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High School Girls Volleyball: Frontier serves up O.P.’s first loss, before hosting 24-team tourney

Megan McCarthy (right) and Eden fell to Mercy of Rochester in last year’s Eden Raiders Volleyball Invitational. They’ll host the 2012 event on Saturday, Sept. 29. (File photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Frontier’s players had to be back to school by 7 a.m. Saturday morning just hours after playing the night before to help prepare for a huge 24-team tournament. Despite naturally being drained by the quick turnaround, there were some happy faces among the returning players.

The Falcons came into their host tournament as winners of a grueling five-set match over Orchard Park in a rematch of last year’s Class AA championship. Frontier handed the Quakers their first loss of the season and moved into a second-place tie with them in an ECIC Division I even tougher than in most seasons.

“I’m proud of the girls’ resiliency,” said Frontier head coach Debby Schruefer. “To be in that long of a match and then be back the next morning to make sure everything is ready for the tournament isn’t easy.”

Junior setter Syd Rojek led the Falcons through the back-and-forth contest, helping them claw back from 2-1 down. After falling 25-19 in Game 1, winning the second game in 25-22 and falling 25-17 in Game 3, Frontier earned 26-24 and 25-19 wins to pull out the match.

Rojek passed away from Orchard Park’s double block, giving Frontier hitters better opportunities, while the Falcons back row excelled in running down balls and keeping points alive, according to Schruefer.

Maddie Karwas was among several Frontier hitters to provide strong play. She finished with 12 kills. Amanda Michels, McKyla Brooks and Rachel Stephenson also played well at hitter, while the fine back row play was supported by Lyndsey Kaznowski and Kaitlyn Long.

“It was extremely competitive. Both teams have a lot of respect for each other,” Schreufer said. “I think O.P. only has two seniors, and only had one last year, so they’re young and brought most of their players back. They’re tall, strong and athletic.”

Neither the Falcons nor their opponent from the night before showed any ill effects from the long match at the Frontier Tournament. The Falcons advanced to the championship bracket’s final eight, while Orchard Park mustered up the energy to advance to the tournament final, where the Quakers lost to returning champion Mercy of Rochester.

“For both teams to come back the next day shows a lot,” Schruefer said. “Sometimes when the home school plays the night before, they’re on automatic pilot during their tournament, but our girls did an outstanding job.”

Also making the tournament’s Gold Bracket were locals Hamburg and Immaculata, which in addition to exhibiting their solid play got to show off their schools. All three of the Hamburg high schools, along with Frontier Middle School, held a bracket of pool play. Schruefer said hre coaching staff, as well as the ones at Immaculata and Hamburg, did a fine job in helping graciously host.

“There was a lot of good teamwork,” Schruefer said. “It was neat for the community to get to showcase all three schools.”

Making this season even tougher in ECIC I is Hamburg’s move up from Division II, Lancaster looking more like the team that won so many titles during the early 2000s and Class A defending champion Williamsville North starting unbeaten so far to hold on to first place.

This week gets no easier for Frontier as it took on Lancaster on Sept. 25 then hosts Hamburg on Thursday, Sept. 27.

Immaculata improved to 6-0 with a 3-0 sweep of Cardinal O’Hara on Thursday (Sept. 20). Also on Sept. 27, the Bears will play host to defending State Catholic champion St. Mary’s in a rematch of last year’s Monsignor Martin title game.

North Collins got back on track last week, sweeping Sherman to improve to 4-1 on the season. Christine Blidy led the Eagles with 20 assists, while Jasmine Filkov added six kills and Nicole Torrey contributed five kills and five serving aces. The Eagles are now in second place in CCAA Division IV. The junior varsity also stated the season 4-1.

Two locals will be hosting tournaments this weekend. The Eden girls will host its annual tournament on Saturday, Sept. 29 with a 16-team field, which includes last year’s tournament champion St. Mary’s. That same day, Lake Shore will also host its inaugural volleyball tournament featuring an eight-team field.

“There’s lot of good volleyball being played around Western new York; hopefully people will come out to see it,” Schruefer said.

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