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St. Mary’s, Canisius Extend Monsignor Martin Championship Streaks





St. Mary’s remains the queen of Monsignor Martin Athletic Association girls volleyball.

The Lancers rolled to a surprisingly lopsided 25-21, 25-10, 25-11 win over Sacred Heart in the championship game on Wednesday night for the team’s ninth consecutive Monsignor Martin title.

“It feels really good. We worked really hard all season to get to where we are today,” senior outside hitter Madison Nuttle said. “I thought they’d put up more of a fight but we played really, really well.”

The first game was a tight one – but once the Lancers got rolling, they really got rolling.

“When our ball control is as good as it was today, I’ll take our chances against anyone in the state,” coach Don Pieczynski said. “Our ball control made it all possible, we served tough, we played great defense. If we can do that and let our middles do their thing, we’re pretty much unstoppable.”

And now the quest continues to bring the state championship back to St. Mary’s. The Lancers were two points away from a third straight state championship last season but Long Island’s Sacred Heart rallied from 23-18 down to steal the fifth and decisive set.

St. Mary’s hasn’t forgotten.

“That’s our ultimate goal,” Pieczynski said. “We let one slip away last year and, we didn’t want to overlook this game, but our goal is to win states.”

Amherst’s Sacred Heart was the only MMAA team to take a set from St. Mary’s this season in a match on Oct. 21. The Sharks were up for the challenge in the first game on Wednesday but the last two were all Lancers.

“They made adjustments to what they were doing and we just couldn’t counter it,” Sharks coach JT Ripper said. “That’s my feeling. Hat’s off to them, they’re No. 1 in the league for a reason.”

Marie Rhodes earned playoff MVP honors, collecting 14 kills in the finals. Jasmine Brundage led the way in digs with 17, and setter Courtney Kurkowiak dished out 34 assists.

St. Mary’s improved to 39-4-2 on the season and 14-0 against Monsignor Martin foes, winning 42 of 43 sets.

“It’s really good, considering it’s my fourth one. It’s a feeling I can’t even describe,” said senior captain Kelly Cleversley, playing with a brace after hyper-extending her knee on Oct. 19. “I couldn’t have done this without any of my teammates. We have a great team.”

On the boys side, an expected blowout turned out to be the biggest challenge powerhouse Canisius has seen from a league rival in some time. But the Crusaders were up to the task, claiming a 20th straight MMAA championship with a 25-18, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19 win over St. Francis.

“It feels really good to win another one,” playoff MVP Eric Geisler said. “Yeah, there’s pressure. But pressure and nervousness just shows that you care. Credit to St. Francis. Everyone upped their competitiveness. That’s what it comes down too in a championship game. They wanted it a lot, too, and you could see that.”

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