I'm not too big on appetizers. I'm more of a main-course kind of guy.
I'll make an exception for Tuesday's non-league volleyball match between Mayfield and Johnstown, though.
I can't think of another match that could whet my appetite for sectionals like this regular-season finale. We have the Lady Bills, the team that went to the final four of the state tournament last year, and the Lady Panthers, who have lost once this season outside of tournament play.
This match has added layer of interest with two Mayfield grads leading the Lady Bills into the Mayfield gym on senior night.
Johnstown head coach Michele Robinson and assistant coach Kirsten Belknap both played for Mayfield. Both played under Lady Panthers coach Eileen Rovito when she was in charge of the junior varsity program.
Rovit's Lady Panthers won their first 16 games this season, 13 in the Western Athletic Conference, before getting swept by Saratoga Catholic (12-5 overall, 10-4 WAC) Friday. Spa won the WAC Tournament in Canajoharie a day later, but not before Mayfield swept the Lady Saints in two games of pool play, 25-19 and 25-23.
In the loss to Spa, Mayfield was without Cassi Brancato, who had been setting in the absence of Rebecca Brower. Brower made her return to the court Friday and still was getting back into the swing of things. The Lady Panthers also were without Kacie Edwards in the loss.
Now both Brancato and Edwards are back and Mayfield is getting its final tune-up before the Section II Class D tournament.
That's right, Mayfield is a large Class D this year in volleyball.
Pass the potatoes, the table is set for the Lady Panthers.
Another challenge with everyone on the same court should provide some momentum heading into the postseason. Johnstown is looking for the same.
The Lady Bills lost some key seniors to graduation and face a strong Class B lineup in sectionals. But they've shown they can hang with tough teams when they're on their game.
This season, the Lady Bills are 12-4 overall and 10-4 in the Foothills Council. They recently took league champ South Glens Falls to five games after getting swept by the Bulldogs earlier in the season.
Johnstown also avenged a 3-0 loss on the road in Broadalbin-Perth with a 3-1 win in the Warren Street gym. The Lady Patriots are a worthy adversary this season, when they play with the consistency they've shown in some of their wins. If they harness that for a run in sectionals, they could another local team playing late in the tournament.
Last season, Johnstown used this final match of the season as a springboard into the sectional tournament after a late-season loss to South Glens Falls.
The Lady Bills had won a share of the Foothills Council championship by splitting with South High and sweeping everyone else in the league. They had unfinished business with Mayfield, however.
The Lady Panthers had beaten Johnstown in three games in Mayfield in a Sept. 25, 2007 game, 25-20, 26-24, 25-23. It was the Lady Bills' first loss of the season after a 9-0 start.
When they met again Oct. 24, 2007, Johnstown pulled off a 25-19, 25-21, 25-20 sweep of its own. After the match, Mayfield coach Eileen Rovito gave credit to Johnstown, but admitted her team had played "mediocre volleyball."
Johnstown and Mayfield couldn't fit two matches into the schedule this year, so Tuesday's meeting at Mayfield is the only shot they have at one another in a complete match. They met three times at Saturday tournaments this season, however, with the Lady Bills prevailing in the semifinals of the Fulton-Montgomery Community College Tip-Off Tournament and the finals of the Queensbury Tournament. The two split in pool play at the Schenectady Tournament.
So the Lady Panthers should be coming into Tuesday looking to get a little revenge, much like Johnstown did last year.
As much help as a win can be Tuesday for whichever team manages it, a loss could hurt if the losing team plays mediocre volleyball. For both the Lady Bills and Lady Panthers, this non-leaguer that means absolutely nothing could mean quite a bit.
Bill Cain is a sportswriter for The Leader-Herald. We invite your feedback on this or any other sports-related topic. E-mail your opinions or ideas to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.