The Loudonville Christian girls volleyball team had come too far and worked too hard to be denied a shot at the state tournament.
The Eagles pulled out a 25-22 victory in the fifth and deciding game to defeat Section X champion Chateaugay 3-2 in last Saturday's class D regional at Queensbury High School to advance to this weekend's state tournament in Glens Falls and maintain their perfect record.
We've rarely had to go into five games all season, said Loudonville Christian coach Rosemary Burgher. "That's just my kids, though. That's the competitive edge of Stephanie Collins, who is the consummate athlete, and the emotion of Lila Roberts."
Collins and Roberts came up big when the Eagles needed them. Roberts led the way with 13 kills, 22 service points and 12 aces, while Collins contributed five kills and 10 blocks " the last of which sealed Loudonville Christian's victory.
"It just shows how hard we worked all season," said Roberts. "To still be undefeated is amazing."
Chateaugay made Loudonville Christian (24-0) work for everything it got. The Bulldogs kept the first two games close before the Eagles pulled out wins of 25-19 and 25-21. Then, Chateaugay won the next two games 25-21 and 25-18 to force a deciding fifth game.
"Chateaugay was extremely good on offense, and they didn't let us get going on defense," said Burgher.
The fifth game saw several momentum swings before Loudonville Christian scored five of the final seven points to put Chateaugay away.
"We all got together and just took some deep breaths," said Roberts. "We knew we could win. We just had a slow point in the game."
"They learned to play at a certain tempo, and when they didn't play that tempo, that's when we lost," said Burgher. "When we got that tempo back, that's when we played well."
SuGui Kriss contributed 17 assists and several service points for the Eagles, who will try to win the school's first state title this weekend. No Loudonville Christian team had won a Section II title before the girls volleyball squad claimed the class D championship last Tuesday with a 3-1 victory over Fort Edward.
"I'm really happy for the kids. They worked really hard to get this far," said Burgher.
Loudonville Christian will play two-game matches against the other three state semifinalists Friday at the Glens Falls Civic Center. The teams with the top two records meet in Saturday's championship.""