High schools

Black­birds face Can­ton Satur­day in their sixth re­gional fi­nal in 8 years

Albany Times Union - - SPORTS - By Ja­son Franchuk ▶ jfranchuk@time­sunion.com

Voorheesville vol­ley­ball bonds through song as it hits stride in post­sea­son./b5

The Voorheesville girls’ vol­ley­ball team is happy to bring some at­ten­tion to Christ­mas.

That’s the genre of school-bus mu­sic that often gets crooned on the way to matches, or af­ter wins.

The en­ter­tain­ment draws laughs from Black­bird play­ers and a “too soon” from their coach.

What’s not too soon, though, is how Ash­ley Turski’s team has hit its stride. It has steam­rolled into a sixth re­gional fi­nal in eight years Satur­day — play­ing Sec­tion X’s Can­ton at Massena High School at 3 p.m. — thanks to some strong vet­er­ans and a steady stream of younger play­ers that have fig­ured out how to up­hold the tra­di­tions.

“This year, re­al­is­ti­cally, our first three ro­ta­tions are ba­si­cally the same as last year,” Turski said. “Other kids have stepped up and moved into the other roles.”

The com­bi­na­tion of serv­ing and power at the net again has set the stage for Voorheesville through the Colo­nial Coun­cil and the rest of Class C.

That was ex­tremely ev­i­dent Tuesday in a re­gional semi­fi­nal against Saranac Lake. Voorheesville took it in four sets, fin­ish­ing the rout with a 25-2 land­slide. Yeah, you read that right: Voorheesville al­lowed two points.

Se­nior Marie Ju­lian, a se­nior, went on a 13-point run that in­cluded some de­fen­sive as­sis­tance from play­ers like mid­dle blocker Vic­to­ria Kon­icki.

Voorheesville lost stand­out hit­ter Emily Bablin to grad­u­a­tion, while her sis­ter, Katy, is a ju­nior that helped lead the team to states last year. A boost has come from fresh­man Jada Ak­ers, who shares ro­ta­tion time at set­ter.

“It’s a credit to all of the pas­sion we have within vol­ley­ball sea­son,” Ju­lian said, not­ing that a few of them play year-round to­gether.

Kon­icki noted the team sings a lot (Christ­mas car­ols and Mariah Carey are big hits) to get ready. “It’s ter­ri­ble,” the coach jokes. For all of their past years’ suc­cesses, the Black­birds didn’t know if they be­longed to­gether in the early stages of this fall. They lost five of their first seven matches, capped by a Sept. 20 five-set de­feat to Colo­nial Coun­cil ri­val Holy Names (“Re­ally hard to lose to them,” Kon­icki said). There was also a four-set loss to fel­low peren­nial state con­tender Lake Ge­orge, plus a tour­na­ment in Queens­bury that made the Black­birds re­al­ize they had a lot of work to do.

“We took some re­ally good lumps and bruises,” Turski said. “But we also learned some­thing each time.”

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