The Loudonville Christian Eagles were given one of the toughest assignments for any team making its debut at the state volleyball tournament face the defending class D champions and last year's runner-up in the first two rounds of pool play, and then take on a traditional state power.
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Loudonville Christian made the best of its daunting task. After losing four straight games to Haldane and Randolph, the Eagles defeated Section IV champion Candor 25-19 and 26-24 to place third at last weekend's tournament at Glens Falls Civic Center.
I'm thrilled to be behind those two teams," said Loudonville Christian coach Rosemary Burgher of Haldane and Randolph, which wound up playing each other in the state finals.
"I think we did the best we could," said Stephanie Collins. "The first four games didn't work out in our favor."
It looked like Loudonville Christian would be overwhelmed in its first trip to states after Haldane (Section I) defeated the Eagles 25-12 in their first game. But Loudonville Christian showed some fight and challenged Haldane in the second game before losing 25-22.
The task became tougher when Loudonville Christian met defending state champion Randolph (Section VI). The Cardinals pulled away for a 25-18 victory in the first game and fended off several Eagle rallies to win the second game 25-20.
"I felt skill-wise we were up to it, but the mental aspect I wasn't sure they'd be up to it mentally," said Burgher.
The Eagles shook off their losses and concentrated on avoiding the shutout against Candor. They took it to the Indians in the first game and won 25-19 to assure themselves of at least one victory.
Candor bounced back in the second game and built a 22-12 lead, but Loudonville Christian rallied behind the serving of Collins. Following a sideout, the senior captain served 10 consecutive points to put the Eagles in front, and freshman Alyssa Paulsen finished a 26-24 victory with two service points.