Jefferson Lost Hard Fought Battle to go to Nationals

2018 Jefferson Volleyball Team Photo 3

The Lady Cannoneers went as far as you could possibly go in the regular season only to come up two points short of flying to Minnesota for the National Tournament.  On Saturday in pool play they defeated Genesee Community College 3-0:  25-21, 25-15, and 25-12, then Erie Community College 2-1:  21-25, 25-17, and 25-16, and finally SUNY Broome:  25-18, 25-18, and 20-25.  Going 7-2 on the day put Jefferson 1st in their bracket only to face Jamestown Community College once again in the final match on Sunday.  Jamestown went in 2nd in their pool after losing 4 sets on the day.  For two hours Jefferson battled going back and forth only to come up short in the 5th set:  25-22, 27-29, 25-21, 15-25, and 16-18.  It was an all out battle between these two teams, even in the 5th set, when Jefferson was down 5-12 they never stopped playing.  Jefferson got a side out to make it 6-12, Maggie went back to serve, Jamestown hit the ball out and then on the next point Jefferson put up a block to bring us to 8-12.  Jamestown got a kill on the next point making it 8-13, and another kill to bring set 5 to 8-14.  Coach Kolenda was out of time-outs and just urged her team to keep pushing, which they did.  Alyssa Evans got a kill bringing the score to 9-14.  Alexa Runyon had two back to back blocks to bring us to 11-14 and forcing Jamestown to use their final time-out.  Mallory Harter continued the serving run after Jamestown hit the ball out, and to end the next rally the Jamestown setter tipped the ball into the net, bringing Jefferson within 1.  Still, Mal was not rattled under the pressure and served the ball in, Alexa put up yet another block bringing the Cannoneers to a tie 14-14.  Jamestown finally got a kill, giving them match point at 15-14 only to serve the ball out, forcing another tie at 15.  On the next serve Jamestown got a kill giving them match point again at 16-15 and on a perfect pass from Alyssa, Kelsey set the ball to Lex for a kill straight down, tying it up again at 16-16.  On the next serve Jamestown got a kill between our block which gave them the serve.  Jefferson faltered with serve receive and Jamestown finally finished with the win at 16-18.

Although the team came up just 2 points short of a trip to the National Tournament they certainly have a lot to be proud of.  Beating Broome on Saturday was a little bit of redemption for the loss at the confernce tournament and battling the 8th ranked team in the nation to extra points in set 5 sure shows what Jefferson Volleyball is all about.  This is a team that could possibly have 9 returning players for the next season.  So with all of this experience and coming so close, these freshmen have a lot to look forward to.  Mallory and Alexa will leave big shoes to fill, these two girls have shown this young team just how far you can go if you are determined and willing to work hard.  Alexa Runyon finished the weekend by being named to the 1st Team All-Region as well as the All-Tournament Team, she compiled 36 kills, 19 blocks, and had 6 aces.  Mallory Harter finished the weekend by being named to the All-Tournament Team and compiling 41 service points and 60 digs.  Kelsey Finster was also named to the All-Tournament team for her relentless urging of her team to just keep pushing, as the setter she certainly filled the leadership role out on the court.  Kelsey finished the weekend with 34 digs, 120 assists, and 25 service points.  Marjorie Vazquez kept the team alive with so many diving saves or smart hits at the net and was named to the 2nd Team All-Region, she finished with 30 kills, 10 blocks, 77 digs, and 17 service points.  Alyssa Evans continued to do what she always does, make big plays when we need her!  She ended with 24 kills and 18 digs.  Allison Burrows once again remained steady and served 52 times and didn't miss a single serve.  She rallied this team on defense right along side Mal, compiling 69 digs and 32 kills.  Grace Gehrke did what she had to do and never once backed down, she added 8 blocks and 12 kills.  Nicole O'Connor had a strong weekend and was the force behind our win in set 3 against Jamestown with her steady serving.  She served 38 times this weekend and never missed once, she also compiled 19 digs and 21 service points.  Sara Archer added 6 service points and 5 digs and was a solid force in the back row.  Savanna Baker finished with 5 service points and 5 digs respectively and kept this team focused at all times.

This Jefferson squad may not have done what they set out to do which was to put another banner up on the wall in the gym, but they played their hearts out when it mattered most, and for anyone who was in that gym or watching on-line, that will never be disputed.  This team made a statement to the region, and made every single family member, friend, and coach so proud of them for their dedication, hard work, and commitment.  A sad end to a magical 26-8 season, but one worthy of a whole lot of pride.