By JAMES A. ELLIS
FONDA - Neither Fonda-Fultonville coach Pat Mancini nor Mayfield coach Eileen Rovito knew what to expect from their volleyball teams Monday.
Mayfield’s Whitney Ostrander (26) pushes the ball over the outstretched arms of Fonda-Fultonville’s Sarah Wyzomirski (13) and Taylor Wetsky (8) during Monday’s non-league match at Fonda-Fultonville High School. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
The Lady Braves were coming off a hard-fought Colonial Council match with Voorheesville and the Lady Panthers were idle since the Broadalbin-Perth Tip-Off Tournament on Sept. 3.
What they got was a gutsy, five-set match with Mayfield pulling out the non-league victory 3-2 on scores of 23-25, 25-12, 26-24, 23-25 and 25-18.
"They came alive today. I was proud of them," coach Rovito said. "I really didn't know what to expect because we have been playing a little flat, so there was concern every point of this match. It was great to see that all their preseason work is paying off and they were able to transfer it to a game situation, which they did not do at the tip-off tournament. I am really proud of them."
Although Fonda-Fultonville has been able to get on the court for competition, it has been challenging to work on some components of the game.
"It has been a busy week with everything even though it is just Monday," coach Mancini said. "We have not had a practice since last Tuesday because of the flooding and then league matches. We have four matches this week, so we will get one practice in on Wednesday. We will play 13 of our 20 games in September and all of our non-league games are in September."
Fonda-Fultonville (0-3 overall, 0-2 Colonial Council) got off to a quick start behind a strong service run from Taylor Wetsky before Mayfield's Emily Frasier put together an eight-point, three-ace run to give the Lady Panthers (1-0 overall, 0-0 Western Athletic Conference) a 15-9 advantage.
However, the Lady Braves put together a series of short service runs and timely side-outs to tie the match at 20.
The teams exchanged leads until Fonda-Fultonville's Cory Lais served the final two points and Alexa Mancini put the winning point on the floor for a 25-23 victory.
Mayfield came back to win the second set 25-12 behind strong service runs and net play from Whitney Ostrander and Frasier, but the Lady Braves dug deep to get back in the match in games three and four.
Fonda-Fultonville opened the third set with a five-point run by Allana Clough before Ostrander and Nicole Little sparked a Mayfield rally to break away for a 16-8 advantage.
The Lady Braves scrambled and recovered behind Sarah Wyzomirski and Taylor Wetsky's strong play at the net, tying the game at 24 apiece. However, the Lady Panthers benefited from a long service and a short return from Fonda-Fultonville to get the 26-24 victory and a 2-1 game lead.
The Lady Braves kept the momentum going from their game-three rally into the fourth set, which saw neither team lead by more than three points.
With the game tied at 23, Kayla Avery served up an ace for the Lady Braves and when the Lady Panthers' service return missed its mark wide, Fonda-Fultonville walked off with a 25-23 win to tie the match at two games apiece.
Kayla Thompson broke open the decisive fifth game for Mayfield, stringing together a six-point run early to take an 8-2 lead.
Again, the Lady Braves fought back to get within striking distance, 13-11, before Mackenzie Biggers served and Ostrander spiked Mayfield out to a 20-11 advantage.
"We were blocking them and then they started to dump and we forgot who was supposed to be covering in the middle," coach Mancini said. "Again, being able to practice between matches we would be able to cover that, but we are right off to Cobleskill tomorrow."
Wyzomirski put together a late-game service run for the Lady Braves, but it was not enough to cut into Mayfield's advantage as the Lady Panthers picked up the 25-18 game five win to win the match 3-2.
"I told the girls inexperience breeds inconsistency and that is exactly what is happening," coach Mancini said. "They are learning slowly but surely to be a little bit more consistent. They showed that they don't give up and can pull themselves back up and stay in the game but they need to learn not to dig that hole. They work well together and have a lot of promise. They just have to find it within themselves."
Wyzomirski finished with 13 kills, five blocks and 12 service points for Fonda-Fultonville, while Alexa Mancini had seven kills, two blocks, eight service points and three aces.
Mayfield was paced by Ostrander's 15-kill, two-block, 21-point, eight-ace performance. Frasier added 16 points, two kills and a block, while Karissa More had two kills and 13 assists along with Little's two kills and two blocks.
"We are down a little bit,." coach Rovito said. "They are younger team with a little less experience than I have had. We have been training our leaders and we really play as a team with no all-stars and, as a coach, that is exciting."
Mayfield will open its league play Thursday against Saratoga Catholic and Friday against Middleburgh.