T’Birds On Top
Waters Helps Chautauqua Lake Past MG For D2 West Lead
MAYVILLE — Coming into Wednesday’s Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 2 West volleyball match, both Chautauqua Lake and Maple Grove were undefeated in league play. The highly anticipated contest was an opportunity for each team to assert itself as the best in the division.
It did not take long for the powerhouse that is Chautauqua Lake to prove itself the superior team as the Thunderbirds swept the Red Dragons in three sets 25-16, 25-20 and 25-20.
In the opening set, Chautauqua Lake (6-0, 6-0) built a lead that it would not relinquish in the very early going when a six-point swing gave the Thunderbirds a 7-1 lead. Maple Grove (5-3, 5-1) attempted to battle back into the match, but it struggled to put together consecutive points against the strong Chautauqua Lake defense.
“I think our defense is finally starting to get where I want it to be,” Chautauqua Lake head coach Joanne Meadows stated. “The kids are really reading other offenses well and that made a difference for us tonight. Maple Grove is obviously very good. Playing them another time is going to be another thing to work on. I think in the first set especially we played pretty flawless defense.”
The Chautauqua Lake defense continued to be a theme throughout the night as it stole many for-sure points from Maple Grove. No matter the situation, the defensive effort was always there from the Thunderbirds and it was on full display with many diving digs. Standing out among her teammates was Jenna Waters who made 26 digs and the next closest Thunderbird was Ava Olson with 10.
“Every point is important to them,” Meadows said about her team. “As a coach, I couldn’t ask them to give a better effort than they do. There were some plays that probably should have scored against us and they just don’t quit.”
Maple Grove’s best opportunity for a victory came in the second set when it began to string together consecutive points. The Red Dragons started off scoring the first five points before going cold and losing the lead to fall behind 15-9.
That setback did not stop Maple Grove from getting set straight again to chase Chautauqua Lake until the very end. When down 16-11, Maple Grove rattled off four points in a row to force a timeout. Then down 20-16 the Red Dragons once again scored four in a row to tie things at 20-20.
“I like that my team never gives up,” Maple Grove head coach Ardelle Rambacher stated. “They have a never-give-up attitude, they’re so fun to coach because of that. I’m proud of them tonight because that’s what they gave me. They respect Chautauqua Lake and they always will respect Chautauqua Lake because it’s just a fantastic program.”
The late push from Maple Grove forced another Chautauqua Lake timeout, but this break gave the Thunderbirds the break they needed as they dashed away the comeback with five points in a row to win 25-20.
“They never feel like they’re going to lose,” Meadows said about the Thunderbirds’ mentality. “Regardless of score they don’t lose confidence in themselves or in each other. Our goal is to never let anyone score more than three in a row and it did happen tonight. My kids just have confidence in each other and feel like they’re going to win.”
Chautauqua Lake’s run from the end of the second set carried over and saw it jump out to a 13-4 lead as Maple Grove struggled to get points against the stingy defense.
After a Maple Grove timeout, the Red Dragons continued to climb back in by preventing the Thunderbirds from going on anymore big runs. A late push saw Maple Grove bring the score as close as 21-19 before Chautauqua Lake closed out with another strong finish for a 25-20 victory and sole position atop Division 2 West.
“We were so excited to see them today, because we know and respect how good Chautauqua Lake is,” Rambacher stated. “I told the girls this is a night we’ve been preparing for. Chautauqua Lake is a scrappy team. It will always be well coached, it’s just a game you always look forward to playing.”
The Maple Grove effort was led by Eliza Dawes with 11 kills and five digs; Rachal King added two blocks; Megan Lockwood had five digs; Hayley Johnson recorded three kills and Erin Mansfield had 12 assists and two digs.
Chautauqua Lake’s record stayed perfect thanks to Hannah Group with seven kills and two digs; Alex Reyda had five kills and two blocks; Mallory Morrison added two kills, three aces, four digs, 12 assists and one block; Olson scored two kills, two aces, 10 digs, six assists and a block, while Waters added three aces to her 26 digs.