It wasn’t about wins or losses Saturday, it just was about getting better. The 16 teams from all over Western New York that made their way to Sweet Home High School for their annual girls’ volleyball tournament, showed there’s a lot of talent in the area.
Even though it didn’t count in the standings, a champion was still crowned. The Orchard Park Quakers took home the hardware after winning the tournament championship game, 2-0 over the Niagara Wheatfield Falcons.
The Quakers rolled through pool play winning six of six sets against Mt. Mercy, Maryvale and Williamsville South, earning them a favorable spot in the championship bracket.
Mount St. Mary’s gave the Quakers a scare in the quarterfinals, holding an 8-8 tie. But Orchard Park eventually pulled away, beating the Thunder 30-24 in a one set match. OP went on to dominate the hosting Panthers beating them 25-14 in the first set and 25-4 in the second in the semifinals.
The quick win was a huge boost as the Quakers got a nice 15-minute or so break heading into the championship game, while waiting for their opponent.
The other semifinal was a highly entertaining game between two evenly matched teams in Niagara Wheatfield and Sacred Heart.
The teams went back and forth as neither side could get more than a three-point lead for most of the first set. Finally, the Falcons broke away at the end getting a 21-16 lead that rolled into a 25-17 win. The second set was just as close as the first. However, it was the Sharks who took a 15-14 lead, that they carried to a 25-20 win.
Niagara Wheatfield got an 8-5 early lead in the third set. However, the Sharks fought back too and took a 13-12 lead. The two teams went back and forth again until the Falcons pulled the out a 17-15 third set victory to advance to the finals against Orchard Park.
In the championship game, the Falcons were clearly fatigued after going toe-to-toe with Sacred Heart. Still N-W fought, overcoming early deficits to tie OP at 15 in both sets. But the Quakers came away with the win.
The Falcons are currently undefeated this season (in non-tournament play). According to head coach Brandi Cochran, her team dealt with a few injuries today but persisted through them.
“My girls fought all the way to the end,” Cochran said. “I think that fight will get us through league matches. I put these girls in a bunch of different positions and they came out and almost took the championship. We’re better because we played that match.”
Orchard Park head coach Greg Lardo was impressed with the way his team played thoughout the day and credited Saturday’s success to their depth.
“Our girls stuck to it,” Lardo said. “Usually, teams are gassed at the end of tournaments, but we got better as the day went on. We have a really deep team.”
Williamsville North, North Tonawanda, Chautauqua Lake, Frontier, Alden, Kenmore West, Hutch Tech, and Attica also participated in the tournament.