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Cougars cruise

Cassadaga Valley takes down Dunkirk in three sets

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Cassadaga Valley’s Heidi Williams (9) returns a volley in the Lady Cougar’s three set sweep of the Dunkirk Lady Marauders in Dunkirk on Monday night.

After showing life in the first set with a big rally the Lady Marauders volleyball team against tough division opponent Cassadaga Valley, Dunkirk (3-1, 2-1) looked poised to win the set, but ultimately dropped it 25-22. In the very important second set, the Lady Marauders attempted to mount a comeback as they rallied, but it was all for not as the Lady Cougars matched Dunkirk’s rally, powering to a two set lead and eventual three set victory.

The Cassadaga Valley Lady Cougars (2-2, 2-0) volleyball team traveled to Dunkirk for a divisional game and they did not disappoint, beating the Lady Marauders 25-22, 25-15, 25-16 for the 3-0 Section VI CCAA North victory at Dunkirk High School, on Monday night.

In the first set, the Lady Cougars were the first team to take control as they took advantage of Dunkirk errors, at one point jumping to a 10-3 lead. In the face of a big deficit on their home turf, the Lady Marauders took the first timeout in an effort to slow the Lady Cougars. The Lady Marauders timeout proved to be quite effective, as it slowed the pace of Cassadaga Valley seeing them commit errors of their own.

The Lady Cougars lead began to dwindle after they looked to win the first set by a large margin, but the Lady Marauders did not want to give up anything easy on their home court.

“We’ve done that multiple times,” Dunkirk head coach Kate Stahlman said referring to coming back from a big deficit. “One of our strong points was that our girls were able to come together as a team and were able bring it back like that. Once they come together and have that mindset that they’re gonna do it, they usually just go right for it and get it done.”

Dunkirk’s comeback was felt by the Lady Cougars when the score reached 20-16 still in favor of Cassadaga Valley, causing them to call a timeout in an effort to gather themselves and close out the set. The timeout was not as effective as the Dunkirk one called earlier, as the Lady Marauders battled to within one point, trailing 23-22. Unfortunately for Dunkirk, their comeback would not be fulfilled as they surrendered the next two points, losing 25-22.

“Well it was our first league match of the year,” stated Cassadaga Valley head coach Denny Wakelee. “So the girls were a little nervous and I think that first set they had a little bit of jitters, but once they settled down… started playing our game I think they kind of got their heads together and ended up getting the win for us.”

The second set played out nearly identical to the first, seeing the Lady Cougars jump out to another early lead. Dunkirk trailed 11-6, then Jessica Beehler stepped up to the service line. Beehler gave the Lady Marauders exactly what they needed, powering them to a five point run with two aces, making it 11-10 Cassadaga Valley.

Unlike the first set, Cassadaga Valley immediately matched the strong play of Dunkirk by going on a run of their own, getting up to a 18-10 lead. The Lady Cougars continued that runs momentum and ran away with the lead for an eventual 25-15 victory.

“The first set we had ten attacking errors alone,” stated Coach Wakelee. “We gave the ball away way too many times — way too many points. And in the second one we dropped it down to five [attacking errors]. So we cut that part in half, which is not only big for the score, but also for morale.”

In the third set, neither side seized the lead in the early going. The Lady Cougars score was first to reach double-digits and when it did they began to run away with the lead. In the final set the Lady Cougars showed no sign of losing their lead as they powered to a final of 25-16.

“I love playing against other challenging teams,” stated Coach Stahlman. “Because then it challenges my players as well and it kind of helps them learn from their mistakes.”

The Lady Cougars were led to victory by Meghan LeBaron with four kills, four blocks and two aces; Heidi Williams with seven kills and three digs; Abby DuBois with five aces and two kills; and Kaitlyn Dahl with 17 assists, three digs and one ace.

“I liked that the front row was getting a lot of blocks,” Coach Wakelee said about his team’s performance. “Dunkirk had a couple good hitters so we were able to get a few blocks, that was nice. I still want to work on our first pass, our serve receive. We’re not getting it to the center as much as we need to, that’ll help open up the offense a lot more.”

Dunkirk’s effort was led by Beehler with six aces, three hits and three blocks; Amari Carter with one hit and four blocks; and Nadara O’Dell with five hits and two blocks.

“Communication is one,” Coach Stahlman said about what her team needs to work on. “Also not getting mad at themselves, I know they get really hard on themselves and they need to learn that everyone makes mistakes. Once you come together and build that resilience — that’s when they’re able to pull through and make it happen.”

Cassadaga Valley is back in action on Wednesday when they host Silver Creek. Dunkirk will look to get back in the win column on Wednesday as they travel to Pine Valley.

“I liked that the front row was getting a lot of blocks,” Coach Wakelee said about his team’s performance. “Dunkirk had a couple good hitters so we were able to get a few blocks, that was nice. I still want to work on our first pass, our serve receive. We’re not getting it to the center as much as we need to, that’ll help open up the offense a lot more.”

Dunkirk’s effort was led by Beehler with six aces, three hits and three blocks; Amari Carter with one hit and four blocks; and Nadara O’Dell with five hits and two blocks.

“Communication is one,” Coach Stahlman said about what her team needs to work on. “Also not getting mad at themselves, I know they get really hard on themselves and they need to learn that everyone makes mistakes. Once you come together and build that resilience — that’s when they’re able to pull through and make it happen.”

Cassadaga Valley is back in action on Wednesday when they host Silver Creek. Dunkirk will look to get back in the win column on Wednesday as they travel to Pine Valley.

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