WNY Athletics

Jacks Win Gut-check Game

It was the kind of game that shows you just what you are made of. And the Lumberjacks are made up of some pretty sturdy stock.

Brandon Casterline had 11 kills and provided the much-needed emotional lift as No.2-seeded North Tonawanda beat No.7 West Seneca West in a wild Section VI Division II-A quarter final volleyball match that was played at the Alumni-Student Activity Center at North Tonawanda High School Tuesday night.

The win vaults NT into the semifinals that will be played on Saturday.

“This was by far Brandon’s best game that I’ve ever seen him play in his high school career,” said NT coach Luke Hodgson.

“He was so focused and he led. He actually led not just by example or by athleticism, but with his charisma and what he was saying to the guys.”

Dropping two of the first three games (25-18, 23-25 and 19-25) it was clear that the Jacks were feeling the effects of missing two starters.

The Indians, led by 6-foot-6 captain Ian Barker (20 kills), took charge early as their powerful serves had the Jacks reeling.

Jumping to a 4-1 lead in game four it appeared to be a matter of time before the visitors would pull off the upset. But the Jacks, and their raucous band of classmates in the stands, simply weren’t ready to give up.

“They’re a physical team,” said West Seneca West coach Brett Widman. “I think once they got hot it was tough to stop them.”

Setter Jordan Fox (33 assists) found his flow distributing the ball and Chris Pauline (11 kills) was all over the floor as he turned in his best game of the season.

“We’ve been trying to get Chris in there because we knew he could do it,” said Hodgson.
Played at a furious pace, both teams played each point as if it were the last one of the season.

“Honestly it was one of the hardest fought matches we’ve had to fight through,” said Chris Pauline.

There is no denying that it was the passionate play of Casterline (five blocks) who kept the Jacks believing they’d win. Even when they were down 17-11 in game five the Jacks didn’t fold because Casterline wouldn’t let them.

“He made it happen with his attitude,” Pauline said.

Casterline, meanwhile, felt he was just doing his job. Nothing more.

“I just tried to keep the guys up because we all know what we can do,” Casterline said.

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