Westfield’s Sydney Hotchkiss spikes the ball over the net as Maple Grove’s Harper Dawes attempts a block during Thursday’s CCAA Division 2 West volleyball matchup at Maple Grove Jr.-Sr. High School. P-J photo by Jason Bower
BEMUS POINT — The Westfield Wolverines volleyball team has felt like it is one of the top dogs in Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association Division 2 West.
If there were any Westfield doubters, on Thursday night the Wolverines made it known they belong in the top half of the division after pulling off a road victory against second-place Maple Grove in five sets 16-25, 25-23, 25-19, 22-25, 15-12.
“We’ve known we’ve been good all season,” Westfield head coach Greg Birner. “Usually our losses have been 23 or 24, even against the big dogs like Maple Grove. I actually like to think we’re even one of the big dogs. I think we’ve played every game to the end with them.”
After a tough first set, it looked like Westfield (6-5, 5-4) was headed to a similar fate to the first meeting against the Red Dragons where it lost in four sets, but the tides began to turn in the second set. The Wolverines rattled off a six-point run that put them up 14-9 and that cushion was enough to stay ahead of the struggling Red Dragons for the 25-23 win.
Maple Grove’s (6-6, 6-3) struggles continued in the second set and Westfield once again began to pull away at the midpoint, this time with an eight-point run to go up 13-9. The big three of Haleigh Dellow, Tanleigh Bestine and Keara Kincaid played a huge part in the Wolverines’ success on both offense and defense, whether it was delivering creative kills or laying out for crucial digs. Maple Grove battled back into the third set, but still fell short 25-19.
Maple Grove’s Eliza Dawes digs a Westfield hit during Thursday’s CCAA Division 2 West match at Maple Grove Jr.-Sr. High School. P-J photo by Jason Bower
“They use the phrase ‘slay low,'” Birner said about his team’s mentality on defense. “If they slay low, they know they’re good and they absolutely slayed low today. It’s their commitment to playing defense.”
Dellow finished the night with 16 kills and nine blocks; Bestine had 21 assists, six kills, five blocks and four digs; Kincaid contributed nine kills, seven aces, five digs and three blocks; Sydney Hotchkiss had three assists and eight digs; and Maddie Burgess had two aces.
Westfield had Maple Grove’s back up against the wall and then really put the pressure on by taking an early 7-2 lead in the fourth set. However, for a team of Maple Grove’s quality, Westfield wasn’t going to come away with the win so easily as the Red Dragons battled back into the set.
Then, later in the set, Westfield once again hit a hot streak with six points in a row to go up 20-16. That lead did not last long as Maple Grove scored the next four and rode that momentum to a 25-22 victory, setting the table for a fifth and final set.
“To push that game five, I was happy to see it,” Maple Grove head coach Ardelle Rambacher said. “Our serving was a little bit better in that fourth set.”
Maple Grove’s Abby Harrell spikes over the net as Westfield’s Tanleigh Bestine prepares to go up for a block during Thursday’s match. P-J photo by Jason Bower
As usual, a big part of Maple Grove forcing a fifth set were Eliza Dawes with six kills and three digs; Rachal King added five kills; Erin Mansfield had 17 assists, four digs and a block; Hannah Benson added five assists and a kill; and Abby Harrell contributed four kills.
Even after giving up a lead to allow the home team to force a fifth set, Westfield managed to buckle down and score the first four points of the fifth set. That lead was the cushion the Wolverines would need as Maple Grove could not find its groove and fell 15-12.
“Today we got a little outplayed,” Rambacher added. “Westfield is very talented on its defense, they move well. We lacked some energy, so I give credit to Westfield to have that energy there.”
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