GLENS FALLS — The Southwestern girls volleyball team knew its season would come to an end in Glens Falls at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships.
However, the best girls athletic season in Southwestern school history came to a quicker end than the girls had hoped for. The Trojans’ season came to a close as Class B semifinalists thanks to a sweep by Section IV’s Lansing 25-19, 25-12, 31-29 on Saturday at Cool Insuring Arena.
“So it was the first girls team from Southwestern to make it to states,” Southwestern head coach Alexis Johnson said about her team. “It was such a big deal for us. It was such a honor to go. Our school really put on a show for us. We knew it was a big deal from the moment we found out we were going because everybody had our back so much.”
Facing elimination after dropping its first two sets, Southwestern decided to play its best volleyball in the third set, running a marathon with Lansing.
“That was everything they had,” Johnson said about her team in the final set. “They wanted to be here so bad, they worked so hard that they left everything on the court. I know how hard they worked. It’s upsetting. It hurts to lose here, especially on day one, but we knew it was possible because they’re great teams.”
The Trojans and the Bobcats traded blows with one another, forcing timeouts by each side in hopes to save the match. Lansing had Southwestern on the brink of elimination three times before finally closing them out on a three-point run 31-29.
“I think they knew the stakes at hand,” Johnson said about the Trojans’ approach to the third set. “When they turn it on, we’re great, but sometimes they get in their heads a little bit. I think that we knew that was our last chance, so they fought until the end. That shows a lot about them. That shows how hard they wanted it and how hard they were going to fight.”
Southwestern’s battle in the third set came a lot from the seniors who were able to close out their careers going farther than any girls team in school history. Lauren Cotter finished the game with 15 kills, two aces, six digs and a block; Jaidyn Newhouse scored 11 kills and added a block; and McKenna Bogdanowicz made five digs.
“The seniors it’s going to hit the hardest,” Johnson said about the season ending. “They fought so hard today and all season. I think it’s OK to go out against a team like that (Lansing). It’s not ideal, but we knew our season was going to end this weekend. What we’re upset about is not being together everyday anymore, but it’s not anything to hang your heads about to lose to one of the top teams in the state.”
Southwestern’s best set came after its worst set of the season where it looked like it had no chance against the Bobcats out of Section IV. The Trojans gave away a lot of free points in the second set, something that team’s certainly pay for at the state championships.
“They were a fast-pace team,” Johnson said of Lansing. “They were a really smart team, so they saw us get upset and capitalized on that in the second set. In the third set, we regrouped a little bit, we pulled ourselves together and fought to the end.”
Lansing scored a huge eight-point run in the beginning of the second set that really set the tone and forced a Southwestern timeout. Soon thereafter was a five-point run, then a four-point run and the Trojans were not able to put together anything offensively.
The second set was out of the ordinary for the Trojans and it ended up costing them. The first set didn’t go Southwestern’s way, but the Trojans were in it until the very end.
Orchestrating a lot of Southwestern’s success on the night was Bella Sirianni who collected 22 assists, an ace and five digs; and Payton Swartz, who added another five digs and an ace.
Coming this far, the loss was difficult for the Trojans to take, but they leave Glens Falls going farther than any girls team in school history.
“Lauren, I’ve never seen her cry before,” Johnson added about her seniors. “She’s usually a tough cookie and she’s got the most jokes out of anyone I’ve ever met. It’s hard to see them upset like this. Jaidyn and McKenna too. They gave everything they had today, they have all season. They love volleyball more than anything in the world and they just wanted to have a good last season and I’m happy we could give it to them because I think coming to states is something they’ll remember forever. I’m happy we made it this far. I know that they’re upset in the locker room right now, but that will fade and the memory of coming to states will stay forever.”
Lansing proved that its semifinal win was no fluke as it swept Section III’s Westhill in the championship match on Sunday.