Chautauqua Lake rallies past Candor in state semifinals

Chautauqua Lake celebrates after scoring the winning point in the decisive fifth set in the Class D state semifinal against Section IV's Candor at Cool Insuring Arena on Saturday. OBSERVER Photo by Christian Storms

GLENS FALLS — Momentum is everything in volleyball.

After an epic collapse in the first game of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Class D semifinals against Section IV’s Candor, Chautauqua Lake looked out of sorts in the second set and found itself one loss away from the end of the season on Saturday night.

But all it took was one win.

Chautauqua Lake came out ready for the third set, jumping on Candor early, and then it never looked back. The Thunderbirds won, forcing a fourth set and it was game over from there.

The Thunderbirds rallied back from down 2-0, winning three consecutive sets with the season on the line 23-25, 12-25, 25-17, 25-14, 15-12, to advance to the Class D state final at Cool Ensuring Arena on Sunday.

Chautauqua Lake rushes the floor after advancing to the Class D state final. OBSERVER Photo by Christian Storms

“I just reminded them to remember who they are,” Chautauqua Lake head coach Joanne Meadows said about the comeback. “We’re not a way up and way down kind of team. Of course, going into states they started out with this big surge of adrenaline and it wasn’t something we could maintain. Coming down from that loss took the wind out of our sails in the second set. It just took a second for them to remember who we are and that’s not how we play. It’s to relax and control our tempo on our side and play how we know we can play. Once they remembered that and controlled their emotions, it really helped out.”

From the start of the night it looked like Chautauqua Lake was the better team as it controlled the opening set, even jumping to an 18-9 lead. But all it took was one big run by Candor to seize the momentum.

Candor scored eight points in a row to pull within one point of Chautauqua Lake and even though the Thunderbirds led, it looked like just a matter of time before Candor took the opening set.

Chautauqua Lake nearly had the first set won, then in the blink of an eye it found itself down 1-0 and it clearly had an impact on the players performance in the second set.

Candor dominated the second set, Chautauqua Lake managed consecutive points just three times throughout en route to a lopsided 25-12 loss.

Chautauqua Lake senior Ava Olson returns a ball over the net in the fifth set of the Class D state semifinal. OBSERVER Photo by Christian Storms

However, Chautauqua Lake finished that set with a three-point run, which proved as a reminder the Thunderbirds belonged in that match.

Regaining that confidence Chautauqua Lake controlled the entire third set, it was never in doubt the Thunderbirds would play a fourth. Then just like Chautauqua Lake, Candor hit a low in confidence in the fourth set as it could get nothing going in the 25-14 loss.

Just like it was only a matter of time for Candor to come back and win the first set, it was only a matter of time for Chautauqua Lake to finish off the comeback. The Thunderbirds once again stayed in front the entire fifth set to win 15-12, booking a date with Section II’s Lake George in the Class D final on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

“We’re small,” Meadows said about her team. “We’re not big, we’re not going to dominate anyone with our height at the net. What we dominate with is playing controlled volleyball and I think once they get back into that role of playing control volleyball then we do kind of dominate.”

Ava Olson led the comeback with 10 kills, two aces, 20 digs, 20 assists and two blocks; Brynn Engdahl scored 11 kills, 11 digs and three aces; Karagan Fairbank made 14 assists, 12 digs and two kills; Bre Smith potted six kills and four aces; Noli Paddock had seven kills, seven digs and two blocks; Makenna Smith pulled out eight digs and two aces; Alice Scarpine reeled in 17 digs and Jeanine Group added six kills.

Chautauqua Lake senior Brynn Engdahl hits the ball during the third set of the state semifinal against Candor on Saturday. OBSERVER Photo by Christian Storms


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