AMHERST — Despite a lopsided score in the first set, Lakers coach Dan Mulroy wasn’t concerned.
Mulroy knew his team would adjust to the speed and strength, and once the nerves were settled, Skaneateles would make a push against the defending state champions.
The Lakers surged to a multiple point lead late in the second set, but the Skaneateles volleyball team ultimately dropped that set and the next in a 3-0 loss to Portville in the NYSPHSAA Class C Sub-Regional at Daemen College Wednesday. The final set scores were 25-8, 25-18, 25-13.
“I told them after the first game ‘I don’t care if the score is 8-25, you guys are right there with them. You’re right there with the blocks,’” Lakers coach Dan Mulroy said. “It’s going to fall.”
Skaneateles’ Lily Delasin, who surpassed 500 assists this season, racked up 14 assists and six digs. Jessica Patalino, who eclipsed 500 career kills in the Lakers' last match, added nine kills and six digs. Maeve Canty chipped in 11 digs, five kills and a block.
The Panthers, the Section VI champions, took the first seven points of the match and didn’t allow the Lakers to go on any runs longer than two points in a 25-8 win in the first set.
“This is the first time any of these girls have been in a game like this, so I do think that first game there were some nerves,” Mulroy said. “We were pressing a little bit and trying to make the perfect pass. It was an adjustment. Some of those servers were harder than we’ve seen all year.
“We adjusted, and that’s where we went into that second game.”
Skaneateles and Portville exchanged the first 12 points of the second set. The lead then changed hands four times until the Lakers held a 17-13 advantage. The Panthers closed out the 25-18 victory by taking 12 of the last 13 points.
“They played with a ton of energy that second game,” Mulroy said of his team. “Even when they got down pretty big in the first game, they never lost their energy. In the second game … we were finally able to execute our offense. That was the big key in the second game.”
Despite being down 2-0, Skaneateles fought back in the third set, but Portville took control with an eight point run and closed out the 25-13 victory with a six point run.
“This team, especially led by our seniors and our captains — Jessica Patalino and Hannah Blowers specifically — they made sure the team didn’t get down,” Mulroy said. “They kept their heads up and their energy up and it speaks a lot about our leadership. To be down 2-0 and still come out and play with a ton of heart and energy? That’s all about leadership.”
After the match, Mulroy reminded his team that it has plenty to be proud of, including winning the program’s first section title since 2012.
“As we met, I told them to be proud of the way that they played in this game — to challenge a team that hasn’t been challenged much this year — and to be proud of this season in general,” Mulroy said. “I love this team. I think it’s a close group that really came together all year, and I think that’s why they’re in there having their heart-to-heart and crying it out and laughing and celebrating all at once.”