Oneonta High volleyball is closer than it may appear.
Kelsey Baker had 12 kills and Krissy Wells contributed 29 assists Thursday, but OHS fell to host Owego, 3-2, in the Southern Tier Athletic Conference championship match.
Although the loss marked Oneonta’s third of the season to the undefeated Indians, coach Lee Ferrara said his first-time STAC East Division champion Yellowjackets are just as good.
“It was awesome volleyball,” said Ferrara, whose team was swept by Owego at home Oct. 18. “Every time we see Owego, we close the gap. We’re pretty much neck and neck now.”
Baker’s night included four blocks and four aces for Oneonta (12-4), which received 10 kills and eight blocks from Brittney Herrick. Hayley Dower finished with a team-best 11 digs and matched Wells with two aces.
Ferrara said OHS avoided an early exit with a huge rally from a 12-2 deficit in the fourth set.
“Paige Shaughnessy she served like 10 points at us,” he said. “They weren’t aces, but we weren’t doing anything with it. … Then things just turned the other way – we outscored them, 23-8, after that. I have absolutely no idea why, but volleyball is a see-saw game of momentum.
“We got them in a rotation we wanted and we ran it up when they were stuck in that rotation,” he continued. “We just started hammering it and were running hard. Wells, Dower and Baker ran with a bunch of points.”
Oneonta maintained that momentum at the start of the fifth game, but Owego battled back to tie the score at 16.
“The rest was history,” Ferrara said. “Their libero, Abbey Manning, started making some incredible digs on our hitters back there. There were just some long rallies – two or three hits from them, two or three hits from us – and they just eventually put them down.”
Lauren Edwards finished with 47 assists for STAC Central Division champion Owego (16-0), which received 21 kills from Kim Lavender and 15 digs from Manning.
Both teams will compete in the pool-play semifinals of the Section Four Class B Tournament at 4:15 p.m. Nov. 1 at Horseheads Middle School.
Fifth-seeded Windsor (9-5) will visit No. 4 Johnson City (10-4) at 5 p.m. Tuesday for a play-in game that will determine the last final-four team in Class B. The winner will advance to the pool-play semifinals, which will feature top-seeded Owego, No. 2 Oneonta and third-seeded Maine-Endwell (4-11).
The teams with the two best records after pool play will meet for the sectional title Nov. 3 at Watkins Glen.
Two other area volleyball teams will compete in sectionals next week.
Sidney (11-5) is the No. 8 seed for the Section Four Class C Tournament and will host No. 9 Watkins Glen at 6 p.m. Monday. The winner advances to a quarterfinal against top-seeded Waverly (15-1).
In Class D, sixth-seeded Bainbridge-Guilford (13-3) will visit No. 3 Tioga (12-4) for a quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The winner will advance to the Nov. 1 semifinals at Horseheads Middle, which will host the Class C sectional semifinals the same day.
Watkins Glen also will host the Class C and Class D sectional championships Nov. 3.