Canalmen make way to 2nd straight state semis

KINGSTON — Case’s hitters kept going on the attack, and Bourne’s front line kept stuffing the ball back over the net.

The Canalmen reached the Division 3 South girls volleyball final in large part thanks to their serving and defense, but they’re going back to the state semifinals thanks to their play up front.

Emma Fenton led the way with 15 kills, and No. 2 Bourne blocked a season-best seven hits in a 26-24, 25-19, 25-6 sweep of the No. 9 Case Cardinals in the sectional finals Saturday at Silver Lake Regional High School.

 

“There’s a true respect for both teams,” said Bourne coach Andy Mather. “The first game was feeling it out, their defense against our inability to put the ball away, their serving tough and picking apart some of our weaknesses. After that first game, the more it went, the more they played tight, the more we relaxed and were able to execute.”

Bourne (25-1) moves on to the state semis for the second consecutive year. The Canalmen will face Frontier, which beat Bourne, 3-1, in the 2017 state championship and this year won its 14th straight West title with a 3-0 sweep of Lee, on Tuesday.

Bourne beat Case for the third time this season, winning 3-0 and 3-1 during the South Coast Conference portion of the regular season. The Canalmen also beat the Cardinals in last year’s South final.

“We want to go even farther than this,” Fenton said. “Being here last year in the same game playing the same team, we were kind of like, ‘OK, we know what it’s like, we know how to win.’”

Kameryn McAnaugh’s block on the first point of the match made it immediately clear that Bourne wouldn’t give Case (16-8) many free hits and planned to test the Cardinals’ defense early and often. Bourne won a back-and-forth first set on kills by Sara Sullivan (41 assists) and McAnaugh, then put up 20 kills in a second set in which Case led 10-8 early and trailed just 20-18 after a McAnaugh kill.

Two more McAnaugh kills made it 23-18 before Case’s Mikayla Bushell finally ended the run. But Riley Burgess sent the ensuing serve out of bounds — one of just two serving errors all match by the Cardinals — and Caitlin O’Connor wrapped things up with yet another kill.

“We put the ball down 20 times, and I don’t think Case is used to that,” Mather said.

However close the first two sets were, Bourne quickly seized control in the third. Fenton blocked back-to-back shots to go up 3-0, then made it 6-1 with a kill ahead of McAnaugh’s ace.

Fenton added two more blocks and a kill in a critical 7-0 run for the Canamen. Mattison Stuck (28 digs) served up two aces to make it 14-2 before Rachel Davidson finally returned possession to Case.

“Case, their attacks are really low to the net, low to the tape, so it’s a lot easier for us to get up and block,” Fenton said. “Their middle (hitters) are very strong, so at practice yesterday we were focusing on middle, how to block, how to dig it up.”

Case never recovered from that third-set deficit. The Cardinals dug as many hits as they could, but a relaxed, confident Bourne attack left Case scrambling for balls and unable to mount any kind of offense.

Case’s last three points of the season all came on unforced Bourne errors, as Fenton added two more points down the stretch and Charlotte Orth clinched the title with an ace.

“It’s almost like a numb feeling, because you know that they’re so much better than that,” said Case coach Michaela Goncalves. “This game does such beautiful things in bringing people together and helping shape them into strong young women, and that’s really what it’s about at the end of the day.”