MT. MARKHAM 3, SAUQUOIT VALLEY 0
The Mt. Markham Mustangs may not have gotten the matchup they wanted for Tuesday’s Section III semifinals but they did get what they really wanted — a 3-0 victory and a spot in the Class C title match.
The top-seeded Mustangs, undefeated entering the postseason, were 25-14, 25-16, 25-17 winners against No. 5 Little Falls, a team they had beaten twice in regular season matches. Mt. Markham also beat Little Falls at a tournament Feb. 23 but found the Mounties and senior hitter Mat Armlin to be difficult matchup.
“We didn’t want to see Little Falls in the (semifinals),” Mt. Markham coach Darin Lynch admitted. “Mat’s a tough matchup for any team.”
The Mustangs set their game plan to counter Armlin at the net, hoping to keep him below 10 kills — he put down 11 with three blocks — and upset his timing.
“We wanted to disrupt him,” Lynch said, “get him out of his rhythm.”
While they missed their kills target, the Mustangs succeeded with their overall goal. Zach Brown blocked Armlin twice early in the first game and Mt. Markham led all the way to the final kill by Travis Beach.
Little Falls did not give up the fight. The second and third games were closer but each time the Mustangs pulled away. Warren Salo’s kill broke a 5-all tie in Game 2 and sided out for the Mustangs who ran off four more points with Matt Bleaking at the service line. Salo’s three-point serving run took the score to 14-6 before Little Falls rallied and narrowed the gap to 15-12. The second game was back-and-forth after that with neither team winning more than two consecutive points.
The Mounties had a 3-1 lead early in the final game and led as late as 9-8. Mt. Markham won the next seven points with Salo serving and maintained at least a three-point cushion for the rest of the match. Just as he had in Game 1, Beach put down the final kill to clinch Game 3.
“We played well,” first-year coach Mike Kelly said, “but not well enough. There were things we could have done better (but) you have to tip your hat to Mt. Markham. They’re undefeated and returning sectional champs for a reason.”
The win sends Mt. Markham (17-0) to Canastota Thursday to play in the 5 p.m. championship match against Sauquoit Valley (14-3), the second seed and a 3-0 semifinal winner Tuesday against Westmoreland. Mt. Markham has beaten Sauquoit Valley in the sectional finals the last two years and has also beaten its neighbors twice this season.
“They’re a similar team to us,” Lynch said of the Indians. “They have five or six very good players and they’re the biggest team we play.”
Page 2 of 2 - The Mustangs, winners of 54 consecutive matches over three unbeaten seasons, have a winning tradition on their side entering the final.
“Teamwork and believing in everyone is important to us,” Lynch said. “The last two years we’ve had such good teamwork and these guys have grown up with that. They’ve worked with very good players the last few years. Talent breeds talent and they all push each other.”
Beach had 20 assists, 11 kills and seven digs for Mt. Markham; Bleaking had 20 assists, two aces, two kills and four digs; Mike Gras had 14 dig, eight kills and two aces; Brown had five kills, two blocks, one ace and one assist; Salo had 13 kills, two aces and 13 digs; and Ben Gurtowski had 12 digs, five kills, two blocks and one ace.
Vinny Visconti had 14 assists and one block for Little Falls (9-10); Kyle Barnes had five assists; Mitchell Smith had three kills and one block; David Stephenson had three kills; and Trey Demeree and Michael Izzo each had one kill.
The Class B title match will follow the Class C contest Thursday. Top seed Oneida had a bye into the finals and will meet Syracuse’s Living Word Academy, a 3-2 semifinal winner Tuesday against Vernon-Verona-Sherrill.
Armlin and Izzo will represent Little Falls Sunday afternoon at the Center State Conference’s Exceptional Seniors Match at Sauquoit Valley.
SAUQUOIT VALLEY 3, WESTMORELAND 0
SAUQUOIT, N.Y. — The Sauquoit Valley Indians are heading back to the Section III finals after Tuesday’s 3-0 sweep of Westmoreland in the Class C semifinals.
Sauquoit Valley won 25-16, 25-23, 25-12 for its third victory over the Bulldogs this season.
Two of Sauquoit Valley’s three losses this season were against Mt. Markham, the Indians’ undefeated opponent for Thursday’s championship match. Mt. Markham has beaten Sauquoit valley in the sectional finals the last two years.
Jordan Montgomery had 11 kills, three blocks and one dig for Sauquoit Valley (14-3); Justin Jarecki had 10 kills, one ace and 13 digs; Steve Philpotts had 21 assists and three digs; Harley Wright had 15 digs, one kill and one ace; and Emerson Roberts had 16 assists, four digs and one ace.
Jake Landry had eight kills, one block, two assists and two digs for Westmoreland (9-10); James Marchesani had nine assists and an ace; Andrew Murphy had 15 assists and an assist; and Ryan Bowers had two kills and one block.