Make it three in a row for the Williamsville East High School girls volleyball team.
The Flames claimed their third consecutive Class A Far West Regional championship in convincing fashion on Thursday night, rolling to a 25-16, 25-21, 25-17 win over West Irondequoit at Daemen College.
“It’s amazing,” senior setter Makayla Greenfield said. “We’ve been putting in so much extra work and we knew coming in that they’re a great team. We knew coming in that we were going to have to play our very best and I think we really bought into that tonight. We played with a ton of energy and played our game.”
The Flames appeared in their fifth straight regional final – and finally faced a Section V opponent other than Pittsford Sutherland. The Knights dropped the Section VI championship game to the young Eagles, who seemed to be here to stay with just three seniors on a 19-player roster. But that youth may have pushed the advantage towards the battle-tested Flames.
“We are a very similar team to West Irondequoit,” Williamsville East coach Scott Wright said. “It’s just our three captains are juniors and seniors and I think that leadership really showed tonight. It can be the little things like their bus being a little late because of the weather. That’s tough for a young team to respond to something like that.”
Williamsville East’s three captains – seniors Greenfield and Allie Jozwiak and junior Rachel Steffan – led an impressive three game sweep for the Flames in the regionals. Will East controlled the first set and won 25-16 but West Irondequoit came out firing in the second set. The Eagles held a 21-19 lead but the Flames scored the final six points and then won comfortably in set 3.
“Our girls just remained calm,” Wright said. “We started hard against Niagara-Wheatfield and then we hit a big lull (in a four-set win in the Section VI championship match). It was just a workmanlike performance today where we just kept grinding and grinding.”
The Flames will play in the NYSPHSAA state tournament on Saturday and Sunday at the Cool Insuring Arena (Glens Falls Civic Center). The goal is the long-elusive state championship.
“We’ve been working hard in the gym and we keep getting better and better,” Greenfield said. “I think we’re ready for the state championships.”
In the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader, Section VI champion Clarence was not as fortunate in the Class AA far West Regional. The Red Devils dropped a hard-fought 25-21, 15-25, 25-19, 25-18 match against Section V’s Victor.
“Victor’s a great team,” Clarence coach Michael Meyer said, “They’ve got a superstar in No. 8 (senior senior outside hitter Amanda Drake) and a bunch of other athletes around her and they play great defense. We’re also a pretty good team. You could see the games go back and forth.”