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BURNT HILLS: Hard work pays off for Spartans at Cider Challenge

The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake girls volleyball team still wins nearly every match. The Spartans have had to work hard to win those matches, but they still win them.

Saturday's inaugural Cider Challenge was a prime example. BH-BL survived strong challenges from state powers Pine Bush and Eden to reach the finals before losing to Baldwinsville last year's state class AA runner-up in the finals 25-20, 27-29, 25-13.

"It was a very good afternoon," said BH-BL coach Gary Bynon. "To beat two very good teams (Eden and Pine Bush), we probably expended a lot of energy. We probably ran out of gas in game three (against Baldwinsville)."

Senior Erin Little led BH-BL's offense in the day-long tournament with 62 kills, which helped put her closer to becoming the second Spartan to reach 1,000 career kills.

"Erin is one of the best players in New York," said Bynon. "She played awesome this weekend."

Senior Leah Farrell also came through for the Spartans with numerous digs and assists as the team's libero " a position she moved into when Loren Crabbe injured herself in the opening week of the season.

"Leah Farrell normally is a left-side hitter, and she's very good at it," said Bynon. "When Loren was injured, Leah said, 'I'll play libero.' That's team play right there. She moved back there and has done a great job."

Other players have stepped up for BH-BL including juniors Leanne Merchant and Christina Pelletier, as well as freshman Maria Allocco.

"With the injury to Loren, a lot of young girls have an opportunity to play and learn how hard they have to work in the off-season in order to play at this level," said Bynon. "It's a team that constantly has to work at things, and that's what they have to understand."

So far, the hard work has paid off. The Spartans have played well at several tournaments including their traditional BH-BL Invitational and a regional event in Paramus, N.J., and they continue to roll up Suburban Council victories. Tuesday's three-game sweep against Mohonasen put them one step closer to 250 consecutive league wins.

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