Kingsley had 12 kills, eight digs and a block while Zinkievich added four kills and 10 digs as Pavilion kept an undefeated, dream season alive with a 25-23, 25-10, 26-24 sweep of Chautauqua Lake in the Class D Far West Regional in suburban Rochester.
“I didn’t know how good we could be,” Pavilion head coach Rex Eighmey said. “Four of these girls have been together for four years. … They just play year-round.”
The Golden Gophers, who improved to 25-0 and have not lost a set this season, advanced to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final Four next weekend at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls.
The Thunderbirds, on the other hand, suffered their first loss after 17 straight victories.
“These girls are so supportive of each other and of me,” longtime Chautauqua Lake head coach Joanne Meadows said. “This isn’t the ending that we want and it never is unless you win states.”
While Pavilion’s record and Saturday’s sweep suggests Chautauqua Lake did not stand a chance, that simply wasn’t the case.
In fact, The Thunderbirds’ lead grew to as many as four at 19-15 in the first set before several uncharacteristic hitting errors allowed the Golden Gophers back into the match. Chautauqua Lake hit three spikes long and another two into the net as Pavilion went on a 7-1 run to take a 22-20 lead.
“I think when you look across the net and you are outsized like we were a little bit, it’s easy to think we have to change what we’re doing and change our swing,” Meadows said. “When you don’t practice hitting safe or playing like that, it took us out of our game.”
The Thunderbirds did tie the set at 23-all, but back-to-back kills from Kingsley gave the Golden Gophers the important first-set victory.
“We stepped up after we got behind in the first set,” Eighmey said. “That’s by far the toughest team we’ve played all year, it’s not even close.”
Pavilion ran away with the second set, and did it mostly with Zinkievich at the service line. Leading 12-8, Zinkievich took control with a powerful serve that didn’t allow Chautauqua Lake to get into its offense with any regularity. There were no aces during the 10-point run, but Kingsley had four kills and a block as the set went to 22-8 before Zinkievich served long.
“Her serve was tough,” Meadows said. ” … It wasn’t aces, but it got us out of system and it was hard for us to put anything together when your setter isn’t playing the second ball most of the time.”
At 24-10, another hitting error from the Thunderbirds handed a 2-0 lead to the Golden Gophers.
“Their hitters are fast. Their net play is so good,” Meadows said. “It was tough to beat.”
Pavilion got up 7-1 early in the third set, but Chautauqua Lake did not roll over. A Hannah Group kill pulled the Thunderbirds within four at 16-12 and Meadows implored her team to get Group the ball.
“We were trying to get her the ball. She was on fire hitting today,” Meadows said. “I wanted them to get her the ball, but if you are only setting one kid that doesn’t always help your offense either.”
Group then took over service down 21-18 and a few Golden Gophers errors coupled with a Jessica Wiemer block gave the Thunderbirds a 22-21 lead.
But a long serve handed the ball back to Pavilion at 22-all and an Adeline Milligan ace gave the Golden Gophers a 24-22 lead.
Again Chautauqua Lake battled back to tie it 24-all as Pavilion hit a ball into the net, but another Thunderbirds service error and a final kill from Kingsley closed out the match for the Golden Gophers.
“We don’t let the ball hit the floor if we can help it,” Eighmey said. “Attack, attack, attack and serve tough.”
Chautauqua Lake will look to run it back next year with several important pieces, including juniors Jenna Waters, Jenna Harle, Tatem Zemcik, Mallory Morrison and Group, and sophomores Brynn Engdahl and Ava Olson returning.
“In 10 years, what they’re going to remember is they gave everything to each other and everything to the program,” an emotional Meadows said. “They rallied a community behind them. As much as this kind of stinks, what they did for the community and what they did for each other, that’s what’s important.”
NOTES: Milligan had seven kills and two aces; senior Shannon Campbell had 23 assists; and senior Shea Amberger had five kills for Pavilion. … Group led Chautauqua Lake with seven kills to go along with four digs; Wiemer had five kills and two blocks; Olson had four kills, two aces, nine digs and six assists; Waters had a kill, two aces and 15 digs; Morrison had three kills, four digs and eight assists; and senior Lily Woodis had two kills, an ace and a block.