Lady Birds rsquo state title hopes clipped by Falconer

By Jordan J. Michael

GLENS FALLS –– After 21 straight wins, the girls on the Voorheesville volleyball team didn’t know what losing felt like, nor did they really ever think about it.

The Blackbirds went into Sunday’s Class C state final against Falconer at Glens Falls Civic Center with the utmost confidence after being the top team in Saturday’s semifinal round. Voorheesville played wonderfully, like it had all season, but it wasn’t enough.

Senior Co-Captain Morgan Vandervort, who was with the Birds when it last made the state semifinals in 2007, went for a daring kill in the back during the Falconer Falcons match point in the fourth set. Vandervort’s shot went just long, and the Falcons celebrated a state championship.

Vandervort could have placed the ball into Falconer’s hands, but she went for everything. She’s the epitome of Voorheesville’s competitiveness and drive to win. She had planted the idea of winning a state title into her teammates’ heads four months ago.

Last Thursday, Vandervort told The Enterprise that her entire high school life has “ran through volleyball.” She didn’t know how special being at states was last time, but now she knew.

“I hate leaving things unfinished,” Vandervort said. “A state title is the missing piece. I can’t let this team lose.”

It would be unreasonable to say that one person let the Lady Birds lose. It’s a team effort and all 11 players suffered a loss, including Sarah Dykstra, who was unable to attend last weekend’s events because she was sick.

“It’s been a lot of fun playing and to know that we made it this far,” said Vandervort after Sunday’s game. “We’ve been a family for so long now. Even the younger girls; we couldn’t have done this without them.”

The other senior co-captain, Ellie Wagner, who was born in Paris, said on Thursday, “Volleyball just became part of my life, I don’t know what I would be doing instead.” She said the one main objective, whether winning or losing, is to “have as much fun as possible.”

Even though the Blackbirds wanted to win a state title, the girls seemed to be having plenty of fun playing on Sunday.

“It’s been really fun and I’ll take so much of this with me,” said senior Rebecca Bablin after Sunday’s game. Volleyball has helped her learn to manage her time wisely as a student. “I never thought a team could go this far. I’m upset now, but tomorrow I’ll wake up and realize how great this was.”

There were plenty of firsts for Voorheesville this season: A Colonial Council championship, an undefeated season, and a first trip to a state title match. Head Coach Sandy Vorse told her players not to be disappointed after Falconer took a state title from them.

“I think it’s a nice thing to be competitive enough to be really upset about this,” Vorse said. “Most of the teams come here to just live it up, but we came here to win. We’re mad about losing, but we still got a nice trophy.”

Vorse has noted there are 797 volleyball teams in New York State and out of all the Class C schools, only one finished ahead of Voorheesville.

The Lady Birds lost only five sets all year and Bablin and freshman Libby Bjork were named to the All-Tournament Team for Class C after Sunday’s match. Before the match began, Wagner was honored with the Sportsmanship Award.

On Saturday, during semifinal play, Voorheesville came out ready, and quickly took its first two sets against Mattituck, 25-8 and 25-16. Next up was Falconer, and the two teams split a set each. Finally, the Birds won its final two sets against Thomas Edison, clinching a spot in Sunday’s final.

“Our serving was aggressive and it kept our opponents off balance,” said Wagner, who had 35 digs, six aces, and 19 points on Saturday. “We wanted this so bad and now we’re so close.”

“We’re just happy to be in the finals,” said Bablin, who had 19 kills, 10 points, and four blocks. “It’s a wonderful feeling.”

Vandervort, who had 14 kills and 24 digs, kept hearing the Blackbird fans during play on Saturday. “They were yelling and screaming for us,” she said. “The support is amazing. My heart is pounding.”

The next day, Voorheesville went onto the court and had fun, a privilege and an environment that most teams will never experience.

“Getting upset doesn’t help you,” Vandervort said on Saturday. “We can only focus on what we can control.”

“They don’t get frazzled,” Vorse said of her players on Saturday. “This has been an amazing season and it couldn’t have happened to nicer, more driven people.”

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