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Sonnenberg, Falcons soar past Ken-West

It wasn’t a mindless decision to have Jenna Sonnenberg take the serve to start the game for Niagara Wheatfield.

Head coach Brandi Cochran wanted to get her team out to strong start Monday night so she gave the ball to her junior captain.

And she delivered.

“We weren’t as challenged as much in the pre-quarter and quarterfinals, but I knew starting with Sonnenberg serving that she would get a run for us because she’s been in so many big games,” Cochran said.

Sonnenberg helped the Falcons to a quick seven-point run to start in the first set before sweeping the Kenmore West Blue Devils in a Section VI Class A Girls Volleyball semifinal matchup.

They will face the top-seeded Williamsville East Flames in the Sectional final on Thursday at Daemon College at 8 p.m.

After getting out to a 7-0 lead in the first set, the Blue Devils took their first timeout. It gave Ken-West some help as they were able to get the first point after it. The Falcons got back into a rhythm and powered their way to a 25-4 win.

Kenmore West showed they had a pulse as they got the first point of the second set. They carried that momentum for a short time tying the set up at five. But Niagara Wheatfield broke through scoring three unanswered points. Senior captain Carly Milleville gave the Falcons a boost when she slammed a kill in the middle of the floor. The play helped the Falcons extend their lead to 19-12 and eventually win the set 25-21.

The Blue Devils kept the early part of the third set close. But soon Niagara Wheatfield found a groove going on a four-point run to take an 8-3 lead. They quickly extended the margin to 20-7. Ken-West fought until the very end scoring three times on the match-point opportunities before Wheatfield won the set 25-13.

Whether it was a hard kill coming right at her, a knuckle ball hit or even a ball that went the wrong way off a teammate Sonnenberg was there to make the play.

But the libero’s knack for making the big play doesn’t come from a clutch gene, but from plain-old hard work.

“A lot of training has gone into it,” Sonnenberg said. “I play travel and over the past travel season I’ll practice seven days a week. This is something I work on a lot.”

Sonnenberg had 23 aces and five digs in the win. Classmates Danielle Brochey and Mackenize Franks also had strong games. Brochey picked up nine kills and eight digs. Franks had 29 assists and 11 digs.

Monday night’s matchup was the final game for Blue Devil head coach Kelly Strong.

Strong coached the JV team for 3 years before taking over the Varsity in 2003.

“It’s bittersweet,” Strong said. “We had an amazing season. I couldn’t have asked for a better run. The girls gave it everything they had. It will be weird in August when I have a lot of free time.”

Senior Abby Borkowski had 13 digs and seven kills in the losing effort. Junior Chloe Moore had 12 digs.

Niagara Wheatfield is now 18-1-1 on the season and won the Niagara Frontier League.

According to Cochran the Falcons seem to be in playoff form.

“My girls just played at a different level tonight,” Cochran said. “Our main goal was to control the pace of the match and we did that.”

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